This is the biggest offseason since 2012 for the Orlando Magic who found out their fate on Tuesday night in the NBA Draft Lottery. Here is a look at some of the key decisions facing the Magic over the next few months.
On Tuesday night, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum revealed the lottery picks for this June’s NBA Draft. Unfortunately for the Orlando Magic, their number was called earlier than many had hoped and will be picking with the 6th overall pick on Thursday 21st June.
After a season full of disappointments and injuries, the Magic were looking for a glimmer of hope in the NBA Draft Lottery, looking to kick start the rebuild under President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman, who now has the mammoth task of turning the franchise around.
Weltman has already started making statements since the season finished in April, firing head coach Frank Vogel, his coaching staff, the strength and
conditioning team, the athletic team and other members of the Magic organisation. To change the culture and the atmosphere, changes are necessary and more are to come in the coming months. Here are some of the top decisions that Jeff Weltman and John Hammond have to make before the start of next season.
Hiring A New Head Coach
Frank Vogel was not the problem in Orlando, he had his weaknesses that included his offensive schemes and odd line ups he liked to put out on the floor. But his 2 years in Orlando, he was given a poorly constructed roster that lacked talent and with a change in management, Vogel was always going to be on the hot seat along with the players.
This is the biggest decision that the Magic will make this summer, finding a head coach that can create an identity, develop the players, provide stability and grow with the team over the coming years. Whoever the Magic hire in the coming days and weeks will ultimately shape the organisation for the next 5-10 years, something they have to get right and learn from the mistakes of the previous management.
A lot of teams have gone through their own head coaching changes this offseason, Orlando have been very quiet about who they’re looking at, who they’ve interviewed and when the decision will be made by. Now the NBA Draft Lottery is over, I expect a hire within the next week, some of the names to watch out for are Jerry Stackhouse, Nick Nurse, Dwane Casey, David Vanterpool and Ime Udoka.
The NBA Draft will be another chance for Orlando to add some much needed talent to a roster that currently lacks it. Picking at six is an interesting position for the Magic, who maybe in a position to take a player who falls from the top 5, widely regarded as Luka Doncic, DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr and Mo Bamba.
It looks unlikely that the Magic would trade up or even have the assets to do so, but if Jackson Jr or Bamba fell to the Magic at six, I’d expect them to draft either. If Orlando are serious about signing Aaron Gordon to a long term deal and Bagley falls to them, they may well trade back.
The players that are expected to be their when Orlando picks are Trae Young, Michael Porter, Wendell Carter and Mikal Bridges. The job then is to bring the players in for workouts, look back at scouting tape and begin to piece together their big board for Draft night. A lot of factors will play into the decision once the Magic are on the clock.
Let’s not forget also, that the Magic will have two 2nd round picks in June, picks 35 and 41. These picks will give Orlando another opportunity to find a couple of nice rotation pieces, Weltman and Hammond did a nice job of drafting Wes Iwundu last June.
Resigning Aaron Gordon
Once the Magic have hired a new head coach this summer, Jeff Weltman has a couple of big questions to answer, is Aaron Gordon worth investing in for another 4-5 years, what’s he worth and is it better to let him walk if he’s offered a max contract by another team in free agency?
Investing in Aaron Gordon is a no brainer IF you believe you can put a coaching staff around him that allows him to develop and continue to show improvements past next season. Resigning a 22 year old who has shown a big improvement in his game this season including his outside shot, I believe you have to resign Gordon even if it is max. The last thing the Magic fan base wants to see is another player like Victor Oladipo land on another team and become an All Star caliber player, thats why coaching and culture are vital to a players progression and development.
But a team going forward with Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon and say Trae Young, plus some rotation players like Jonathon Simmons and Wes Iwundu is absolutely something to build with. Management have to decide though what that looks like in the next few years.
Revamp The Roster
The last big decision this summer is how do the Magic regain some cap flexibility, who do they move on from and who do they target to bring in? If the Magic resign Aaron Gordon, the team will have almost no cap room going into free agency, tied up with some big contracts like Evan Fournier and Bismack Biyombo.
Orlando have to try and move off some of the contracts that have the Magic in a hold right now, the question is do you give up more now to gain cap space quicker or do you sit on those deals for another season and try and move on next summer? Whatever path management take, it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better in terms of wins. But through the draft, trades and free agency, can the Magic slot together a more balanced roster that has a chance to build together for the foreseeable future?
Nothing is off the table for Orlando this offseason, the only player who is likely untouchable is Jonathan Isaac. This team could look vastly different heading into summer league and training camp, it’s time to move on from some of the guys like Fournier and Nikola Vucevic, who whilst loyal, might benefit from a change of scenery and the Magic can reset this summer.