It takes two to tango, and two, sometimes three teams, to make a trade in the NBA.
For the Orlando Magic, they’re finding out just how difficult it is to find a partner to make a move at this years trading deadline. As ESPN scribe Zach Low put it, the market is “clogged,” with players that no one wants for the price, or clogged with long-term deals no one wants to touch.
With just under 48 hours to go before the deadline, the Magic, have made everyone not named Aaron Gordon, and Johnathan Isaac readily available via trade, according to Lowe.
Speaking of Orlando: Everyone but Gordon and Isaac is readily available, per sources around the league. Most expect Elfrid Payton, a free agent this summer, to be elsewhere by next season, and I’d agree.
A league source recently told Orlando Pinstriped Post that the Magic have been one of the most active teams in the trade market, discussing deals for ever player on the roster, including the likes of Gordon and Isaac. The source also said that, while Isaac’s name had come up, it was more in exploratory talks, meaning the Magic aren’t looking to move the rookie forward, but they have seen what they could, potentially, land if they were to include him in a deal.
In his column on the trade deadline, Lowe talked about what the Magic might want to do, like unloading Bismack Biyombo, but said that, unless they were to attach a first round pick, it would be hard to move the albatross contract the big man is on. Add in the fact that losing right now, ahead of a very good draft class, helps the Magic more than anything, and Biyombo is not moving the needle.
Lowe also mentioned a deal he tossed around in a recent episode of his podcast, The Lowe Post, where the Magic would send Gordon to the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers for the Brooklyn Nets unprotected pick, which was acquired in the blockbuster Kyrie Irving deal.
With another rebuild likely coming for the Magic, moving Gordon for something along those lines would make sense. They would get another young building block, and should they be having cold feet about paying the high-flying forward in free agency, could get a nice return for him.
While Lowe threw around the idea, in pure speculation, he doesn’t think making a move like that for Gordon would necessarily be in the best interest of the Magic.
Orlando would do this only if they are squeamish about paying Gordon something like $20 million per season. He might draw a giant offer sheet this summer. Orlando probably shouldn’t be squeamish. Trade Gordon, and you have almost nothing beyond Jonathan Isaac to show for years of post-Dwight tanking. Gordon is really good. He will get better. Even at a big salary, he is worth more than the typical No. 6, 7 or 8 pick on a cost-controlled rookie-scale salary.
Paying Gordon is one of the biggest questions the Magic will have to answer this summer. At only 22-years-old, Gordon is undoubtedly continue to improve in all aspects of his game. But, is he worth tying the long-term money to? Will he be able to transform into that All-Star calibre player, and face of the franchise, the Magic desperately need?
Add in Gordon’s injury history — Gordon has yet to play a full season in his four-year career — and things could get a little murkier for a Magic front office that, in the end, isn’t tied to Gordon.
Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix echoed what Lowe reported, saying the Magic are one of the top teams looking to be “sellers” at the trade deadline. Mannix said that, in recent days, the Magic have been shopping Mario Hezonja “hard” and that the team is unlikely to bring back point guard Elfrid Payton next season.
Like Atlanta, the Magic are open for business. Jonathan Isaac is considered untouchable, while it would take a significant offer to pry Aaron Gordon loose. Orlando’s new management doesn’t seem interested in bringing back Elfrid Payton, whose 3-point shooting percentage has spiked to 37.3 percent this season, and Mario Hezonja has been shopped hard in recent days.
Things will likely begin to heat up across the league on Wednesday, with the deadline falling at 3 PM on Thursday afternoon. The Magic, who finish the second half of a back-to-back tonight at home against the Cavaliers, don’t return to action until Thursday evening at home, and could do so with a very different roster.