The Orlando Magic have moved on from starting point guard Elfrid Payton, trading him to the Phoenix Suns for a 2018 second-round pick.
Payton has been playing his best in 2018 with career-highs in points per game (13.0) and effective field goal percentage (54.7 percent). Known most for his unique hairstyle, Payton has been one of Orlando’s most consistent contributors on offense. He can certainly fill up a stat sheet.
Although he has played well, it is clear he was not the point guard of the future. He is limited offensively because of his poor shot and his defensive woes have been a problem since his rookie season. The team has struggled to get over the hump with him as the starting point guard for much of the past four seasons. Orlando’s record was never better than 35-47 with Payton during his rookie year.
The Magic owned Payton’s restricted free agent rights this summer and could have matched any offer he received in free agency. But they may not have wanted to pay him the salary that came with it. The front office saw enough from Payton to realize he was not a long-term option at point guard.
This return may not be what Magic fans hoped for, but it is probably around market value. A high-second round pick for what is likely a backup guard is a solid return.
Payton will also be missed in the local community. His work with local causes made him a fan-favorite. He won the DeVos Community Enrichment Award last year for the first time.
The bigger question for the Magic was whether this was the most they could get for him.
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the New York Knicks and former Orlando Magic assistant general manager Scott Perry wanted Elfrid Payton. But the Magic were insistent on acquiring rookie guard Frank Ntilikina in the deal. Instead, New York moved on and acquired Emmanuel Mudiay from the Denver Nuggets.
They gave up Doug McDermott and a first-round pick in exchange as part of a three-team deal.
Orlando did not make any other moves at the trade deadline. The team was unable to find any takers again for Mario Hezonja as he heads into unrestricted free agency. Bigger contracts like Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic will also have to wait for the summer.
It is unclear if Orlando will bring in a younger option to play the point. With an open roster spot, the Magic can now sign a player to a 10-day contract, if they choose. With the team headed towards a top pick, it is the perfect time to give the youth a chance.
It was a quiet deadline for Orlando. The team is in the middle of another terrible season and many felt that more moves could have been made. The new front office will remain patient and wait for the right deal.