Magic Playing Let’s Make a Deal?

It seems any time a trade rumor pops up, Orlando’s name comes up. As it probably should at this point.

It is no secret the Magic are in win now mode and have lots of assets to offer to get the perimeter scorer everyone thinks the team needs to get over the hump and win the title.

Just about every big name on the trade market has been linked to the Magic from Chris Paul to Carmelo Anthony to Gilbert Arenas. A lot of these rumors — especially the Arenas deal — will not seem to go away.

The interesting part is Orlando is not letting them die either. Otis Smith has never flat out denied he was involved in several of these big-name rumors. Smith has always maintained to the press that he is always exploring ways to improve his team.

Adding a perimeter scorer would ultimately do that. But the question is: At what cost?

There is undoubtedly an interest in keeping some form of cap flexibility for the year Dwight Howard becomes a free agent. So a long-term, max contract (like Gilbert Arenas’) would not work. A guy like Golden State’s Monta Ellis (if he is available, which this SLAM Magazine rumor suggests) or even Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala (he has not been mentioned in specific rumors, but there are more than a few Magic fans who would favor him if Anthony or Paul are off the table).

But Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel revealed Monday that the Magic may be willing to sacrifice something else to win a title. Namely: this season.

It is strange to hear that especially this early in the season considering Otis Smith was saying our goal is to win a championship even when the Magic were struggling to make the playoffs. I find it hard to believe Smith will take a step back this season for some future move — especially since this is still a title-contending team.

But there it is in Schmitz’s article: “They would even be willing to take a step back this season to restock if it meant they could land either Anthony or Paul.”

That is a pretty thought to have at this juncture. The Magic might be willing to take a step back to reload. It says two things to me.

First, if the team feels it cannot win a title this year, they know they cannot maintain this much spending. That means looking for a short-term contract who can provide a scoring lift this year and be exchanged for more than one player. You can see I am trying to rationalize not acquiring Gilbert Arenas as much as possible. But the short-term flexibility is important considering Dwight Howard’s free agency is impending.

It also means Orlando is unwilling to “rent” a player. That means if Carmelo Anthony were to find his way to Orlando, Otis Smith and company would need an assurance he would sign an extension in Orlando. With that in place, they may pull the trigger. Without it, he is not worth the risk.

Third, it means there is some trepidation that this unit may not be able to win the title. I think many Magic fans have felt that as well. But to have this kind of a story come out makes you a little more unsure. If the management is putting out this kind of a feeler, what exactly does that mean?

Of course, it could also be complete misdirection too. The Magic might be trying to get a survey of who is available and then bide their time before those teams get desperate to unload a contract they no longer want that the Magic would be willing to take on. That seems just as likely.

A trade is probably not going to happen tomorrow. Anything that does happen will certainly wait until 2011 if not until the trade deadline in February. But it is very peculiar to see the Magic so openly (through anonymous sources, of course) about a possible trade. 

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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