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NBA Draft 2018: The Orlando Magic should trade for Luka Doncic

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Why the Magic should get Doncic and how they can make it happen. Plus a podcast with final NBA Draft predictions

Basketball: Luka Doncic Sipa USA-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Orlando Magic have been tied to Oklahoma scoring sensation Trae Young ever since the departure of former lottery selection, Elfrid Payton.

Young possesses the offensive skill and vision to become a superstar in the NBA, and should he fall to the Magic at six, chances are high the Magic will pull the “trigger.”

Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the debate between Collin Sexton and Trae Young has become ‘razor thin’ in the Magic front office, but with the way the draft is unfolding it’s impossible what to predict could happen by the time the Magic selection approaches the podium.

Let’s start with the Phoenix Suns, and the first overall selection:

Jonathan Givony, NBA Draft expert of ESPN and Draft Express told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, ”It’s going to be Deandre Ayton. I would take (Luka) Doncic personally, but I’m definitely in the minority there.”

Then, speculation continued on the Sacramento Kings’ selection:

Per Jonathan Givony, Sacramento is “not very high” on Luka Doncic and is targeting former Duke star Marvin Bagley III.

Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News went a step further and called Bagley-to-Sacramento a “near-lock.”’

According to Kyle Newport of Bleacher Report...

So now we come to the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks recently ‘soured’ on Jaren Jackson Jr. according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News

“There are fears that Jackson is soft, and word is that Atlanta has ruled out drafting Jackson with the third pick. The question for Jackson, then, will be whether the size and athleticism he has shown in workouts will outweigh the inconsistency he showed on the court.”

So, here we are, the third selection, belonging to the Atlanta Hawks, and a critical decision: Trae Young or Luka Doncic. Many have the Hawks selecting Young, including our own Aaron Goldstone and Zach Oliver. Now this is where the fun begins.

We know the Memphis Grizzlies will be besides themselves with joy should Doncic fall to them. However, we also know that they would be even more elated to rid themselves of Chandler Parsons’ ‘poison pill’ of a deal with two years and $49.2 million remaining.

Michael Scotto of The Athletic hints the Grizzlies might be pried from their coveted pick should the right package come along. That package should come from the Orlando Magic.

This only works under the premonition that the Memphis Grizzlies rate the following two players in the draft (Bamba, JJJ, MPJr, etc) closely or near evenly with Doncic. It also rests under the precursor that the Magic evaluate him above all other players in the drat.

If the Magic truly see Doncic as a ‘franchise player,’ and a ‘cornerstone,” then they need to go get him.

It shouldn’t take much to change selections. Robert Pera, the Memphis owner, expects the team to win 50 plus games.

So the deck is set for a team to offer ‘win now’ talent in exchange for the contract.

The trade looks something like this:

Number four and Chandler Parsons

For

Number Six and salary filler

Now, how do you fill that filler?

Many will say “Biyombo,” but this is simply not possible. There exists no path where the Grizzlies would be interested in an equally immovable contract at an even less valuable position.

However, the Magic still need to avoid the tax. Based on my calculations involving a four year $100 million deal signed by Aaron Gordon, and the $5 million per year annual contract that number four pick, Josh Jackson signed last year, the Magic simply need to clear $16 million to make the math work, and avoid the tax ($123 million). The salary cap is set at $101, but teams are allowed to exceed via signing their own players, exceptions or trades.

This trade can take place with just Terrence Ross and his $10 million, and Shelvin Mack and his six. However, that puts the Magic right at the line, and a bit of breathing room could be beneficial, specificially for adding veteran talent to groom the young players.

In that instance the Magic should be willing to cut ties with Evan Fournier and Mack, giving the Magic $7 million in space under the $123 million threshold.

The Grizzlies acquire a useful scoring option in Fournier, dump Parsons’ contract, and save $7 million in cap space once they dump Mack in addition to acquiring this year’s sixth overall pick.

Why would the Magic do this, you ask!?

Here are three reasons:

1. The Magic must believe Luka Doncic to be the best player in the draft and a franchise cornerstone. Superstars in the NBA are like quarterbacks in the NFL, you do what you have to do to get them, even if it means three first round picks as it does in the NFL. In this scenario, the Magic are giving up nothing, except a journeyman point guard, and a potentially effective sixth man on a contending team.

2. Who cares if the Magic fill up their cap space with bench fodder? The Orlando Magic are not expected to compete this season. The sole purpose needs to be in developing young talent and achieving Aaron Gordon’s ceiling. At 18/8 it isn’t inconceivable to imagine him challenging for an All-Star spot in the near future.

3. The Magic would henceforth be LOADED with expiring contracts in both 2019 and 2020. With Nikola Vucevic’s deal at $12.5 million bringing the ability to acquire outside talent from a luxury tax paying team, to Biyombo and Parsons’ bringing the ability to sign potentially $52 millions worth in 2020. (Teams can trade up to $5 million more or less than salary moving in/out.)

Let’s explore who needs to dump salary in 2019:

Washington, Toronto, Portland, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, OKC, potentially Utah, the Pelicans, Houston

We’ve seen what happens when superstars want to leave, and when high profile players tell teams they will not resign, and the Magic will be in a perfect position to swoop in. We know that the Magic cannot lure these players via free agency, at least not yet. Now let’s take a look at what is available on the market for an expiring in 2019.

Potentially:

KAT, Patrick Beverly, Kristaps Porzingis, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Tobias Harris, Ricky Rubio, Deandre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Morris twins, Alec Burks, Wilson Chandler.

Not good enough?

Don’t worry. Let’s explore what could become available leading up to the summer of 2020, when the Magic will have three building blocks in Doncic, Gordon, and Isaac, a 2019 first round pick, in addition to $42 million dollars via the expirings of Biyombo and Parsons’ alone!

Anthony Davis, Gordon Hayward, Mike Conley, Dame Lilliard, DeMar DeRozan, CJ McCollum, Otto Porter, Rudy Gobert, Bradley Beal, Giannis Antetokoumnpo, Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry, Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Harrison Barnes, Kevin Love, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Draymond Green, Eric Gordon, etc, etc.

You may hear Magic fans say that they shouldn’t take anymore bad salary. However, the Magic are rebuilding, and in no place to contend. Acquiring high profile assets is exactly what they should be doing. And if you can’t attract them via free agency, you need to take bad salary. And taking that bad salary may result in the 2018 NBA Draft’s best player coming to Orlando.

Download the latest episode of “Do You Believe in Magic,” to hear Preston explain why the trade makes sense for the Magic, and to hear predictions on the Draft’s events from Aaron Goldstone, Zach Oliver, and Will Ogburn.

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