I've already said this more than a few times, but this year it bears repeating: The Orlando Magic need to sign Jermaine Taylor and play him immediately.
Of course this is the homer's take. I'm a homer. But that doesn't mean that I'm wrong. And this year it makes more sense than ever.
The Case for the Magic
Following a 29-53 season and the subsequent the deposition of the Rob Hennigan regime, the Magic are hitting the reset button. Jeff Weltman, the team's President of Basketball Operations, told the Orlando Sentinel that he and new GM John Hammond are taking "a kind of long-view, cautious approach" and that "[t]here’s a lot less money in the free-agent market this year than there was last year." That's funny.
The Magic are over the cap, but not in the luxury tax bracket. Their roster is utterly uninspiring and filled with dreadful contracts that need to come off the books. Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and C.J. Watson are all heading into the season with expiring contracts, and Terrence Ross and Nik Vucevic come off the books in 2019. Trey Burke isn't the missing piece. They should be sellers this season. Lord knows they won't be winners.
Welcome to The Process, Southern Edition.
The Magic need to sell and sell hard. Deal Evan Fournier, Nik Vucevic, and just about whomever else isn't expiring for contracts that are.
When they do that, they will be unwatchable. So what better way to become watchable than to get get the hometown's favorite son and ride him for a year?
The good news is, once the Magic clear that cap space, Jermaine will be relatively cheap to get, especially if they sign him to a one-year deal. But the return on that investment could be much better than advertised, as he would certainly put more black and gold butts in the seats and eyeballs on the local telecast.
The Case for Jermaine Taylor
Taylor is officially back from the knee injury that nearly derailed his career two years ago. Last year, he averaged better than 14 points per game for the Jazz' D-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. And by all accounts, he looked quite good doing it:
As Jermaine told Eric Lopez and myself in our Summer Session interview with him, he is a much more veteran-savvy player than the raw force of nature he was coming out of UCF. But what stood out to me was the hunger he felt for getting back on an NBA court one more time. Seven countries, four continents and three D-League franchises will do that.
It all makes too much sense. He'd be the hometown kid, Orlando's favorite son, showing the younger guys the hunger that you need to be in the NBA. And he'd score points in bunches. That would be entertaining, as we already know, and the Magic need entertaining:
Jermaine's finest moment in the NBA was six years ago as a Sacramento King, when he dropped a career-high 21 points on 9/12 against - you guessed it - Orlando:
Jermaine Taylor shouldn't have to audition anymore for any team. He's the right guy at the right time for a team that is utterly listless to its fan base and is also losing ground to Orlando City SC. At least with Jermaine on the floor, they'll have the attention of the faithful once again as they begin what will be an arduous rebuilding process.
And there's no better way to do that than to bring in a guy who will relish the opportunity more than any other possible alternative, and reward them with effort, explosiveness and entertainment.
Now is the time for the Orlando Magic to bring Jermaine Taylor home.