No one should be off limits for a trade that improves the Orlando Magic

Mar 27, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) talks to head coach Frank Vogel against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Magic 131-112. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) talks to head coach Frank Vogel against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Magic 131-112. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2017 season has turned out to be one of the worst years in Orlando Magic history. No player on the roster should be off limits for a potential trade to upgrade the team. 

If we learned anything about the Orlando Magic this season, we learned every player on the roster would not be considered a number one or two option on a championship-level team. No one on the team seemed able to step up into the role the team needed for them. The team simply does not have the talent level needed to compete consistently for a Playoff spot.

As a matter of fact, you can make the argument the Magic have a player who could be the third best player in a championship trio.

While players like Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier have led the team in scoring by putting up some decent numbers on a non-playoff team, the team’s results have fallen well short. It leads the Magic to one conclusion as they try to remake the roster.

Even the longest tenured players should not be off limits in a potential trade for a brighter future for the Magic.

And if Nikola Vucevic is not off limits, you can argue that no one should be. Fans have already seen Aaron Gordon, the team’s most talented player and best young prospect, tossed around in trade discussions on that infamous whiteboard incident.

Orlando’s recent lottery picks have not panned out and delivered them a clear future. The Magic selected Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon as lottery picks to carry this Magic team to the playoffs. Three years in for two of them, it hardly looks like they will be able to get the team to the finish line as primary pieces.

Although the Magic selected Aaron Gordon with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft, he has not developed into a consistent player yet. Gordon still struggles with his shooting but has played better after coach Frank Vogel moved him back to his more natural power forward position.

Gordon has shown some flashes of scoring ability but those spurts are few and far between.

Elfrid Payton has been a disappointment for the majority of his career. Payton is a backup point guard at best on a championship-level team.

This season he proved he can be more aggressively consistent from off the bench rather than a starter. On Dec. 23, Payton came off of the Magic bench and registered 25 points and 9 assists against the Lakers in a 109-90 win. This season, Payton is averaging 12.0 points and 5.6 assists per game in 24 games off the bench this year. That is in line with his 12.9 points and 6.7 assists per game as a starter this year.

Payton’s defensive shortcomings have hurt his team at the most important position in the modern NBA. Although he put up some nice triple-doubles after the playoffs were out of reach, they feel like empty stats at the time.

Mario Hezonja has been the biggest bust out of all three of the remaining lottery picks. He has had problems cracking the rotation on a non-playoff team ever since he arrived. Most lottery picks taken within the top five are starters by the time they get to this point in their career.

Hezonja’s biggest flaw is his defense, although he has slightly improved this year. The Magic selected Hezonja over Devin Booker, Myles Turner and Justise Winslow, players who have carved a clearer niche in the league in their first two years.

These players have not panned out as the Magic expected. And with an uncertain future, the team has to explore all options.

At some point, the excuses have to stop. This Magic team does not have a star on it and they need to cash in on some of these young players to grab a legitimate All-Star caliber player while teams still think these young players have upside.

It does not mean the Magic must trade any of these players. But it does mean the Magic have to be willing to explore every option available to them. They proved they were more than willing to do this in shipping out Victor Oladipo last summer.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

This year’s draft should have several players the Magic can use to kickstart their rebuild again. But the organization has proved that having a draft pick does not necessarily equate a future star, they still need to be wise with the selection. That is something that has eluded the Magic since they lost Dwight Howard.

The biggest problem with the Magic seems to be either player development or the ability to the selects players that will develop into an All-Star.

Although the Magic have not had back-to-back number one overall selections, like they did when they netted Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber in back-to-back years, the team should have been more competitive by year five with a number 2 (Victor Oladipo), 4 (Aaron Gordon), 5 (Mario Hezonja) and 10 (Elfrid Payton) overall selection.

The Magic have had four lottery picks in the last five years and not one has developed into a legitimate star on the NBA level, although they all seem to have some place in the league.

That is why no player on the roster should be off limits to a potential trade. Orlando simply needs to improve its talent base in any way that it can. That means exploring every option.

We have seen the upside from the current players. And, although the organization does not want to let go of a player without seeing what they can potentially become, the fans in Orlando have seen enough.

Next: Frank Vogel stays positive as bleak season ends

The Magic need to be willing to move on from the old and look for a new path forward.