Prior to this season I was extremely anxious, as I'm sure many other fans were, as to how this Magic team would recover from the loss of He Who Shall Not Be Named. We received a few young pieces in Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless from the deal but both were unproven and raw for the most part. It was a dismal outlook for this team; lackluster veterans with terrible contracts, no star to build around, promising but uncertain rookies, and a whole lot of doubt. The future wasn't looking too bright.
The regular season didn't improve much from there. A poor record and no outstanding players, as well as being riddled with injuries. The only bright spot was the surprisingly steady play of the rookies and young projects. It was hard to find anything to take away from the first half of the season except that we have some potentially good youth, but who are going to be stuck on a doomed team.
Then came the turning point - the Trade Deadline. I was surprised at the positive moves the team made. The JJ Redick trade may hurt us in the short term but we weren't doing anything this season, for sure, and I doubt he would have resigned at the end of the season. And the even more positive part, the crown jewel no one anticipated (although Hennigan will probably claim he did); Tobias Harris. Man this kid looks impressive. It seemed like he set a career high every game and even that one block on He Who Shall Not Be Named alone won him my trust (a rare prize, I might add). I can see him being the staple of this franchise for years to come as long as he continues to progress as he is at the moment. Along with Harris we also received Doron Lamb, who I believed the Bucks got a steal with, and Beno Udrih who can capably fill Ish Smith's role in the short term. I also was happy with the dumping of salaries; dropping Gustavo Ayon in the Bucks deal and essentially releasing Josh McRoberts and getting money. This certainly wasn't the performance I was expecting this Trade Deadline.
While I'm at it, a quick salary breakdown;
(Go to " http://www.hoopsworld.com/orlando-magic-team-salary " for more)
Looking at that, the thing I notice the most and, that I'm most pleased with, is the lack of Player Options. Look at Moe Harkless for example; one of our most promising young talents who is locked up for, potentially, the next 4 years. You'll notice a similar trend with the structure of all our other young prospects as well - a lot of Team Options and Qualifying Offers. A fine job by our Front Office. (Unfortunately though, that table also displays some of the horrible contracts - let's just ignore them)
Finally, I love the decision (I still think he had to make a decision on it, even if his hand was forced due to multiple injuries) by Jacque Vaughn to give the young players increased minutes for the remainder of the season. There's nothing left in this season except hope for some competitive spirit from out prospects and a high draft pick. Any experience these players can get at this early stage in their careers is priceless, and hopefully it will stand to them in the next few years where, I really really really hope, we will be back in contention for the playoffs.
Thank you for reading and sorry if it was too long. Feedback is always appreciated - let me know if you agree or if you think I'm an idiot and as always