As part of SB Nation’s NBA Trade Deadline coverage, Orlando Pinstriped Post was asked to answer some questions about the Magic and the trade market.
The vultures have already started circling the Magic. Playoff teams are ready to pick apart Orlando’s roster and use whatever valuable pieces the Magic have to their advantage.
Might Evan Fournier catapult a team like the Pistons from a fringe playoff team to a fourth seed? Could Nikola Vucevic be a valuable back-up center on a championship contender? We soon may have answers to those questions.
1) With the trade deadline approaching, do you consider the Magic to be a “buyer” or a “seller”?
The Magic’s general manager, John Hammond, is about to become the league’s most active salesman. Unlike many of the league’s current bottom feeders - like the Hawks, Kings, Lakers, Mavericks – the Magic actually entered the season with playoff aspirations. They now have one of the worst records in in the league, a core of talented misfits and, with a top-heavy draft class, plenty of incentive to sell and tank. So, in the coming weeks, the Magic front office may place advertisements or make infomercials to show just how eager they are to sell and hit the reset button on the rebuild.
2) What are the top tradable assets on the Magic’s roster? What players are “untradable”?
While the Magic’s core have been unable to generate team success, they are talented enough to hold value as individual pieces. Before Nikola Vucevic suffered a broken hand in late December, which will likely leave him out of action until around or after the All-Star break, he would have probably been the Magic’s top tradable asset. An offensive-minded center, with a newfound ability to stretch the floor thanks to a career-best 34.3 three-point shooting percentage, Vooch could be a fit for contending teams that already have a defensive anchor in place. His team-friendly contract, which after this season has just one year and $12.75 million remaining on it, is appealing. Though his broken left hand is not his shooting hand, potential buyers looking to make a playoff or championship push could be scared off by acquring damaged goods.
Evan Fournier, slated to make $17 million per season through 2021, has already had his name involved in trade rumors. Averaging 17.6 points per game, the 25-year-old Frenchman could provide some scoring punch and spacing on the wing for a team in need. As he showed during a career-night on Tuesday...
Evan Fournier wth a career-high 32 points tonight. Live look at the phone in John Hammond's office as GMs from around the league call to make a trade offer pic.twitter.com/6ed2wT92bt— O. Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) January 17, 2018
Those teams in search of a back-up point guard should give the Magic a call about Elfrid Payton. Set to become a restricted free agent, the 23-year old has long been vilified by many Magic fans, mainly because of his shortcomings on the defensive end. He could be a useful piece for a front office exec searching for a playmaker (as long as they don’t covet outside shooting and pick-and-roll defense).
If teams are interested in renting unrestricted-free-agent-to-be Mario Hezonja, or even trading for him and re-signing him to an extension over the summer, he may benefit from a change in scenery.
For the perpetually rebuilding Magic, the word “untradable” probably isn’t in their vocabulary. Barring a trade that brought in a proven star, Aaron Gordon, who is set to become a restricted free agent, and Jonathan Isaac, a promising rookie under team control for the next few years, are likely off the market.
3) What holes do you think the Magic will try and fill at the deadline?
As expected tankers, the Magic won’t be filling holes at the deadline, they’ll be intentionally creating them if they are able to sell off their core pieces and gut the roster. More holes means more losses. More losses means more lottery balls. More lottery balls means more chances of getting a player to fill those holes long term.
4) What’s the Magic’s “dream trade”?
In a perfect world, Giannis Antetokounmpo has an affinity for Mickey Mouse and Disney World and demands a trade to Orlando. Here’s a dream trade courtesy of ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine. Would the Magic be willing to throw in their first round pick?