Orlando Magic 2019 Offseason: 5 biggest needs for Orlando Magic, and how to fill them

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 7: Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics on April 7, 2019 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 7: Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics on April 7, 2019 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 30: D.J. Augustin #14 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 30, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Veteran Leadership

In the summer of 1994, the Orlando Magic had just come off their first playoff appearance and gotten swept by the Indiana Pacers in the first round. Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway were young players on the rise missing that something.

That something was experience.

The 1995 team was destined for improvement no matter what driven by the playoff experience they received in the previous year. They got humbled and learned how much work it actually took to win beyond the regular season.

Orlando helped out the 1995 team though. The Magic signed Horace Grant, coming off an All-Star year after helping the Chicago Bulls win three titles in the early 1990s, and the rest is history. Orlando made the playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and reached their first NBA Finals (where their inexperience was again on display).

The Magic in 2019 were a young team. Their average age was less than 30 and only D.J. Augustin was older than 30 in the starting lineup. Really only Augustin was a veteran player and only D.J. Augustin and Terrence Ross had any significant playoff experience.

The Magic made the postseason on grit and momentum. To get back and to make noise, they will need to leverage their experience gained first and foremost. But they may need something else.

Orlando has been to the playoffs now. That experience should supercharge the team and inform them on how to get back even if the team shifts and changes a bit.

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But a big part of the free agent puzzle for the Magic should include finding a veteran presence. It should be someone like Grant was for that 1995 team — able to contribute to the team in a meaningful way without getting in the way of the other key players on the roster.

This could be someone solid like Danny Green, a solid role player who is a deadly shooter and a strong defender, or even Rudy Gay, who could provide good leadership and presence while giving a decent scoring punch off the bench. Even a player like Marc Gasol if the Magic lose out on Nikola Vucevic would boost the team’s presence on the court.

This is not someone who has to take over the team or be the leading scorer. They do not even have to start. It is more about having their presence on the floor and in the locker. Someone who has been through battles and can exude poise to the rest of the team.

Whether the Magic want to admit it or not, they looked a bit flustered during the playoffs. The pressure and increase in physicality got to them. Orlando never adjusted after Toronto threw its first punch.

The Magic will be ready for it. They need someone they can lean on to get them through those big moments.