As part of SB Nation’s holiday season coverage, Orlando Pinstriped Post was asked what the Magic want for Christmas. Be sure to check out the blogs for each NBA team to see what was at the top of their list this year....
All the Magic want for Christmas is Victor Oladipo back.
Magic fans would gladly go caroling on Oladipo's door step and serenade him with "All I Want for Christmas Is You" if it would help them get a 25-year-old who is in the midst of a breakout season, set to make his first All-Star game, attacking the basket at will, shooting a career-best 43.2 percent from three, blossoming into a marketable star poised to become a bonafide franchise player, and entering the prime of what now looks to be a highly promising career at the bargain price of $21 million per year.
But, after giving away Oladipo for a 56-game Serge Ibaka rental that was ultimately flipped into Terrence Ross, it will be another disappointing Christmas for the Magic, who won't get the gift at the top of their list to Santa.
Orlando had what they wanted - what they needed - but nobody really knew it. So they gave it away in the same manner you would dispose of the ugly sweater your Grandmother gave you for the holidays.
Since the Magic can't get exactly what they want for Christmas, perhaps they can get what they need: a top-three draft pick and some wise front office decisions, both of which in recent years have been hard to come by for the Magic.
After their surprising early-season success that made a return to the playoffs seem a possibility, the Magic have dropped 17 of 20 games to put themselves back into lottery ball and tank talk.
Landing a top-three pick - something the Magic haven't done since...well, since they drafted Oladipo with the second pick in 2013 - would give them options rather than having to settle for the player that falls to them. Particularly with a top-heavy draft class that currently seems to have a consensus top-six of (listed in alphabetical order) DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Mohamed Bamba, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter and Trae Young.
At the moment, the Magic are slated to pick just outside the top-six, behind teams that are in full rebuild and tank mode. In other words, in regard to draft positioning, the Magic are just good enough to not be bad enough. Ensuring the Magic are best positioned to fall in the top three will require difficult decisions by president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond. Should the Magic (wisely) decide to pull the plug on what is increasingly beginning to resemble another lost season, they’d have to consider clearing the roster of anyone not named Aaron Gordon (who at 22 years old, still has potential to make that Oladipo-like leap) and Jonathan Isaac (a promising rookie with stretch-four potential and defensive versatility).
With a team-friendly contract, Nikola Vucevic could hold the most trade value for a team in search of a stretch-five. Elfrid Payton, set to become a restricted free agent, could be a viable back-up point guard for a playoff team in need. Mario Hezonja, boosting his value with his recent production, could draw interest from teams believing he still has untapped potential.
And hopefully, by some Christmas miracle, these trades work out better than the Oladipo (and Tobias Harris) trades made by the previous regime, allowing the Magic to gather assets of some kind.
This holiday season, the Magic want a symbol of hope about as badly as Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun. That hope will likely come, not from within or through free agency, but through the draft.
So Magic fans should beg Santa for that top-three pick...or beg the Pacers to trade Oladipo back to Orlando.
Orlando Magic Christmas List
1. Victor Oladipo back
2. A top-three pick
3. Sound decisions by management
4. An Oladipo-like leap by Aaron Gordon
5. For Elfrid Payton to improve his jumper and P&R defense
6. Rim protection by Nikola Vucevic
7. Consistent energy on the defensive end
8. Players who box out
9. Classic 1995 white throwback jersey night
10. A rebuild of the rebuild’s rebuild with a clear plan for the future
Feel free to share your thoughts on what the Magic need for Christmas in the comments below.