Before this summer, Shelvin Mack never really had the opportunity to choose where he would call “home” in the NBA. The former Bryan Station and Butler University star remedied that by signing a deal with the Orlando Magic this month.
Mack, who played for four different teams in his first six seasons in the league, relished the chance to pick his destination.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to play,” said Mack, who was in town this week for his annual youth camp and for a men’s basketball tournament he’s sponsoring this weekend, both at Bryan Station. “Ever since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve never had the opportunity to pick where I wanted to go. This was my first chance to pick where I wanted to go and I feel like it’s gonna work out and be good for me.”
The weather’s a lot nicer in Orlando than in Utah, the place he spent the last season and a half after being traded from Atlanta, where he made a name for himself as a steady contributor off the bench. Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, either.
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“In business you always gotta look at the financials, so I’m definitely saving some money there,” Mack said with a big grin.
Mack signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $12 million (the second year, worth $6 million, is partially guaranteed). After Derrick Rose signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week, several NBA reporters and fans weighed in — some derisively — with the observation that Mack would be making about three times as much money this season than the former league MVP.
He’s seen what they’re saying.
“It’s very funny, but it shows that my hard work’s paid off,” Mack said. “I get the joke, too, you know, ‘MVP’ and all this, but it also shows that people respect what I do and people are willing to pay for it. It makes me feel good and I just want to continue working.”
Career stats — 6.3 points, 2.9 assists, 42.6 percent shooting — don’t tell the whole story of a player who was brought in to add a tough-minded attitude and mentorship to a team that hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2012. Mack has been in the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.
While he’s just 27, Mack is the fourth-oldest player on Orlando’s roster as of Thursday behind Arron Afflalo (31), D.J. Augustin (29) and Marreese Speights (29). Mack is now now a de facto “veteran leader” just a few years after scrapping to make the league — in the first two years of his career he was twice cut by the Washington Wizards and then not retained by Philadelphia after finishing a couple of 10-day contracts.
He believes the Magic aren’t far from postseason contention.
“I feel like I know how to communicate with every guy on the team, and on playoff teams you need a guy like that,’’ Mack told NBA.com this month. “I can communicate with the guys not playing and keep them involved and keep everybody happy.”
He also understands the pacing necessary to get through an 82-game schedule with a winning ledger.
“You’re not gonna get to 50 wins by trying to get to 50 wins. You’re gonna get to 50 wins by winning three games a week,” Mack told the Herald-Leader. “Then at the end it’s gonna add up to 50 wins.”