Welcome back to the same place we were last year...and the year before that...and the year before that.
It’s Aaron Gordon trade rumor month — when the “This is the year AG take a leap” season has come and gone and the “This is the year AG gets traded” season has officially begun.
Monday was a banner day in the long history of AG speculation, with not one but three outlets revealing juicy details on Gordon and his potential destination. As I said, we’ve been here before. And we’re back here again, meaning nothing has come from those past rumors despite Gordon being perpetual trade bait/clickbait.
We can always take the “Maybe this is finally the year...” approach, given the state of the injury-ravaged Magic and the quality of the draft class and the fanbase’s desire to bottom out, though that sentiment may not necessarily be shared by the front office.
Gordon has never taken the leap that’s been hoped of him. But he’s also never been surrounded by the proper offensive players. He’s been asked to do too much. He’s been surrounded by too little.
It’s his strong points — his defensive versatility, his ability to handle the ball when needed, his declining contract that drops to a very reasonable $16.4 million next season — that are compelling to potential buyers. Those strengths may also give the Magic pause when talking potential trades because no one really knows what Gordon can truly be in the proper situation. Maybe Gordon actually becomes the best version of himself on a team with two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic, a healthy Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, and by the grace of the draft lottery Gods, a Jalen Green or Cade Cunningham who can create off the dribble, shoot from the outside and give the Magic a more consistent and dynamic second-scorer than Evan Fournier.
There’s a lot of blind hope in that paragraph - with a grand mix of sustainability, health, development and luck. But blind hope is about all this Magic franchise has to cling to at the moment.
Still, it makes sense for the Magic to shop Gordon and see what’s out there. And this year’s chapter of the Aaron Gordon Trade Deadline Chronicles came with a plot twist:
Gordon is open to a change in scenery, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
That, if true, is the first public acknowledgment I can remember of the possibility of Gordon considering his next stop, which comes as no surprise given the Magic’s lack of success, the endless trade rumors, the constant disappointment in what he isn’t rather than appreciation for what he is, and the front office putting ill-fitting players and comparable frontcourt building blocks around him that make him expendable.
Maybe that means there is more traction to the Gordon trade talks this time around than there has been in previous years.
So, let’s quickly recap the highlights from the Aaron Gordon tidbits that surfaced on Monday:
— The Nuggets, Rockets and Pistons have inquired about Gordon, per Haynes.
— The Magic are open to taking calls on Gordon, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. Shams said that the Timberwolves and Blazers are among the teams to show interest. We heard rumblings of the AG-to-the-Wolves chatter earlier this season, and Gordon has been linked to the Blazers in previous years so nothing new there.
— The Rockets, Mavericks, Nuggets and Warriors expressed interest in Gordon dating back to the draft, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
— The Magic were close to an agreement that would have sent Gordon to the Wolves for Ricky Rubio and future draft picks, per Fischer.
— Before acquiring James Harden, the Nets offered either Spencer Dinwiddie or Caris LeVert for Gordon, but the Magic “were seeking a higher draft asset that the Nets were able to secure,” Fischer reported.
— A Denver deal would center around Bol Bol, and a Mavericks deal around Dwight Powell, per Fischer. These two players make zero sense for the Magic so what exactly would be included?
— The Pelicans are high on Gordon, per Fischer.
— The Rockets wanted to net Gordon in the multi-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn and instead brought Victor Oladipo to Houston, asking teams to engage the Magic, per Fischer.
— The Rockets still want to flip free-agent-to-be Oladipo in a trade that brings them Gordon, per Fischer.
A lot of teams, names, and clickbait there. We don’t know what’s true, what’s a smokescreen, or what’s entirely fabricated.
But we do know one thing: we’ll probably be having this same exact Aaron Gordon conversation at the trade deadline next season.