If the Magic trade Josh McRoberts, don't expect a big return

Josh McRoberts - Douglas Jones - US Presswire

It makes sense that Orlando might try to trade Josh McRoberts during the season, but such a trade wouldn't net a key contributor.

Tuesday afternoon, the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets agreed to swap Matt Carroll and Hakim Warrick, which news the NBA blogosphere greeted with a yawn. Neither Carroll nor Warrick played much for their current squads, they make roughly the same salary, and neither is likely to make an impact on their new teams.

Which brings me to the possibility of the Orlando Magic trading forward Josh McRoberts. Please note that this post isn't a rumor; there's no indication that the Magic are engaged in trade discussions with any team regarding any of their players. But as McRoberts is a veteran in the frontcourt, where Orlando is deepest, it makes sense that the Magic might try to trade him before February's deadline.

It's not as though McRoberts is chopped liver; among Magic rotation players, he's the team's best defensive rebounder and second-best rebounder overall. For the season, he's averaging four points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 50 percent shooting in 17.9 minutes per game, and he's made two starts in seven appearances.

So he's contributing, but how long he'll remain in the rotation is up for debate. Once Hedo Türkoğlu and Al Harrington return from their respective hand and knee maladies, it's likely McRoberts will return to spot-duty, and will be superfluous.

If Orlando trade McRoberts' $3.1 million expiring salary, it won't receive a coveted asset in return, but rather a player of a similar talent level and salary at a position of greater need. In ideal circumstances, the Duke product would be a 10th man at best. The Magic can't hope for anything better than a fringe rotation player in return.

Think back to the 2008/09 season, just after Jameer Nelson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. The Magic tried to remedy the situation by starting Anthony Johnson and playing Türkoğlu at point forward, but that solution proved unsustainable, so they traded Keith Bogans to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tyronn Lue. Both players made roughly the same salary and each addressed a position of need for their new teams: the Magic needed a point guard, while the Bucks, reeling from the injury to Michael Redd, needed a shooting guard.

That's the sort of trade in which McRoberts may find himself involved in the season ahead, if the Magic indeed look to trade him away.

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