Now that the season is over, it is time to review the last five months. This is our yearly look back at what went right and what went wrong during the 2013-14 season.
When Rob Hennigan took the Magic general manager job two years ago, he preached patience. There was a process to rebuilding the Magic. There was a process to trading Dwight Howard and excising the most value from a no-win situation. The Magic are two years into this rebuild and have not really gotten anywhere. This is a process.
At some point that patience runs thin. That point might be coming up this season.
Still it deserves some kudos again to the Magic management to have a plan and stick to it in the end. There were surely some offers for Arron Afflalo that would have netted the Magic an expiring contract or some veteran but not the young player that would truly help the Magic’s future and long-term building. Afflalo still had value in the locker room as a leader and someone who would keep the younger players hungry and driving to win.
Maybe, holding onto Afflalo will prove to be an unwise decision. Maybe the Magic have overplayed his value.
They certainly did that with Jameer Nelson — some reports had him heading to Washington if Washington could not complete the Andre Miller trade at the deadline. And now Nelson’s future with the team is uncertain. But, like with Afflalo, the right deal never came along and the Magic were not ready to sacrifice an asset for something that would not help the long-term goals for the team.
Orlando was not making a deal just to make a deal. And Rob Hennigan greatly values having some veterans in the locker room to help mentor the young players. That is part of the plan in rebuilding the Magic. I do not believe they would have traded both Afflalo and Nelson this year.
Unless a deal netted them exactly what they wanted that would truly help the rebuild of the team, they were not going to pull it.
Again, that kind of patience and commitment to the principles that are behind building this team should not be overlooked. Not completely anyway. There was no killer deal to make, that much was clear and so a little patience is probably what the team needed.
It is still very difficult to see what the final picture of this massive puzzle will look like at the end. Some of the bigger pieces are not in place yet. What remains important for the Magic is that they maintain flexibility with their roster with the ability to move quickly when the right deal comes along.
The fact the Magic were not necessarily thinking about winning this year certainly helped keep them patient. The pressure to win just was not there. That might change next season as the team enters Year Three after Dwight Howard. Patience will grow shorter if the losses pile up again.
For now, the Magic appear to be on track and have not made any crippling mistakes that would seriously jeopardize their future. They are right where they want to be entering this Draft.