As I sit down this holiday season to write a piece about what the Magic can do leading-up to the NBA Trade Deadline in February to improve their team, I can’t help but come to the realization that something is slightly different this time around.
I’ve been writing for Orlando Pinstriped Post for three NBA seasons now, and usually the tone of these articles is something symbolically similar to waving a white flag for the rest of the year. “Sell the veterans on expiring contracts, try to accrue assets, play out the rest of the season allowing for young guys to gain minutes, try again next year.” Rinse, repeat.
However, this season - I’m not doing it.
Orlando’s roster is flawed, I can see that as plainly as the next person. The Magic have a serious talent deficit at the point guard position. Their roster lacks enough sufficient NBA shooting/scoring wing-players to compete with the best teams in the league. They’re still trying to work a bunch of random parts into one cohesive unit with sustainable opportunities for success.
Lately, that simply hasn’t been something attainable (sustained success). The Magic have dropped three ugly games in a row (six of their last eight) and memories of years past, when the Magic have briefly started seasons strong just to quickly fade from NBA relevancy, have started to flood back.
Still, the Magic (even with their poor play the last couple weeks) are only two games back of the Southeast division leader and one and a half games back from the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
And I have now arrived at the point of why I’m writing this piece. Mostly due to the fact that a number of teams in Orlando’s division have stumbled out of the gate this year, the Magic are still well within striking distance in the Eastern Conference. It’s the goal of Orlando's upper management group to make the playoffs this season, and with a minor move or two, I still think that goal is reachable.
This piece is not a swing-for-the-fences article where I formulate blockbuster trades in which the Magic acquire Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell, Terry Rozier, or even Markelle Fultz. If that’s what you’re looking for, the list of players below is probably not for you.
Rather than a home-run move, think of these suggestions as “singles”, or possibly even “doubles” depending on how hard the batter hustled out of the box.
Okay, enough baseball analogies for now. The following five guys may not overwhelming jump off the page, but they certainly are just “whelming” enough to help the Magic in some crucial areas.
Justin Holiday (29 years old)
Shooting Guard - 6-6, 185
Holiday would be a huge get for the Magic. I could see his potential role in Orlando involve starting alongside Evan Fournier, or even coming off the bench and taking some of the offensive load off Terrence Ross’ shoulders. Either way, Holiday could provide for the Magic exactly what they need.
Holiday is a veteran player who’s had to fight his way into the NBA, find a way to carve out minutes for himself, and has now finally earned a permanent featured role in Chicago. Holiday isn’t the most efficient player inside the arc. He’s not a guy that’s going to get to the free throw line very often either.
However, Holiday can space the floor and score the basketball. The Magic saw what Holiday can do in Mexico, where he caught fire from three-point range (4-5 3PTA’s) while scoring 18 points in a losing effort. Holiday is a solid enough defender, he’s got decent size for a wing player, and he’s not going to hurt you defending the perimeter. He’s also a plus-rebounder for a guard, posting two double-digit rebounding performances already this season. Trading for Holiday could be the exact kind of low-key move the Magic make to position themselves more favorably for a run at the playoffs.
Why would the Bulls want to trade a guy that has started every game for them? Well, clearly the Bulls are going nowhere this season. They’re already in full-blown tank mode, and Holiday’s contract expires at the end of the season. He’s making just under $4.4 million this season, which is a relatively easy contract to trade for. Potentially acquiring Holiday would just depend on what Chicago wanted. Again, because his contract is up at the end of June, I wouldn’t offer anything more than an end of the bench player and a future second round pick (or two).
Trey Burke (26 years old)
Point Guard - 6-1, 175
Writing a piece advocating for the Magic to acquire Burke is honestly something I never would have imagined myself doing, but here we are. The Magic desperately need help at the back-up point guard spot; bringing in Burke would be a nice gamble in an attempt to shore up that position.
Burke was selected ninth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, but he never lived up to lofty expectations over three seasons in Utah. He was traded to the Washington Wizards, who let him walk after one season. It looked like Burke was possibly on his way out of the NBA entirely, but the Knicks took a chance on him that has really worked out for all parties involved.
Burke has reinvented himself playing for the Knicks these last two seasons. In ’17-’18, Burke posted career highs in the following categories: PER (21.0), TS% (56%), AST% (36%), OBPM (4.2), and VORP (0.6). The Magic organization has seen first-hand what Burke is capable of when he gets hot. He torched the Magic in late February of last year, scoring 26 points off New York’s bench while leading them to a win in Orlando. And not to be outdone, Burke exploded for 31 points against the Magic this past November in Orlando (again, coming off the bench). Safe to say, Burke is comfortable inside the Amway Center.
Burke has never been a guy that poses a ton of defensive resistance. If the Magic acquired the Ohio-native, it would be all about his ability to score and distribute the basketball (for Coach Clifford’s second unit). Burke has scored 15 or more points in a game eight times this season, something Jerian Grant has yet to do in a single game. His contract expires at the end of this season, and he’s only making $1.8 million this year. The Knicks have younger pieces, such as Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina, that need minutes over the course of another lost season in New York. For the right offer (a future second round pick and a throw-in guy), Burke should be available this winter.
Troy Daniels (27 years old)
Shooting Guard - 6-4, 205
Acquiring Daniels would satisfy one need for the Magic in a big way: perimeter shooting. The VCU product owns a career three-point percentage just over 40% through his five NBA seasons. Sliding Daniels into Orlando’s second unit would take tons of pressure and attention away from Terrence Ross. Daniels sports a career 4.2 three-point makes per/36 minutes.
Coincidentally enough, Orlando’s head coach is already familiar with Daniels. Daniels played for Clifford in Charlotte from ‘14-’16. Over his 54 games in Charlotte, Daniels connected on 48% of his three-point attempts (1.4 3PTM’s in just over 11 minutes per game).
Daniels has never been much of a defensive threat; that’s probably why he’s never had a larger role for some of the franchises he’s played with. But we’re talking about a guy with a true shooting percentage of nearly 58%. He’s a specialist, and his one elite skill is something the Magic are desperately lacking in.
Daniels is currently wasting away at the end of the bench in Phoenix with an expiring contract ($3.3 million). One would think that Orlando could offer Phoenix just about anything (future second round pick, end of bench/non-rotational player) if they wanted to bring Daniels in.
Rodney Hood (26 years old)
Small Forward - 6-8, 205
By this point of the article, perhaps you might be picking up on an overall theme of what the Magic need? Orlando should be trying to shake-free wing shooters/scorers from wherever in the league they may be available.
Rodney Hood fits that description. Hood can play either wing position, he’s got decent size, he can put the ball on the floor a bit, and most importantly - he can score the basketball (career 16.9 points per/36). Hood could potentially provide the Magic with another wing floor-spacer; his presence could push Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac to “big” forward roles, something they both seem better suited for.
I may be speaking out of turn assuming that Cleveland is willing to part with Hood. The sixth-year pro from Duke has started every game for the Cavaliers this season. However, things haven’t gone smoothly for Hood since he arrived in Cleveland. Hood showed some immaturity during the Cavs playoff run last season when he found himself out of the regular rotation (though he did finish with a couple strong games in the Finals). Hood flew mostly under the radar as a restricted free agent last summer, and eventually accepted his qualifying offer from Cleveland. The Mississippi-native is set to become an unrestricted free agent this upcoming summer. He’s making $3.5 million this season, a contract reasonable enough to trade for without giving up a whole lot in return (I would assume a future second round pick, or even the OKC heavily-protected 1st in ‘20 would probably be enough).
Milos Teodosic (31 years old)
Point Guard - 6-5. 195
Teodosic came to the NBA at an advanced age after a stellar career in the Euroleague. The Serbian point guard was a six-time all EuroLeague selection, and was named the EuroLeague MVP in 2010 while playing for Olympiacos (Greece). Teodosic has also starred on his national team, leading the Serbians to medals at EuroBasket (‘09), the FIBA World Cup (‘14), and the Summer Olympics in Rio (‘16).
In Teodosic’s rookie season in the NBA last year, the veteran point guard shot just under 38% on three-point attempts. He averaged 4.6 assists per game in just over 25 minutes per game. However, Teodosic’s role with the Los Angeles Clippers has been greatly reduced this season. The point guard minutes have been going to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (L.A.’s lottery pick from ‘18 draft), Patrick Beverley (who missed most of last season with an injury), and Tyrone Wallace.
Teodosic has only logged minutes in 15 of the Clippers’ 33 games played (10.0 minutes per game). Considering the fact that the Serbian’s two-year NBA deal is due to expire at the end of this season ($6.3 million), Teodosic doesn’t seem to be in Los Angeles’ plans whatsoever.
Some may think that Teodosic wouldn’t even represent an upgrade or improvement over Orlando’s current point guards on the roster. He’s a bit older than the rest of the core of the Magic roster, I get that. But I just think the cost (or risk, if you will) of acquiring Teodosic would be minimal. He’s a basketball veteran that could help Orlando’s second unit move the basketball, get in their offensive sets, and bring stability and consistency to the position. And for those reasons alone, his availability is well-worth exploring.
What do you think Magic fans? Do you like some of these suggestions? Have some players of your own in mind that the Magic can acquire? Leave your comments below. You can follow Aaron Goldstone on Twitter (@AaronGoldstone).