What does the summer hold for Orlando is the question on every Magic fan’s mind! With so many decisions to be made what are the priorities? Here we break down some of those questions to be answered.
The Number 1 Draft Pick
I guess there is only one realistic place to start this look at the Magic’s summer. Having lucked out in the Draft Lottery to land the number 1 pick Orlando’s front office have the unenviable task of picking between the universally touted top 3 options. All three have potential to be brilliant in Orlando, but all three come with some risk. In some years there is a universally agreed front runner, this year not so. That is leading to much debate amongst Magic fans.
In no particular order the top three prospects are Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith Jr.
Jabari Smith Jr
Should the team take a punt Auburn‘s Jabari Smith Jr? The 19 year old, 6ft 10 power forward is said to be strong on 3 point shooting, with ability from the deep and mid range. He is able to make tough shots against defenders. Defensively he is said to be strong on the perimeter, deflecting passes and is a solid rebounder. Weaknesses and improvements in his game are obviously present, said to be settling for a shot, attacking the basket, drawing fouls, rim protection and playmaking.
There is the 20 year old Chet Holmgren centre and power forward of Gonzaga, standing at 7’0. He is seen by some as a risk due to his body size. Length, shot blocking and defending in space are listed as qualities on the defensive end. Offensively finishing around the basket, stretching the floor with a high basketball IQ, good hands and clever movements are his upside. There are questions about his shot creation, ability to retain the ball, his speed and ability to set a screen.
The final guy in the top 3 is the 19 year old, 6ft 10 power forward out of Duke; Paolo Banchero. A versatile, crafty and aggressive scorer, with good playmaking, clever footwork and ball handling skills Paolo is said to be able to create his own shot. Powerfully built he is also strong on rebounding. As with every player coming into the league there are weaknesses. Those being highlighted particularly are lateral foot speed, his defensive IQ and awareness. Plus shooting consistency is seeing flags.
Trading The Pick
There is another option to explore for the Magic Front Office and that is trading the pick. Here there are multiple options of packaging the pick with players to bring in an established NBA player. Could the Magic benefit from future capital if they are not set on one particular guy if for example Oklahoma wanting to move up from the second pick? If any calls come in it would be folly not to expect John Hammond and Jeff Weltman to explore those fully.
What Does The Summer Hold For Orlando In Free Agency
What does the summer hold for Orlando is in no small way is also about the moves in free agency.
Orlando are in a position that few teams are in this summer, with a lot of cap space available. We are talking a figure north of $28 million, a sum that should allow the team to make an offer enough to attract someone to the team. However before that money is used there are several internal decisions to be made. So what does the summer hold for Orlando’s current free agents Gary Harris, Mo Bamba, Robin Lopez and Bol Bol?
Is Mo Bamba A Keeper?
As a full-time starter for the first time Mo’s numbers spiked across the board. He was one of just four players in the NBA to average at least 1.5 blocks and 1.5 threes per game, hitting a 38.1% from the three.
Mo is a big who can protect the paint and space the floor but the question remains; does Orlando have too many bigs to justify bringing Bamba back? Both Wendell Carter Jr and Jonathan Isaac have been previously extended, so assuming JI’s fitness the starting frontcourt could be set. Can we satisfy the individual with enough minutes for all three whilst benefiting the team?
Bamba is a restricted free agent, so Orlando will have the option to match an offer sheets received. It is seldom good business to give up a young prospect as a rebuilding team but Orlando will have to weigh up the price compared to his fit and benefit for the organisation.
Where Is The Future Located For Gary Harris?
Gary Harris found his form again during the season, in which he downed 38.4% of his threes. It should see him being a sought after free agent through his ability to play solid defence whilst providing wing shooting.
Harris is an unrestricted free agent. At 27 years old the shooting guard has 8 years experience and earned $21 million last season. That is potentially an investment too far in a backcourt that already has Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony.
On the right deal many Magic fans would love to see Harris return to represent the pinstripes. Some feel he is better suited at this point to a team such as Cleveland or returning to Denver.
What Of RoLo and Bol Bol?
Robin Lopez was an effective and popular option last season. Whenever Captain Hook was asked to play he contributed. The 34 year old veteran played in 36 games, averaging a shade over 7 points, 1.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in under 14 minutes per game. His popularity with the team and fans is undeniable. RoLo earned $5 million last season.
Bol Bol was acquired at the trade deadline from Denver, via Boston. He arrived injured and is yet to play a minute for the team. His career averages are difficult to judge as he was never a regular option at Denver other than in end of game trash time. Bol has played in just 53 games (all with Denver) since being drafted with the 44th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by Miami. His career averages are 2.7 points and 1.0 rebound in 6.2 minutes per game. Whilst that is very little at this time, he is a guy that many NBA experts have high expectations of including a certain Shaquille O’Neal.
Do The Magic Target A Veteran Presence Or A Younger Core Piece?
It is universally accepted that experience is imperative for growth of young players. That experience comes from playing in games but also from mentoring by veterans who are willing to impart their knowledge. Orlando are genuinely lacking in this area.
Orlando are in a position that they can offer attractive offer sheets, possessing one of the largest cap spaces available this off-season. It is probably unrealistic to expect the Front Office to swing big and bring in a star. There are some intriguing options available this summer, especially restricted free agents. With cap-space available Orlando could seek to put an offer sheet in for a younger option that their current team are unable to match.
However if the team are not seeking a win now deal I’d expect the team to display caution. A full list of free agents available is viewable here on spotrac.com
Trades And Terrence Ross
Aside from the decisions on free agency the Magic will have to decide if some of their young talent is surplus to requirement and can be packaged up to net a strong future pick or playing option for now.
It seemed certain that Terrence Ross was to be moved at the trade deadline in mid-season. It never happened and Ross is again the subject of speculation around his future. Sadly; coming off a poor season The Human Torch has a lesser value than previously. Therefore to make a trade effective for Orlando it is sensible to look at who or what could be added into the scenario.
As yet we have not mentioned that Orlando own two excellent picks in the second round of this year’s NBA Draft, numbers 32 and 35. This Front Office have a history of not using the second round pick and being honest how much more youth can Orlando carry?
There are also the picks Orlando own in the first round of future Drafts. The Magic own nine first-round picks in future years. This includes the Chicago’s first rounder in 2023 and the 2025 first round pick acquired from Denver.
Also regularly mentioned in these scenarios are Chuma Okeke and RJ Hampton. They are still both developing their game but are not seen by many fans as being anything other than role players. Truth be told for the right deal it would not be a great surprise to see names which some fans consider to be untouchable included, such as Cole Anthony or Jonathan Issac.
No Answers Here Only Questions
As fans as we talk over the question of what does the summer hold for Orlando, the truth is simply this: we know nothing. There are only questions and opinions, we all have no actual answers.
Let’s be honest here, anything you are reading on NBA media as “fact” is simply speculation. Weltman and Hammond have never let anything slip in the media. They guard their plans jealously. Whilst they are in charge expect no repetition of the 2017 debacle of guard Patricio Garino’s signing. If you recall in the background of his contract signing photograph was a whiteboard that appeared to reveal some of the then front office’s thinking heading into the offseason.
There is no question that rebuilding in the NBA requires patience and a little luck. This is only YEAR TWO of the transformation of this roster. There are no shortcuts as we develop the talent possessed in-house. The team will I believe make trades that are shrewd and not over spend in free agency.
However the decisions to be made this summer feel like a pivotal moment in the team’s future. Taking the right player in the Draft, resolving on the team’s own free agents, whilst bringing in new and needed talent. We as fans will all have our opinions.
The team have numerous failings to address and a decision is needed as to which is the most pressing. Is it wing shooting? Or is it inefficient play at the guard position you would like to see as a priority? Perhaps it is that the Magic were 29th in offensive efficiency and struggled in pick-and-roll actions?
What Does The Summer Hold For Orlando – In Summary
So what does the summer hold for Orlando?
What The Team Needs
- Player development of the third-youngest team in the NBA.
- Some consistent shooting from deep
- Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac to be both healthy and effective.
- Reliable bench scoring.
- A decision on the backup centre.
Resources To Build From
- The number 1 pick in the draft, making 3 picks in the top 35 of the 2022 Draft.
- Youth! Orlando currently has five players on rookie deals.
- Restricted free agent Mo Bamba. Is his future with the Magic or could a sign and trade net a greater return?
- Free agents Gary Harris and Robin Lopez could still have a future role with the team.
- Cap flexibility! The team can create up to $27 million. That can be more if Gary Harris is not re-signed.
- Orlando have a midlevel contract available at $5.3 million.
- Terrence Ross is an expiring contract. His talents make him a trade-able asset.
- Future draft assets with the Magic owning nine first-round picks in future years.
- Finally, there is $6.3 million in cash to send or receive in a trade.
Strap in Magic fans as from June 23rd this off-season could be a wild ride!
Keep watching our podcast Penny For Your Thoughts as we continue to talk about what does the summer hold for Orlando!