Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag Volume 38: While we wait

The Orlando Magic are eager for Nikola Vucevic to make his return to the court. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic are eager for Nikola Vucevic to make his return to the court. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin
Evan Fournier could not get the Orlando Magic offense moving in a loss to the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Fournier Decision

Entering this season, it seemed all but certain that Evan Fournier would opt out of this contract. When he started playing at career-best levels, that seemed even more certain. Especially in a market with few top-level free agents. He at least could opt out and force the Magic to make a decision to keep him or not.

Either way, Evan Fournier likely has one more big contract. And with the season he is having this year — 18.8 points per game and a 56.4-percent effective field goal percentage — Fournier was going to earn one more big contract.

It is not entirely clear the Magic can afford to give him that kind of a contract. The team is flirting with the luxury tax as it is. And the cap is about to come down, putting a bit larger of a pinch on the team’s finances. Fournier might ultimately be the one left out.

Then again, the Magic are so devoid of shooters, that losing Fournier would almost certainly hurt the team long-term. Yes, the Magic are 4-0 without Fournier in the lineup so far this year — including wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. But the question is whether that kind of play is sustainable.

Fournier still has an important part to play for this Magic team. And losing him would cause the Magic to have to reconfigure a lot of things. Not to mention, find some shooting and a starting shooting guard.

But this hiatus has almost certainly changed things on Fournier’s side. With the league likely to see the salary cap dip in an already tight offseason where not many teams have cap room, Fournier might decide to opt into the final year of his contract. The hope then would become he could make back whatever money he can in a more plentiful offseason next year.

Of course, he would have to match this year’s performance to get that contract. The money should still be on Fournier opting out and hitting free agency. And the Magic’s decision — with fewer resources then to replace him — becomes a whole lot more difficult.

I think the Magic will have to let Fournier walk. They cannot pay everyone and there are big pay days ahead for Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz in the summer of 2021. The Magic have to start making decisions and start bringing their young players to the front and into leadership roles.

That probably means Fournier’s time wit the Magic is nearing an end.