Orlando Magic did not see the conditions to make a big deal at the deadline

Evan Fournier made it past the trade deadline with the Orlando Magic and could be headed toward free agency this summer. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images)
Evan Fournier made it past the trade deadline with the Orlando Magic and could be headed toward free agency this summer. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic let the trade deadline pass without making the big deal to answer any big questions. The conditions to make that trade did not appear.

The Orlando Magic certainly understand the team they have is not good enough to do much more than make a cameo in the playoffs.

They fully understand they lack the shooting and offensive consistency to compete at a high level. They certainly understand that even their vaunted defense is a fight against some of their players’ more natural inclinations and that against elite opponents in the playoffs that may well be exposed again.

And they fully understand they ultimately need a star player to take their next step.

The Magic understand then they have to make a trade — a big trade — in the near future to help this team reach its full potential and get to the next step. As constructed, the Magic do not appear to have enough.

None of that changes even though Orlando let the trade deadline pass with only a minor deal completed — acquiring James Ennis from the Philadelphia 76ers for a second-round pick. They did not shift heaven and earth.

Honestly, how could they?

The season has undoubtedly been disappointing. The team is struggling to hang around the .500 mark and hanging on to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Players have stagnated or regressed. And injuries have taken away at least part of the development the Magic wanted to happen — not having Jonathan Isaac takes away a lot of the gains the Magic could make this season.

But the team was still in the playoff hunt. And whether it is right or wrong, that is valuable to this team. At least part of this team’s goal was to confirm that last year’s playoff appearance was no fluke.

The Magic seem well on their way to doing that.

They certainly still have a bigger picture in mind though. The team was never going to be satisfied with just making the playoffs.

The conditions to make a big deal were never really present. Not if the Magic wanted to accomplish both their goals — to build for the long-term while still competing for the playoffs in the short term.

There was no big fish they could get that would help them climb the playoff ladder. The 76ers are simply too far ahead and the Magic would have to give up too much of their core to get that one big fish.

D’Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins were the only big-contract players that moved at the deadline with multiple years left on their deals that Orlando might have considered.

It was exceedingly rare they were traded for each other at the deadline. A sign of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ desperation to get out of the rut they are in and satisfy their own star in Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Magic did not have any such urgency. The team, despite its struggles, is still competing for the postseason.

And while the team might recognize it is bumping against its ceiling, it knows injuries played a role in that and there is time to make the trades it needs to foster the growth and progress they need to see next.

Evan Fournier was the player the Magic probably most looked to trade. He has a player option for the summer and could become a free agent. With the career year he is having, it was expected that he would opt out and try to cash in with one more long-term contract.

That should still be the case, even with several of the few teams that had cap room entering the summer spending some of it at the trade deadline.

Nobody expects the Magic to retain Evan Fournier. The financial realities of adding another long-term contract to a team topping off as a 7-seed are dire. Fournier seems like the odd man out if and when he hits free agency.

But to trade him at the trade deadline would have required the team bring back a player who could contribute — and probably on the perimeter — to a playoff team. Orlando wants to make the playoffs.

True, the Orlando Magic have a fairly sizable 3.5 games lead on the Chicago Bulls for that final spot. But that could erase fairly quickly. And the Magic, without many shooters, probably could not afford to lose one of their best perimeter players.

It probably was not for lack of trying.

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported the Magic were among the teams to inquire about Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Phoenix Suns held onto him — he just signed a two-year $30-million deal — wanting a bit more. Perhaps they were seeking Aaron Gordon from the Magic and that might have been a non-starter considering the Magic’s lack of depth at power forward with Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu out.

Looking around the league too, expiring contracts simply did not fetch a ton on the market. Certainly not enough for the Magic to remain competitive in the playoff race.

The Cleveland Cavaliers found no takers for Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson. They ended up giving up Brandon Knight and John Henson for Andre Drummond. Drummond’s salary probably complicated that deal a bit more. But teams were not looking to trade quality players for each other.

Typically at the trade deadline, you see more lopsided deals like this. It is more about dumping salary and consolidating players for a final push. Teams are not looking to swap key players.

With the Magic’s playoff goals and concerns about their overall depth and shooting, that likely compressed their market to trade Fournier or any of their other key players. The market just did not present itself for Orlando to make a bigger move.

Instead, the Magic looked to solidify their depth and add another versatile wing to their fold in James Ennis.

Ennis is averaging 5.8 points per game in 15.8 minutes per game for the 76ers. He is shooting a 52.4-percent effective field goal percentage and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. Ennis is a solid but not spectacular shooter who has good athleticism to finish at the basket and is solid defensively.

Ennis at least seems to fit in culturally. The Magic needed more shooting and needed more wing depth so they could move Aaron Gordon full time to power forward. Ennis seems to check that box off and help the team in the short-term.

That is ultimately what the market bore for the team. And ultimately the direction the Magic had to go.

All those big-picture questions still remain. Change still seems on the horizon. What the Magic did at the deadline might help them climb into seventh in the East. But it did not answer those big questions.

Next. Orlando Magic's missing star power evident. dark

Orlando will have to wait until the end of the season to reach them.