Trade Ideas for the Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic have developed a habit of doing this. They start the season surprisingly hot, sitting amongst the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. This start is then immediately canceled out by a dramatic fall off, leaving the team around .500 for the last two months of the season. This year looks to be no different.
After a promising 6-2 start to the season, the Orlando Magic have lost eleven of their last thirteen games. They’ve been without Jonathan Isaac all year, Markelle Fultz tore his ACL, and Aaron Gordon continues to disappoint. Instead of pushing through this mediocrity again, it is time for Orlando to face reality. They are not good enough to compete in the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a top lottery pick. A possible solution: a fire sale!
Orlando Magic Trade #1: Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic is unquestionably the best player on the Magic, and his numbers make him a prime candidate for this year’s All-Star team. However, the last few years have indicated his numbers are empty. They’re impressive but have not translated to playoff success. Now, that’s obviously not all Vucevic’s fault; Orlando has been comprised of average-to-slightly-above-average players for quite some time now. Vucevic’s talent is being wasted on a team that has no championship aspirations, and no clear plan to improve. His value has never been higher. There happens to be a certain team that would greatly benefit from acquiring him.
Boston Celtics receive: Nikola Vucevic
Given that Vucevic is their blue-chip piece, Orlando likely asks a high price for him. As a result of hoarding assets over the last few seasons, the Celtics have something unique to offer. The Celtics’ future first-rounders are likely to be in the early-to-mid-20’s at best. If Orlando wishes to embrace a long rebuild, maybe they ask for draft capital instead of players. However all three players the Magic would get here are former first-round picks, all under the age of 25.
Boston would be getting the elite big man they have been lacking, while Orlando gets three young pieces to help build. With Fultz, Isaac, and Cole Anthony being predominate building blocks for the future, the Magic would need wings and bigs to replace their aging starters. Boston offers that.
Trade #2: Terrence Ross
Let us revisit this Orlando-Boston relationship we just created. Boston’s most pressing need is a solution at the center position. Their second need, especially with the recent injury to Marcus Smart, is a bucket off the bench that can shoot the lights out. Although Ross would have to take a lesser role than he has now in Orlando, his scoring ability would be invaluable to the Celtics.
Boston Celtics receive: Terrence Ross
Orlando Magic receive: Romeo Langford or Aaron Nesmith, Grant Williams, 2022 2nd round pick
Ross would be a big get for Boston for all of the reasons mentioned above. Yet, why would Orlando want to do this? For one, Ross is making an average of $12.5 million over the next three seasons. It’s not a terrible contract to be locked into, but not one a rebuilding team wants to have on the books.
As for who the Magic get in return, Williams is an excellent effort defender to be paired with Isaac. Nesmith would be close to a 1-to-1 replacement for Ross, given the rookie’s supposed three-point shooting ability. If they instead want a more well-rounded wing, Langford could be the answer as he’s shown flashes of being a solid 3-and-D player when healthy. As with the Vucevic trade, if the Magic want it, the Celtics have it.
Trade #3: Aaron Gordon
Okay, enough about the Celtics. One could easily weave a hypothetical about how Gordon would be a good fit in Boston, but I look around the league and see several better landing spots for him. Gordon’s career to this point has been somewhat of a letdown. Tantalizing athleticism and flashes of paint dominance have been marred by inconsistent shooting and rebounding. His minutes and points per game are both down this season. Perhaps we’ve seen the ceiling of Aaron Gordon, or perhaps he just requires a fresh start.
Denver Nuggets receive: Aaron Gordon
Orlando Magic receive: Will Barton, P.J Dozier, 2021 2nd round pick.
If the Nuggets were truly desperate, they could give up Gary Harris or even a 1st rounder. However, Gordon’s trade value is already not particularly high; his current ankle injury only complicates things even more. Orlando will instead have to settle. Denver has a logjam of wings, so Barton’s numbers could certainly rise once given a bigger role. Meanwhile, since the departure of Jerami Grant and the decline of Paul Millsap, Denver’s biggest hole appears to be the four spot. Gordon would ease into that role with little to no pressure on him, as Nikola Jokic beside him would command all the attention.
Of course, the big caveat here is whether Gordon is healthy before the March 25th trade deadline, which he should be. All in all, this trade is more about getting any sort of value for Gordon before he’s a free agent at the end of next year. This is probably the best Orlando can get from a team where Gordon fits well.
Trade #4: Evan Fournier
Of the four Magic players mentioned, Fournier is the only one whose contract expires this season. This may make teams wary of trading for him, knowing he could just leave for the highest bidder in the off-season. However, after Vucevic, Fournier is the best player and maybe even the best pure scorer on Orlando, including Vucevic.
His multi-level scoring ability could be a huge lift for many teams that feel they’re just missing some extra buckets. There are teams like Boston, Toronto, Phoenix, and Dallas that could be more threatening were they to acquire Fournier this season, but there’s a scenario that really intrigues me.
For Golden State, this has the potential to be huge. Fournier would fill in for Klay Thompson this season. He provides tremendous offensive talent that could help push Golden State into a low-seeded postseason spot and pick up the slack Oubre has left. Fournier would also be a great 6th man next season that could ease some of the load off of Thompson as he becomes re-acclimated after 2 years off. Granted the Warriors would need to re-sign him in the off-season, but it’s a trade that is low-risk-high-reward.
It’s been pretty obvious to most people that Kelly Oubre has not fit well in Golden State. His shooting percentages are abysmal and his numbers across the board are down from last year. Orlando however provides an intriguing hypothetical.
Many of the young building blocks on the Magic are not prolific scorers. The best one is either Fultz or Anthony; both guards. A 6’7 scoring wing could be quite the get if Oubre can return to the form he had in Phoenix. Orlando has already been credited with turning Fultz’s career around, Oubre could be next. With Oubre’s contract being up this season, Orlando also faces the issue of banking on a re-sign. However, if Oubre looks better to end this season and the Magic can offer him a big role, why wouldn’t he stay? This side of the coin is medium-risk-but-still-high-reward.
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