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Orlando Magic offseason questions: Part I

A condensed offseason is just around the corner, and there are many questions surrounding the Magic

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It’s been a quiet few weeks for the Orlando Magic.

The team is in between what was a frantic NBA restart and what will be a condensed offseason. Once the NBA Finals conclude and the offseason calendar officially begins, many of the questions facing the Magic will be answered in a hurry.

Here are some of those questions, each of which we will dig deeper into individually in the upcoming days and weeks.

1. Does Evan Fournier opt in?

Orlando Magic v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images

A career-best regular season. A dismal postseason. A global pandemic. A league revenue loss. An uncertain salary cap.

Not a great combination for a near-28-year-old seeking a multi-year deal. Fournier has $17 mil guaranteed on the table for next season. Expect him to exercise that player option as soon as he is able to do so.

2. Does Aaron Gordon get traded?

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

There are three annual questions regarding Aaron Gordon.

The preseason question: Is this the season Aaron Gordon takes a leap?

The in-season question: Is this who Aaron Gordon is?

The offseason question: Is this the offseason Aaron Gordon gets traded?

The Magic will take calls, as they should. The internet rumors will fly, as they already have. But with the injury to Jonathan Isaac, and with Gordon coming off an up-and-down injury-riddled season, and with two seasons left on AG’s contract at a by-NBA-standards bargain price ($18.1 million in 2020-21 and $16.4 million in 2021-22), and with the whole Oladipo/Tobias thing likely making the Magic understandably gun-shy, Gordon is likely to stay put for another run-it-back season in Orlando.

3. Who will the Magic draft?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The team has enough length. The team has enough character. The team has enough redshirt rookies.

It’s time to draft someone who can score/shoot the basketball. Here are some early mock draft results:

CBS Sports: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

Orlando is invested in ensuring Markelle Fultz finds success, but its backcourt depth is a real sore spot. Getting Cole Anthony addresses depth behind Fultz and also gives them a lethal scorer who could grow with Fultz. He can make shots in a variety of ways and has enough playmaking chops on the ball to wear different hats as an offensive weapon for the Magic.

NBC Sports: Theo Maledon, PG, France

In a draft filled with talented guards, Maledon is likely going to get slightly lost. He has good size and has shown some ability overseas, but he probably isn’t ready for the NBA just yet. Orlando has Fultz, but he hasn’t really shown that he is ready to take this team to the next level. Maledon would be a very nice insurance policy to develop behind the scenes.

Bleacher Report: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

The Magic don’t usually take needs into account during the draft, but Lewis’ speed at the point guard spot might seem too enticing to pass up. Though his decision-making and execution need work, the Magic should value Lewis’ ability to generate scoring opportunities with his transition play, breakdown quickness, off-the-dribble footwork and shot-making.

The Ringer: Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina

I’m not buying the Markelle Fultz renaissance as much as everyone else is. It’s great he’s improving, but he still shot only 26.7 percent from 3 and 36.8 percent on all jumpers. And his shot remains ugly. Fultz can contribute, but he can’t be counted on as a building block, so the Magic could use a lead ball handler. Anthony is a former top high school prospect who struggled as a freshman but remains a dynamic scoring talent.

4. Who is the back-up point guard?

Indiana Pacers v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Markelle Fultz now has a stronghold on the Magic’s starting point guard spot, but both of his back-ups are set to become unrestricted free agents.

Do the Magic bring back the trusty veteran in the soon-to-be 33-year-old D.J. Augustin to provide some balance with his shooting ability? Do they bring back Michael Carter-Williams after a season in which he carved out a valuable role for himself, shooting be damned? Do they bring back both? Do they bring back neither and draft a point guard? Time will tell.

“It’s going to be a waiting game,” Augustin recently told our Aaron Goldstone regarding his impending free agency. “At the end of the day, I love Orlando. I hope I can finish my career here, but sometimes that kind of stuff is not up to us as players. We feel like it’s home. I love the fans, I love the city. I’ve been here four years, (Orlando) feels like home to me. So hopefully I can possibly finish my career here.”

5. What can be expected of Mo Bamba in Year 3?

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Two years into the Mo Bamba experiment, the young center remains the biggest project on the Magic roster.

Bamba’s first two campaigns have both ended prematurely – his rookie season by a stress fracture in his leg and his sophomore season by conditioning issues stemming from COVID-19. There were some positive takeaways from Bamba’s second season: improved three-point shooting, elite shot-blocking ability, an impressive rebounding rate. But also some concerns: getting lost on defensive rotations, getting outmuscled down low, getting neutralized offensively in the post.

Year 3 will be a crucial one for Bamba as the Magic determine where and if he fits within the team’s core.

“He’s got great ability,” Jeff Weltman said after the Magic season ended. “He’s still just beginning his career. He’s in the infancy stages of his career. His body is filling out and he’s already shown flashes when he’s been given the chance of becoming a good player. So that’s just what he’ll have to deal with, and we’ll go through that with him. And we have every confidence that he’ll come out the other end being a very good player for a long time.”

Part II coming soon, with questions regarding Nikola Vucevic, Chuma Okeke, Markelle Fultz and more.