The Orlando Magic, at 12-4, co-own the best record in the Eastern Conference and have played solid basketball of late, winning seven of their last eight games. The offense isn't quite where it needs to be, and despite recent defensive lapses, they're still among the league's top teams on that end of the floor. So far, things are going well, and there's a lot of potential to improve over the next 66 games.
But, as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reports, Orlando is still open to upgrading via trade, specifically because "they know they need either a big-time scorer or playmaker to get past the Celtics or Heat, and then the Lakers." More from Schmitz's write-up on the Magic BasketBlog:
They would even be willing to take a step back this season to restock if it meant they could land either [Carmelo] Anthony or [Chris] Paul.
Vince Carter and all their youngish, proven pieces are available in some sort of blockbuster package: Jameer Nelson, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, Brandon Bass, J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson.
When I asked somebody in the organization about such a possibility, that somebody never shook off my sign, never flinched.
Otis Smith, the Magic's President of Basketball Operations, is one of the more patient personnel bosses in the league and doesn't exactly have the reputation of a guy who makes moves drastically or without thinking about them first, so I wouldn't take Schmitz's report as a sign Orlando is panicking, or anything like that. But it is interesting that the Magic are nonetheless prepared to, in Schmitz's words, "take a step back this season" for the sake of their long-term future.
It's tough to figure what a trade package built around Carter's semi-expiring contract, a young rotation player or two, and future draft picks likely to be late first-rounders could net. It is, however, safe to assume Orlando has targeted reasonably young perimeter players who can generate offense. Anthony represents the best player of that ilk available, and Schmitz says he'd prefer a potential Magic offer of "experienced, well-coached players from a winning team" to what the Denver Nuggets reportedly prefer, which is a package of expiring deals, future picks, and a star youngster. Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers, who expects to be traded, and the Indiana Pacers' Danny Granger are two other potential targets, based solely on my inference. I don't have any special knowledge, to be clear.
Regardless of who the Magic are after, Schmitz's report makes it clear they aren't content to sit tight. That situation is, quite obviously, something to monitor as we advance through the season.