So where are the Magic right now?
They are still in asset collection mode. Winning is not at the forefront. We will get to that in a moment.
Part of asset collection mode is being able to move pieces and Arron Afflalo has been rumored to be the most tradeable piece on the Magic's roster. The veteran guard can fit into a role very easily and be a solid contributor for a contending team.
Would the Magic be willing to part with Afflalo? According to Magic Director of Pro Scouting Harold Ellis, not so much. He was on the Talkin Hoopz podcast and said it would take a lot for the Magic to trade Afflalo.
I know a lot of rumors are circling with Arron, we love Arron. We view Arron as almost a core player with us. It would have to be something crazy for us to part ways with Arron. We love him." Everybody calls for him, but we stood tight. If I was another team, I would call for him also.
Calling Afflalo a core player, or a near core player, is a pretty big statement. That might signal what the Magic are looking for in return for Afflalo. This will, of course, feed any conspiracy theorists who believe the Magic have some weird fascination with Afflalo. Hennigan's assistant general manager Scott Perry had a hand in drafting Afflalo while he was with Detroit.
Afflalo though has been a good presence in the locker room and a true professional. He led the team in scoring last year before the Tobias Harris trade with 16.5 points per game in a much more expanded offensive role than he has had at any other point in his career.
Last season, Orlando won 20 games and had the worst record in the league. This after starting the year 12-13 behind strong play from veterans Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and Jameer Nelson. Perhaps that team hovering just outside the Playoffs is still there for the Magic.
An improvement over the 20-win season seems pretty likely for the Magic with the expected growth of Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris and the addition of second overall pick Victor Oladipo. Mix that with some veterans and there will likely be a few more wins.
How many more wins? That depends on who you ask.
The Playoffs have been broached only by the most optimistic of Magic fans and observers. Those inside the Magic though do not seem to think it is so far-fetched although it would not be the primary goal.
The weekly podcast Talkin Hoopz is one of the people who believe the Magic could compete for a Playoff spot this upcoming season. And Magic Director of Pro Scouting Harold Ellis agrees this Magic team has improved and is on track for continued improvement. That is part of the plan.
"We want to kind of take the slow build. We don't really want to peak too early. We understand that we're young. We understand we got a lot of talent.
There is a great chance we catch Atlanta. But we want it to be a slow process as far as developing our young guys. If we don't make the Playoffs next year, it's not a loss for us. We just want to get better every year.
I think Rob [Hennigan], he's doing a great job at building and we're all working toward building a team.
We're not saying it's playoffs or die. We want to build a team where when we do make the Playoffs, we're in the Playoffs year in and year out. Hopefully the fans will stay with us and back us. They understand. Everybody has just been great about the whole process of rebuilding this team and I think we're going in the right direction.
Ellis told the crew over at Talkin Hoopz to keep a special eye on Maurice Harkless, Doron Lamb and Romero Osby. If youa re a Magic fan, that makes total sense. All three played extremely well during Summer League.
Lamb averaged 11.3 points per game, shooting 50.0 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from beyond the arc in two games before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the week. Harkless averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor and showing off a much more aggressive and confident demeanor with the ball. Osby was a workhorse in the low post, averaging 11.0 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game off the bench.
All three were an embodiment of the kind of work ethic the Magic want their players to develop.
Whether that comes together to create wins this series is another story.