In an NBA Draft where most teams seem willing to trade down, the Orlando Magic reportedly are looking to trade up.
The Magic certainly have a recent history of zigging while the league is zagging — offense built around a center, point guard who can’t shoot, prioritizing defense and wingspan, drafting a redshirt rookie — and these trade rumors, if true, certainly would extend that trend.
On the surface, the initial rumors made some sense: the Magic are looking to move up in order to (I hope) ensure they can address their shooting needs and land someone like Aaron Nesmith.
They became less believable when Aaron Gordon’s name made its annual stop in the rumor mill. Not because the Magic can’t or won’t trade Gordon, but because, with this draft class, it’s so clearly not the time or the place to do it.
Yet, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported that the Magic are looking to move into the lottery by packaging Gordon and their No. 15 pick. It was a surprising report, particularly when this Magic regime keeps their organizational plans and anyone who knows about them locked in a vault somewhere.
But in this reported scenario, the Magic, a team so badly trying to dig their way out of the NBA’s no-man’s land of mediocrity, would trade a serviceable NBA player, all to move up a handful of spots in a draft where even the top pick could be a swing and miss. There’s no guarantee that any player in the 2020 draft will prove to be more valuable than what Gordon currently is. There’s no guarantee that the fifth player selected in the draft will prove to be more valuable than the 15th.
For a Magic organization that can ill-afford to botch another trade, the return on an Aaron Gordon deal simply must be more than better positioning in a crapshoot draft. Particularly when Gordon’s apparent would-be successor, Chuma Okeke, is a crapshoot himself.
Gordon is a flawed player who has shown an ability to take the long-awaited “leap” for only a week or two at a time, displaying tantalizing flashes that inevitably dim. Time has run out for making excuses for AG, even if there are many begging to enter the conversation — he’s played for four head coaches in six years, he’s played out of position, he’s never been in a modern lineup surrounded by reliable shooters.
Gordon, with his playmaking and defensive ability, can be a key component on a team needing him to simply do what is within his skill set. The Magic need to find that team if they are going to package Gordon, and in exchange, receive a proven commodity who will make an immediate impact (someone please call the Kings about Buddy Hield).
If they can’t do that right now, they need to keep Gordon until a better deal surfaces. He’s only 25 years old, he’s signed for a reasonable $18 million in 2020-2021, and he will go a full season without playing the small forward misfit alongside Jonathan Isaac.
Hope that Gordon either drives up his trade value or finds his place within a very shaky Magic core. Either way, continue to take calls.
It makes perfect sense to trade Aaron Gordon. Just not for anyone in this draft class.