We are inching closer to the March 25th trade deadline, with Aaron Gordon spending what could be his final days within the Orlando Magic organization.
Years of trade speculation surrounding AG seemed to go to the next level last week when it was reported that Gordon is open to a change of scenery.
That was expanded upon Monday morning with The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Sam Amick reporting that Gordon formally requested a trade from the Magic. (Subscription needed and highly recommended)
Gordon has every right to request a trade. He’s spent his entire seven-year career on a mostly bad and occasionally mediocre basketball team, he has played for four different coaches in that time, he has watched the front office draft comparable players and make misfit signings rather than address more pressing needs, he has played out of position, and he has not complained or publicly expressed frustration during any of it.
It’s the leaking of the formal trade request that won’t sit well with the Magic, mainly because it can directly impact the timing, leverage and potential return on investment. But even with Gordon’s request, the Magic are under no obligation to trade him by Thursday if the return isn’t close to their asking price. While their hand won’t be completely forced until next season when Gordon is in the final year of his deal, which will pay him $16.4 million, his value is much higher now with that full season locked in than it will be this time next year when Gordon would be as a shorter-term rental before hitting unrestricted free agency.
And while Gordon has every right to request a trade, the Magic have been and continue to be well within their right to deal him. Gordon has his strengths and he could be - and probably will be - very valuable when in the right system, the proper role, and surrounded by more complementary players, but he has never shown the consistency required of an All-Star caliber player. His Jekyll-and-Hyde routine mixing flashes of brilliance and mediocrity is quite common, with the latest example having taken place over the weekend:
Aaron Gordon:— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) March 21, 2021
vs. Nets - 38 Pts, 14-20 FG, 7-8 3PT
vs. Celtics - 12 Pts, 3-13 FG, 2-7 3PT
vs. Nets - 31 Pts, 10-13 FG, 6-8 3PT
vs. Celtics - 16 Pts, 6-19 FG, 2-8 3PT
Whether his full development has never been reached because Gordon simply isn’t that type of player or because the Magic never put him in position to reach his full potential is a chicken-or-the-egg debate we can have for hours and in the end still disagree about.
Either way, change is needed within the organization, and Gordon no longer wanting to be in Orlando adds some urgency to the situation.
Here are the highlights from the most recent round of Gordon trade rumors...
Per Weiss and Amick:
- Gordon had his representative ask Jeff Weltman for a trade in February
- Boston, Houston, Minnesota, Denver and Portland have been at the center of trade talks
- The Magic are seeking multiple first-round picks or a combination of a pick and young player
- Gordon wants a fresh start in a “competitive environment where he can play a pivotal role”
- Gordon wants to be in a large market to “help him fulfill his basketball potential and maximize his profile by being in a large market with plenty of branding opportunities” (Sorry, but I find that last point about market size and branding comical in today’s day and age)
- The Rockets, Warriors, Celtics, Timberwolves and Blazers have all had talks with the Magic about Gordon, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer
- The Magic and Rockets discussed a deal involving Gordon and Victor Oladipo. With Oladipo having “no future in Orlando,” the deal would likely require a third team or Houston have to add additional picks or assets
- A “last-minute hiccup” killed a deal that would have sent Gordon to Houston. Talks with the Blazers have “diminished”
- Any team that trades for Gordon wants assurances he’ll sign an extension
- The Magic are seeking two first-round picks and a young player for Gordon
Stay tuned. And be sure to check out our Aaron Goldstone’s list of seven players the Magic should target at the trade deadline.