It’s time to put the finishing touches on our ranking of the Orlando Magic’s offseason moves from best to worst.
The grand conclusion begins with Timma Time...
Gifted us the Janis Timma Summer League experience
Although Summer League contests usually generate little in the way of meaningful basketball memories, we’ll always remember the Magic’s 2021 Vegas bouts for one reason: Timma Time.
Janis Timma, a 29 year old small forward out of Latvia, certainly took a languid route to the NBA. After declaring for the rookie draft in 2013 he was taken with the 60th overall and final pick by the Grizzlies, who shuttled him to the Magic two years later in one of many, many Luke Ridnour deals. For almost a decade he remained as nothing more than a draft and transactional footnote.
Deciding to swing for the big leagues before the opportunity escaped him permanently, Timma arrived in Vegas sporting both an indisputable swagger and obvious ‘grizzled old man at the pick up game’ energy. He shot the ball early and often, making a mark in games that are traditionally filled with youth and unproven talents. Once Suggs went down, in terms of viewer interest, it was pretty much Timma Time all the time.
Realistically, it’s unlikely that Timma finds a way to stick with the Magic; despite being an NBA rookie he’s a veteran looking to play, while the team is probably better suited to taking a flyer on someone who fits the timeline of the youth. However, we’ll always have the blond-topped memories of his five-game Vegas stint to ensure his ongoing cult status among the Floridian faithful.
Chose not to add a wing
This one might be an extension of the previous entry, but it’s worth emphasizing. Despite being stacked with bigs the Magic are thin on bodies at the traditional small forward slot, with Terrence Ross and … not much else at the position.
Maybe Chuma Okeke spends some time there. Maybe Jonathan Isaac does once he returns. Maybe Franz Wagner can slide down for stretches. Or maybe the positional designation doesn’t actually matter all that much, as long as the Magic can get at least a little shooting and defensive versatility out of the various wing slots. Regardless, it seems a curious decision to have not found a player best-suited to small forward, particularly when the incumbent Human Torch also figures to be one of the team’s most important trade assets as we near the deadline.
Orlando isn’t trying to win big this coming season, so the roster awkwardness likely doesn’t matter all that much. Still, there’s usually a cost accrued in deploying players out of position. Let’s hope that the decision to not plug one of the roster’s more obvious holes is not one that ends up stymieing the development of any of the team’s collection of valuable young forwards.
Traded pick 33
There are some unmistakable certainties when it comes to life as a Magic fan. The accumulation of impressive wingspans. Inbounds turnovers in the backcourt. All-Star centers leaving for California. Now we can add another to the list: inevitably trading out of the second round.
In shipping out the 33rd overall selection to the Clippers — for a future second that will almost certainly be worse (and everyone’s favorite player, ‘Cash Considerations’) — Orlando has now traded away second round draft picks in five of the last six years. In fact, the only time they failed to do so was in 2019 when they actually didn’t have a back half selection to potentially deal away. It’s a shame, particularly considering one the side’s best relative value picks of the last decade came after the first round finished.
There are certainly ways to justify the move. Maybe talent evaluation was right that the draft had flattened out. Roster space was already at a premium. There are only so many rookies that any team can carry. All of these make some degree of sense in a vacuum, but they overlook the fact that the Magic are a team that need to be taking as many swings at talent as possible. Punting away one of the more potentially valuable second rounders for a future asset that will almost assuredly be worse just doesn’t seem like the smartest way to do business.
And with that, we arrive at the end of our evaluation of Orlando’s offseason. In many ways it was an understandably quiet one, but even still there are a handful of moves that have the potential to pay off in a huge way moving forward.