As the much-anticipated NBA trade deadline approaches (February 23rd), it’s time for yours truly to do some mythbusting and tackle some trade ideas head-on involving the Orlando Magic and some other clubs around the league.
This season has clearly been a disappointing one for the Magic, and the unreasonably high expectations about what this team could achieve have all but been abandoned. Magic fans have been relentlessly feeding the Trade Machine for weeks now attempting to conjure the fix that will ultimately turn everything around. And admittedly, I too have been perusing other NBA rosters around the league to check out what potentially is out there. I’ve also started routinely visiting DraftExpress a lot sooner than I thought I would be this season, following closely some of the projected lottery picks in this June’s upcoming draft and checking out some of their scouting videos.
In short, we all feel the team needs change. And I think we all feel change (in some form) is coming. But still, let’s temper our expectations; let’s be an aware and reasonable fan base. Let me address some things that are out there; things I’ve read, heard, seen in comments sections, etc.
1. Trading for Brooklyn’s 2017 pick (owned by Boston) is a bad take
Forget about it, it’s not going to happen. It’s seems like nearly every article that’s posted on this site includes a comment in the comments section about trading for Boston’s 1st round pick (Boston has the right to swap picks with Brooklyn this year, which they will of course do). It’s all the same, something like “lets trade Serge Ibaka or Nikola Vucevic to the Celtics in return for the Brooklyn pick, that will fix everything.”
Brooklyn has the worst record in the NBA at the moment and I don’t see a thing that’s going to change its trajectory moving forward. So Brooklyn’s pick, which has a great chance to be #1 overall in this year’s draft, is probably not an asset Boston is willing to move for a four-month Ibaka rental, or Vucevic, even on a cap-friendly deal. The Celtics are loaded; they can hold on to Brooklyn’s pick and continue to be even more loaded, or they can use that asset to chase a superstar (Paul George, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, etc.). Ibaka, Vucevic, or literally anyone on Orlando’s roster for that matter, is not worth to the Celtics anywhere near as much as that pick. It’s a pipe dream, it’s not worth mentioning in any discussion related to the Magic.
Ibaka or Vucevic could perhaps be dealt to Boston, I’m not saying there’s not a chance. There’s just no chance such a deal would involve Brooklyn’s 2017 pick.
2. The Lakers pick Orlando owns in 2019 is NOT as valuable as we all think it is
Rob Hennigan was able to bring in a decent haul in return for Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012, you have to at least give him credit for that. Orlando was definitively the winner of that trade; the Magic were able to accrue three starters from the deal, and none of the other guys involved in that deal even play for those respective teams anymore. In exchange for Howard, the Magic were able to bring in Vucevic and Moe Harkless from the Sixers, Arron Afflalo (who of course became Evan Fournier) from the Nuggets, the worst of the Nuggets or Knicks 1st round pick in 2014 (famously known as the WoNK, which was used to select Elfrid Payton), a couple inconsequential second-round picks, AND a future first-round pick from the Lakers.
This Lakers pick must be conveyed two years after their first-round pick (‘17) is conveyed to Philadelphia (via Phoenix). Here’s where the problem exists: the pick the Lakers owe Philadelphia in 2017 is top-three protected, meaning if the Lakers are slated to pick 1st-3rd in this upcoming draft, then they will be able to keep their pick. It seems more and more likely as the season rolls along that the Lakers will receive a very high pick in the 2017 draft; they currently sit at 17-34, which is the third-worst overall record in the NBA.
Who cares, right? What does this have to do with Orlando? Well, if the Lakers don’t convey their pick to Philadelphia this year, then Orlando WILL NOT receive the Lakers’ 2019 1st round pick - period. That’s right, that asset is no longer an asset. Orlando would in that situation receive L.A.’s second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.
Do you think we could call those picks the “L.O.S.S.” picks? You know, the Lakers Other Second-round Selections. Yes? No?
A second-round pick from the Lakers this year won’t be terrible—it will probably be in the 33-35 range—but it’s still not the asset a lot of Magic fans make it out to be. Perhaps Hennigan could use this asset in the upcoming trade deadline before it depreciates as the days go by. I doubt he will be able to fool anyone, but who knows?
3. The Magic are not trading for Zach LaVine
Who did this? Where did this idea come from? I get why Magic fans would be interested in LaVine; he’s young, uber athletic, exciting, and a legitimate scoring threat every night. But who in their right mind actually believes Minnesota would move him right now?
I just don’t get this infatuation to propose daily trades that involve Zach LaVine. Is it just because Gordon and LaVine put on one of the great dunk contest shows of all-time, and now Orlando fans can’t get the thought of those two sharing the court out of their minds? Hennigan did pass on LaVine when he had a chance to draft him twelfth overall in 2014.
Get him off the brain; come on, Magic fans, we are better than this. I know, I know - Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau wants veterans on the team who are committed to defense, he’s sick of losing, etc. You all have to know he was talking about Shabazz Muhammad, right? Maybe Ricky Rubio (although Rubio is a very solid defender)?
Thibs may hate losing, but he’s also no dummy. Thibodeau has been around the NBA a long time, he knew what he was getting himself into agreeing to coach a roster where the three best players are all under the age of 23. He’s not signing off on a deal breaking up his core to rent Ibaka for four months.
Am I missing something here?
4. Is moving Jeff Green going to be harder to do than we thought?
Sure, the Magic had to pay someone, I guess. Yes, Green’s deal is only for one year; no harm, no foul. Correct, nearly all playoff teams are looking for a player like Green at the deadline. Oh the lies we told ourselves last summer....
Seriously, though: who’s going to take Jeff Green? I know he’s a low-risk expiring deal for a team trading for Green, but salaries have to somewhat match. Even in this salary cap inflated era, $15 million is surely nothing to sneeze at. Guys on those kind of deals around the league are either a) the type of players playoff contending teams aren’t going to trade (because they are important) or b) non-desirable players on non-desirable contracts that the Magic want no part of anyway. I guess a team could combine a few contracts to get in the $15 million ballpark, but now we’re just throwing things at the wall, right? What team would actually go out of their way and make the effort of trading multiple players to Orlando just to acquire Green?
Green is playing through his worst-shooting season of his professional career, and to make matters worse, his minutes come at the expense of a couple former Magic lottery picks. If the Magic can’t find a taker on Green by the deadline, I honestly think they should consider buying him out of his contract and waiving him. Then he would be able to go to a contender for the stretch run on a minimum deal, and the Magic would have more opportunities to play anyone else on the roster besides Mario Hezonja. I mean, oops.
Probably an expiring contract and a second-round pick in return for Green is the most we all can hope for.