The Magic are winning games right now, but, I still see a lot of room for improvement. I have a couple ideas on some small moves that I think would pay huge dividends.
The overwhelming theme amongst these moves is improving the defense. The Magic have been winning with incredible offensive efficiency built around a core of Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, and JJ Redick (in that order). I think that if we could dramatically improve the defense while maintaining that core and that offensive efficiency we could have a real shot at a championship, or at least contending at a level that might retain Howard.
The one advantage in this situation is that it is actually a lot cheaper to acquire defenders than it it to acquire scorers so that works in the Magic's favor.My desire is to acquire three specific players for specific purposes. I will explain the thought process and give multiple trade scenarios for each.
The Magic desperately need another real Center. In my opinion at least. And this is for many reasons.The first of which:
Defense. The Magic defense is predicated on a system of staying close to outside shooters and funneling penetration to Dwight Howard. Currently whenever Howard rests the defense really breaks down. The reason for this is that the Magic have no interior defender to play the Howard-lite role. But the perimeter defenders still play the same way using the same philosophy leading to easy layups. Having a legit 7-footer with good mobility would allow the Magic to maintain their defensive schemes throughout the whole game. And the Magic would still be able to use Davis at the 5, but could use it strategically to create favorable matchups instead of being forced into it because of a lack of options.
Insurance. All things being equal I'd like to see the Magic keep Howard and try to make a run. That is harder to do when losing Howard in free agency means a very real chance that the Magics starting front court next year would be Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson... There are very few centers to be had next summer. Kaman and Camby are available but would probably sign with contenders before a Howard-less Magic. After that the best center might be Ryan Hollins. Seriously.
I find a worst case scenario of Robin Lopez - Ryan Anderson with Davis off the bench slightly more palatable and I think the Magic might too. Making a panic trade less likely.
Daniel Orton & 2nd rnd pick for Robin Lopez
Justin Harper & 2nd rnd pick for Robin Lopez
Buy Low: Marcin Gortat has cemented himself firmly as the Sun's #1 center. Lopez is averaging career lows in FG%, blocks, and steals. Career highs in fouls and turnovers, and the lowest ppg since his rookie year. He is definitely gettable for the right price.
Why I like him for the Magic:
In my opinion Ariza is the best perimeter defender in the game today (or he was a couple years ago, I haven't gotten to see him as much recently). And that is while still being competent on offense.
And I really think Orlando needs a lockdown defender on the wing.
It also provides a different look. Instead of bringing in outside shooter after outside shooter making the Magic one-dimensional having different types of players makes the defense have to think. And thinking is the enemy of good defense.
Jason Richardson to Memphis, OJ Mayo to New Orleans, Trevor Ariza to Orlando
The 76ers deal philly gets a legit shooter (which they need)for a guy that barely plays. New Orleans gets an expiring contract that erases Ariza's contract from their books immediately.
Memphis deal, Griz have been floating a Mayo trade for a while. Jrich is a pretty good player and he's the same age a Z-Bo so he fits in their "window". If Memphis decides it's time to pull the trigger on a Mayo deal this isn't impossible.
Buy Low: Trevor Ariza is coming off injury and a defensive specialist doesn't really fit a rebuilding team.
Why I like him for the Magic:
He gives the Magic size and strength at the PG position. He is a decent defender that matches up better with Derrick Rose and other big guards.
Also Jameer has been at his best this year when he penetrates and takes advantage of the space created by Dwight Howard and all of the shooters. Stuckey is a better finisher and is even more suited to exploit those driving lanes.
Jameer Nelson for Rodney Stuckey
Jameer Nelson to LA (via Odom exception), LA Pick and Dallas Pick to Orlando (creating $8.6M TPE); LA pick & Dallas Pick to Detroit (maybe a future Orlando second-rounder too) for Rodney Stuckey (via Nelson TPE)
Buy Low: Stuckey is averaging his lowest Points, assists, rebounds, minutes, and FG% since his rookie year. He's wasting away as the 6th option on a 3-11 team as they hand the reigns over to Brandon Knight. There's no way he's "untouchable".
The end result:
The Magic would become much better defensively and more versatile. They would be better able to match-up with other top teams, while not sacrificing the core offensive players that have been successful thus far this season.They also would have a core of Howard, Anderson, Redick, Ariza, Davis, and Stuckey where every player is between the ages of 25-27. Which would be the first team of Howard's career comprised mostly of his peers and not players significantly older than him.