Orlando Pinstriped Post is pleased to participate in NBA Trade Season Day at SB Nation, where sites throughout the network discuss what the teams they cover may or may not hope to accomplish as the NBA's trade season heats up. With more than one-quarter of the season in the books, the league's teams have a decent handle on what they have and where they need to upgrade.
Is your team a buyer, a seller, or both?
The Orlando Magic find themselves in an odd position with regard to this question. They've won six of their last nine games, including two wins against the Golden State Warriors and another over the Minnesota Timberwolves, to sneak back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. After Tuesday's games, Orlando stands at 11-13, just one game behind the Boston Celtics for the final playoff spot out East.
It's tempting to label Orlando as a buyer, given those circumstances, but the Magic need to be sellers if their rebuild project is to continue honestly. NBA's annals are littered with teams who aimed to fast-track rebuilding efforts with hasty trades, ones which improved their short-term futures but compromised their long-term outlook.
So yes, Orlando could certainly look to upgrade their roster in order to make a playoff run, but the wiser choice would be to either make no moves or to bottom out.
What are the objectives in potential moves?
If the Magic want to make that playoff run, they'll need a wing scorer who can draw fouls. Orlando is on pace to set an NBA record for fewest free-throw attempts in a season, and their inability to draw fouls and score easy points at the line is one reason why only the Washington Wizards have a less efficient offense. A power forward with three-point range could also help spread the floor and create driving lanes for the likes of Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo.
The approach I advocate, however, has Orlando tabling those needs in favor of other ones which better serve its rebuilding plan. Unloading one of its larger contracts--perhaps those of Glen Davis, Al Harrington, or Hedo Türkoğlu--will help the team's long-term cap flexibility. The Magic should also seek future draft picks, either first- or second-rounders, to improve their ability to add young talent cheaply in future seasons.
Orlando's biggest position of need is point guard: its only options behind Jameer Nelson are E'Twaun Moore, a converted shooting guard; and Ish Smith, who's shooting 16.7 percent in limited minutes. If the Magic can come away from the 2013 trade deadline with a bona fide successor to Nelson, then they'll have done well for themselves.
Which players are available?
Veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick is probably the most obvious trade candidate on Orlando's roster, given that he's a talented player on an expiring deal. His stock in trade--scoring and playmaking--always seems to be in high demand around the trade deadline, when playoff-bound teams look to bolster their rotations for the postseason.
And yet I'm not entirely certain the Magic will move Redick. Though he'll be able to choose his next team as an unrestricted free agent, he's indicated that he'd like to stay with Orlando, and there's no reason why the Magic wouldn't welcome him back. He's productive and won't break the bank on his next contract. Further, he serves as a leader in the locker room, helping to mentor youngsters Andrew Nicholson and Moore, among others.
Harrington is another candidate for trade, but the chances of moving the veteran big man have diminished, as he has yet to play since undergoing multiple operations to treat a staph infection. Orlando acquired him from the Denver Nuggets for the express purpose of trading him somewhere down the line, and he knows it.
Davis and Türkoğlu are certainly available, but whether they have any value to other clubs is an open question. Davis is shattering career-highs in scoring (16.2 points) and rebounding (7.8), but that's simply a consequence of being Orlando's go-to player. His 49.5 percent True Shooting mark stands well below the league average, indicating his statistical improvement in other areas is due to his role, and not to any sort of change in skill level. Davis is overpaid, but not grossly so. Still, the Magic's long-term outlook would improve if it could spend the $13 million it owes Davis elsewhere.
Türkoğlu broke his hand in the first game of the season and hasn't played since. The final season of his contract is only guaranteed for $6 million, but whether any team with any interest in his on-court production would be keen to pay him that amount not to play for it in 2013/14 is in doubt.
What are some of your trade ideas?
Again, I'm not convinced the Magic will deem trading Redick, their best and most dependable player, necessary. If they do, though, Minnesota is a sensible trade partner, given that it needs three-point shooting more desperately than any other team in the league. Redick's slumping at 34.1 percent from deep so far, but his career success from beyond the arc suggests his early-season struggle is a fluke that will soon correct itself as a matter of course.
In Williams, the Magic would receive a 21-year-old combo forward prospect who's fallen out of favor with his current club. The second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Williams owns career averages of 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds. A player of his size--he's listed at 6-foot-8 and 241 pounds--shouldn't shoot 41 percent from the field, as Williams has, but the Magic would have both the time and the incentive to develop the Arizona product, a project which has fallen by the wayside in Minny as the 'Wolves focus on their present instead of their future.
Every armchair GM will spend some time over the next few months trying to find ways to pry Bledsoe, a 23-year-old point guard, from the Clippers' clutches. It's clear that he's got a bright future at both ends of the floor, and yet he will never develop like he needs to so long as Chris Paul is entrenched as the Clippers' starter.
Enter the Magic, who agree to give up two 2014 draft choices, including their own first-rounder, to obtain their point guard of the future. In his third season out of Kentucky, Bledsoe is averaging a point every two minutes on 55.8 percent True Shooting. He's always been a terror defensively, averaging 2.1 steals per 36 minutes for his career.
You've read my assessment of Orlando's situation and two of my ideas. Now let's hear from you.