Orlando Magic must carefully study Aaron Gordon’s value this summer

Mar 31, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) dunks the ball during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) dunks the ball during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that the season is finally over, the Orlando Magic can now evaluate the worth some of its core players. After the whiteboard that might include Aaron Gordon

The Orlando Magic are in a familiar situation now that the NBA regular season is over. They are one of the worst teams in the league and in prime position for a lottery pick in the draft.

With the NBA draft coming up in June, the Magic will need to look at all options in order to improve the roster. Even the impossible should be on the table or at least explored and noted moving forward.

One of those options may include at least exploring Aaron Gordon’s value on the trade market. It will take a lot to get Gordon because he is one of the best players on this struggling squad. But the option is not as far-fetched as many may think.

Former general manager Rob Hennigan hinted that may be a possibility after the infamous whiteboard incident. But getting back a role player (albeit a Rookie of the Year frontrunner) like the Philadelphia 76ers’ Dario Saric would have been another huge disappointment during his tenure.

Surely Gordon was worth more. That was the going thought as pretty much everyone thought even entertaining the idea — or writing it down on a whiteboard — was insane.

Gordon has an enormous upside, but he has not figured out his offensive game at the NBA level to have a significant impact to carry a team. There has been a lot of justified criticism about his jumper and offensive consistency. Gordon only shot 28.8 percent from downtown and only averaged 12.7 ppg in 2017. Granted, Gordon played better toward the end of the season when he averaged closer to 16 points per game after the All-Star Break.

Considering this is a contract year for Gordon, the Magic have to be ready to consider all possibilities with him. Gordon will be eligible for a contract extension this summer and will hit restricted free agency next summer if the team does not come to an agreement. Figuring out a price range for Gordon is exceedingly difficult — especially for a new general manager coming in.

As is the case with every player — and the whiteboard really showed — teams are constantly evaluating and valuing their players. Anything can happen when trade negotiations begin.

So what could the Magic get back for a player like Gordon?

If the Magic do explore trading Gordon, or receive an offer for Gordon, they need to get a key player or a potential high draft pick for his services. That is how much the Magic should value Gordon at this point.

The last thing Orlando needs is to repeat last year’s debacle at the draft when they traded Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis for a Serge Ibaka rental. Gordon is worth more than a rental.

That experiment has left the Magic with nothing besides one of the worst seasons in franchise history and a big question mark for the future.

The Magic have to be smarter when considering big moves like these in the future. That means they cannot brazenly throw around their best player in trade negotiations. Not without having a clear picture of his value.

Hopefully, the organization will select a general manager who will invest in Gordon’s potential and surround him with players who complement his skills. That is if the Magic consider Gordon a foundational piece to build a team around.

Gordon has not proved much on the NBA level besides his ability to defend multiple positions. That is key. But in this league, worth is determined by offensive contributions. Gordon has failed to become a consistent scorer on the NBA level. And that puts his future with the team at least somewhat at risk.

But that does not mean Gordon cannot be a trade chip to improve the Magic roster for the 2018 season if the right deal comes along. Oladipo seemed like a surefire bet to stay on the roster before the draft-day deal for Ibaka changed the team’s plans.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Although we have seen flashes of a potential All-Star, pairing Gordon with draft colleague Elfrid Payton these last three years has not helped him fulfill his potential that most scouts and pundits believe he has. Gordon has not defined himself and the roster has often stood in his way of doing so.

This has created mystery about his future.

But Gordon is due for an extension this summer. Similar to the Oladipo trade situation last year when the Magic were debating if Oladipo was worth a max contract. Gordon is not quite at that level. He did not produce on the court at the same level Oladipo did. Gordon is not likely seeking a max extension, barring a huge breakthrough this offseason and next season.

In a perfect world, the Magic would agree on an extension that looks team friendly. That would give the Magic a potential star for the next several years while maintaining cap flexibility to improve the roster moving forward.

To get there and secure his place with the Magic, Gordon has to improve offensively. Gordon is clearly one of the best defenders and a skywalker at the NBA level. That gives him clear value.

And every player’s value has to be assessed fully. Orlando probably will not move Gordon. But they may become ready to do so if he does not take his next leap or sign a team-friendly extension.

Next: Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: Aaron Gordon

This will be a big summer and season for Gordon to make his value apparent.