In Part I we began our ranking of the Orlando Magic’s top offseason moves from best to worst, including the drafting of Jalen Suggs and the addition by subtraction of Dwayne Bacon.
Let’s pick up where we left off...
Signed Robin Lopez
The 2021 combination of a Lopez brother and the Magic is a match seemingly made in Disney-heaven. From Orlando’s perspective they add a veteran center to round out their depth at the position, one with a reputation as a great locker room guy and beloved teammate. For Robin Lopez, it’s a move that pays him handsomely to warm the bench and provide legitimate competition during training sessions, while also significantly increasing his proximity to rollercoasters and potentially launching his comedy career with his new running mate, Stuff. Win-win.
Even in the twilight of his career Lopez is still a capable rotation player in the NBA. He never extended his range like his brother did, but he remains a solid defensive presence with a hook shot at the other end that apparently continues to grow in stature. In fact, it’s this general aptitude that is the only part of this signing that might give one pause; is Lopez really going to be content ceding all of his minutes to the combination of Wendell Carter Jr and Mo Bamba?
One can only assume that in signing with the team it was made clear to the veteran big man that playing time will come only in ‘break in case of emergency’ circumstances. It’s probably also a fair assumption that some of the negotiation regarding the final dollar value of his contract — a cool $5 million for the year — centered on this fact. The Magic are paying Lopez well to round out the center rotation and offer a veteran voice of mentorship for the youth they already have at the position. He seems like a fantastic choice to fill that role.
Signed Moe Wagner
Re-upping the second Wagner brother in the team’s only other noteworthy free agency move was a mild surprise when compared to the Lopez signing. Where Ro-Lo filled an obvious positional need, Wagner Mach II seems to add only a little more redundancy to a roster already possessed of just that at his preferred playing slots. Whether he’s a power forward or a center remains to be seen, but the fact remains that the Magic now have a substantial number of bodies who will be jostling for playing time at these positions, many of whom cost the team significantly more in way of draft and development capital than the German big man.
Still, Moe Wagner was solid in his stretch with the team at the close of last season, enough so that he probably deserves a chance to return and find out if he can build any further on the promise he flashed. Plus, there are positive vibes to be enjoyed by adding to the roster a pair of brothers who appear to have a playful and good-natured dynamic to their relationship. For a team that knows it’s not going anywhere significant this season anyway, a chemistry addition with one of the final main roster slots is probably the right call.
Signed Iggy Brazdeikis to a two-way contract
Brazdeikis is back! Snagging one of the team’s two-way slots, the young wing will extend his stretch in Central Florida as he looks to carve out a career in the league. He was actually a reasonable performer in unexpectedly big minutes at the close of last season, putting up averages of 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in almost 30 minutes per-night, converting the deep ball at a clip of 40.7% and generally passing the eye test despite playing for a team that was horribly outmatched every night.
Iggy B isn’t the type of signing that makes or breaks a team’s fortunes, nor is he the type of player that jump-starts a rebuild. In fact, we probably won’t even see all that much of him at the NBA level this coming season — 50 games is the absolute max, should an opportunity created by injury arise. Still, he at least plays at a position of need for the side and is young enough that his timeline matches the team’s intended trajectory should he really show something. As a depth signing the Magic could have done a lot worse.
Check back soon for the third and final installment as we discuss some of the Magic’s more questionable offseason decisions.