Going into the 2014 draft, the Orlando Magic were in a position to make a big splash. Holding the fourth and the 12th picks, the Magic were in a position to make a big splash as they dove even deeper into their rebuild. What was unknown at the time, however, was the fact the Magic had their eyes set on someone not many were looking at.
According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Magic were enamored by then 18-year-old Kristaps Porzingis, so much so that they guaranteed to select the big man with their second pick. As the draft neared, however, it became less and less likely that Porzingis, who told Wojnarowski that he entered the 2014 draft to "just get my name out there," would stay in the draft.
At the end of the day, despite being guaranteed a selection in the lottery, Porzingis decided to pull out from the draft, claiming he wasn't ready for the NBA. Thus, Porzingis was betting on himself to get better, a tactic that has backfired on so many young, talented prospects before him. But, for Porzingis, it worked out, and in a big way.
In his report, Wojnarowski says that the Magic would've been open to allowing Porizingis to stay in Spain for another year to continue to hone his craft to where he felt he would be able to contribute in the NBA. The New York Knicks rookie's agent, Andy Miller, told the Vertical that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan had a plan drawn out for the long-term regarding the talented youngster.
"Rob had a thorough, comprehensive plan," Miller told The Vertical. "He had invested as much, or more time, into Kristaps as anyone in the league. He really studied him. They had a plan for supplemental training, development. It wasn't just, 'Let's just draft him and see what happens.' This was a plan. Kristaps knew the plan and just wasn't ready."
Despite that guarantee, and plan from Hennigan and the Magic, Porzingis made the call to pull out of the draft and waiting until he was ready. As Wojnarowski writers, Hennigan was "heartbroken," but was also able to take solace in the fact that the player they chased so hard, and so desperately wanted had a high maturity level and didn't waver in his decision making.
Hennigan would, potentially, have another chance to get his man, though, with the Magic set to pick fifth in last years draft. However, following Porzingis' public workout in Las Vegas, Hennigan knew he wouldn't be getting the seven-foot-three big man.
After Porzingis' pro day workout in Las Vegas this June – a public workout for all 30 NBA teams – Hennigan felt empty walking out of the gymnasium. This time, Orlando had the fifth pick in the 2015 draft. And he believed his chances of getting Porzingis had evaporated. "He won't get past four," Hennigan told friends on his way out of the workout.
In the end, Hennigan was right. Porzingis was taken fourth overall by the Knicks -- after his camp seemingly did everything they possibly could to keep him away from the Philadelphia 76ers at three -- with the Magic going with another talented international youngster in Mario Hezonja fifth overall.
While the report from Wojnarowski should be no surprise, some of the small details are. According "Woj," the Magic would've taken Porzingis 10th, which was the pick held by the 76ers -- in the end, the Sixers took Elfrid Payton and traded him to the Magic for the rights to Dario Saric -- which would seemingly mean the Magic and Sixers had a handshake agreement in place prior to the draft to make a deal.
Even though they lost out on Porzingis, who is one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year right now, the Magic still have three young, talented players to show from the last two drafts.
At the end of the day, the Magic were unable to get the guy they wanted, which happens. While Porzingis would fit in perfectly with what the team needs, they still have a stable full of young, talented players who can grow together and take them to, potentially, great places.