The Orlando Magic signed Josh Magette as a two-way player to lead the Lakeland Magic. But he is not likely an impact player for the main roster.
The Lakeland Magic were close.
In a single-elimination tournament, they had forced overtime on the road against the Long Island Nets only to see Theo Pinson hit a game-winning shot as time expired to send the Nets to the G-League Finals.
The Orlando Magic shipped up Amile Jefferson, one of the best players in the G-League last year, to try and win that game. Winning at all levels is something the Magic care about. And they are certainly hoping to load up the Lakeland Magic once again for a title run.
The team should have some decent players. Amile Jefferson will be back on a two-way contract. The team will have potential Exhibit 10 contract players in Daquan Jeffries, Vic Law, Hassani Gravett and probably others. Then there are at least a few players returning from last year’s roster.
With Troy Caupain latching on as an Exhibit 10 player with the Portland Trail Blazers, his future with the Lakeland Magic is uncertain. The Orlando Magic at least seem ready to add a high-level point guard to lead the Lakeland Magic in his stead.
Perhaps, too, Josh Magette could be an emergency option for the NBA.
The Magic’s use of their two-way contracts has certainly been puzzling. Then again, the two-way contract is still a massive experiment that nobody really has a good grasp on how to use.
Orlando brought back Jefferson for a second two-way contract even though he did not play any meaningful minutes for the main roster — and probably does not fit their vision for a power forward anyway.
Then they used their second two-way contract this offseason on 29-year-old journeyman point guard Josh Magette.
Magette has been a fixture at Summer League the last several years but has only one 18-game stint in the NBA (with the Atlanta Hawks in 2018) to his name. That was OK, he showed off his shooting prowess and his passing ability. But he obviously did not stick.
Most of his career has been spent in the G-League, where he has put up some strong numbers. Magette averaged 10.1 assists per game for the Erie BayHawks in 2018 and averaged more than 9.0 assists per game in each season from 2016-18.
Magette is an inconsistent outside shooter, but he is a solid game manager and playmaker at the G-League level. That is a good place for him to start.
Last year, he played for Gran Canaria in Spain, averaging 4.8 assists per game in six EuroLeague games. He scored only 2.2 points per game in that competition.
It is safe to say then Magette is not a player the Magic expect to make the roster or make a big impact on the roster. The Orlando Magic have decided to use its two-way contracts as a way to bolster the Lakeland Magic’s roster it appears, hoping to grow players on that roster to maybe one day hit the main roster.
Magette is a high-level G-League player. He is someone who can total a lot of statistics and assists and help a team win and succeed. But his NBA future seems relatively dim.
He does not have a ton of length or defensive ability to speak of. That is not his main skill in the G-League. And it is not something that translates up to the NBA level.
During Summer League with the San Antonio Spurs this year, he averaged only 6.8 points per game and shot 36 percent (9 for 25). He still posted 4.8 assists per game.
Magette can certainly pass the ball and run an offense. But is that really at a high enough level to make an impact beyond then? Could the Magic really use him as an emergency point guard if they face a lot of injury issues?
Maybe that is not what the two-way contract is meant to do. Maybe it really is a workaround the G-League salary structure. A way to ensure the high-level G-League players are compensated differently to help those teams win.
Perhaps the real top G-League prospects — like Jeffries, for instance — prefer to sign Exhibit 10 contracts and take their chances to make a NBA roster in training camp or leave their options open to signing with any team once they hit the G-League. It is better to have all those options open than getting tied to one team.
Magette then is a perfect player for this kind of setup. He is a known quantity in the G-League and can play at a high level. He has led the G-League in assists before and there is at least a half-decent chance he could do so again now that he is back in the G-League.
But will he do much besides that?
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Magette should be a stabilizing presence when he is in practice. Coaches should be able to trust him to run their offense and provide a good look in practice.
But he is not about to displace Michael Carter-Williams or Markelle Fultz in the rotation. It would take an injury to both to get him quality minutes. It is not likely Magette is going to go out there and demand the Magic use that last roster spot on him.
Having said that, Magette under a two-way contract will get the first shot at doing so. The team might like other point guard options — like Exhibit 10 contract signee Gravett — but Magette has the easiest access to the roster.
That did not stop the Magic from pursuing other options last year.
Instead of giving Troy Caupain a shot to play point guard after Isaiah Briscoe‘s injury, the team turned to Michael Carter-Williams. The Magic still have plenty of options outside of the roster and the G-League if they need a point guard.
Magette will have to fight and prove he can take that spot if it is called for. But that still seems unlikely judging by his previous NBA play and his physical profile.
If Magette’s job is to provide some stability in practice when he is with the main roster and lead the Lakeland Magic to a deep playoff run, he is a good candidate to succeed.
If the Magic signed him to make an impact on the main roster, he is probably not the player to do that.
Magette is a fully developed player who has carved out a solid career in places like the G-League. He is a gifted passer and playmaker. But his shot and the other aspects of his game leave him wanting and probably will keep him from making a true NBA impact.