Orlando Magic Offseason Overview: Orlando Magic likely sellers on open trade market

The Orlando Magic will be among the many teams that will face difficult decisions this offseason in a tight free-agent market. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic will be among the many teams that will face difficult decisions this offseason in a tight free-agent market. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic will need a clear vision as they prepare this offseason. A tight free-agent market should open up the trade doors throughout the league.

Everyone was waiting for the summer of 2019.

The four-year contracts everyone handed out in the big summer of 2015 were expiring. The windfall of money that led to the spending spree following the cap spike that came with the league’s new TV deal.

It was the kind of summer that teams cleared room to bolster their teams with max free agents. The summer of 2021 is like this too with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo headlining a major free-agent class.

So what of the offseason of 2020? What is in store with everyone saving money for 2021 or spending money in 2019?

Not much.

This free-agent market is going to be a tight one. Few teams will have the cap room to spend and the top free agent might well be DeMar DeRozan or Evan Fournier (both on player options). That is not super enticing obviously.

The number of teams who would be able to sign a player like Fournier if he opted out is also small. Only five or six teams are projected to have significant cap room. And none of them — the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons are among them — are poised to contend any time soon.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Fournier is expected to opt-in to say the least with this tight market.

It is still an offseason, of course. Teams have to adjust and change. They have to improve their team in some way. And with few free agents available, the uncertainty of incoming revenue because of the pandemic and a relatively tight market, teams are going to turn to the trade market to get things done.

This offseason might not be earth-shattering like the previous offseason, but everyone is still going to try to get things done. Teams cannot stand still. And so teams will make decisions to improve.

The Orlando Magic are among the teams that will not have much cap room. Even if Fournier opts out, the Magic would have minimal room under the cap. The team will essentially only have the nontaxpayer mid-level exception (a contract starting at roughly $9 million) to spend this offseason.

And again, there are not a lot of free agents. That is why the Magic have to be keenly focused on trades and getting the draft right too. It is important they make the right moves to set themselves up for their future.

A tight market means more trades

The one thing the NBA is during the offseason is never boring.

The league is not going to sit still. No one is going to be satisfied with falling short. And teams that have reached their limits are going to explore ways to move forward or start over. Things change in the league very quickly.

And trade opportunities develop quickly. Things are constantly changing in the NBA even when it seems like they are standing still.

Without access to free agents, teams might be more likely to try out different things in the trade market. They might be more willing to open up and deal to make that change with few options to improve. Teams will make compromises on their future or push their chips into the center.

The Magic are probably more in the rebuilding group.

They are looking for a way to move forward, but that might include starting over somewhat. The idea of something like a soft reset where the Magic trade one of their big-name players to clear their salary sheet.

Of course, the Magic could easily push their chips in too. They could make their all-in move and try to get a star to tie everything together, expending a lot of their trade assets to try to make something of the 2021 season.

Whether the Magic can pull this off is certainly a question.

Orlando has some big salaries it could look to move — Aaron Gordon has two years left on his deal now, Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross have three and Evan Fournier will be in the last year of his contract if he picks up his player option. The team has quality players that it could look to trade.

But the question is whether the team would invest those players and future assets for a star in a year without their own key player in Jonathan Isaac. The Magic certainly should be sniffing for this opportunity.

It is not entirely clear who will be on the market or what the Magic can get.

The big teams are surely already starting to sniff around Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid and CJ McCollum even if those players are ultimately not available. Someone like Victor Oladipo, who has not committed to staying in Indiana past his contract expiration in 2021, could be someone who gets moved.

The playoffs themselves and how teams shape and shift based on the results of the postseason will play a role in who becomes available and what teams look for.

More than likely, the Magic are not going to be buyers in this market. Not unless they want to make an extreme mortgage on their future. More than likely teams see their top players — such as Nikola Vucevic or Aaron Gordon — as secondary pieces to a title team.

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It would seem the Magic’s best position might be to trade one of those big players either for a higher draft pick, a young player or simply to clear cap room. That would create the necessary flexibility while maintaining young, talented players to compete down the road.

The Magic trying to balance their desire to remain competitive and shift the team’s balance will be tricky. But that will be behind everything they do this offseason.

The trade market will be their primary means of improving their roster. And they are going to have to explore everything it might offer.

Draft Night Decisions

The tight market will make draft night interesting too. Draft picks will probably be available as ever too.

On top of all this, the 2020 NBA Draft is not considered a particularly strong one.  Even at this juncture, there is no clear-cut top overall pick — LaMelo Ball seems like he is nearing a consensus as the top talent in the Draft, but the Minnesota Timberwolves could go with swing forward Anthony Edwards or center James Wiseman just as easily.

While there seems to be a clear top-three or four players, none of those players are considered runaway superstars.

The Timberwolves are reportedly interested in trading the top overall pick if the right pick comes along. They have two young players in Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell who are set to enter their primes. The Timberwolves are still building their foundation (as they have for the last decade, it seems) but they may look to accelerate their timeline.

Their pick may not be the only top pick that is available.

Already the Golden State Warriors at No. 2 seem poised to move, trying to entice a team to give up a veteran that can help the team win now rather than wait out a rookie who might  not be able to contribute right away.

It has been easy for Magic fans even to imagine trading Aaron Gordon or Nikola Vucevic into the Warriors’ $17-million trade exception (another major tool the Warriors have this offseason) and acquiring the second pick to have their pick of young players in this roster.

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Mock trade proposal has P.J. Washington situation ending for Hornets
Mock trade proposal has P.J. Washington situation ending for Hornets /

Swarm and Sting

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  • Grade the trade: Wizards buy low on a potential defensive star in a proposed dealWiz of Awes
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  • 4 radioactive free agents the Cavaliers could sign at a discountKing James Gospel
  • Bleacher Report misses mark with nonsensical Dallas Mavericks trade ideasThe Smoking Cuban
  • With the 2021 season already looking like something of a wash with Jonathan Isaac publicly out for the season already, the Magic could look to trade up in the draft to perform a soft reset and add some new players into the mix and get younger in the process.

    Clear Goals

    But the one thing the Orlando Magic should know is what their goals are for this offseason. Is it to get that star and set the table for who their team will be in 2021? Is it to clear their salary sheets a bit and try to find good young players in exchange for the veteran players they are preparing to move?

    The Magic’s main overarching goal for the 2021 season with Jonathan Isaac out is to move the team closer to the group that Jeff Weltman envisions for his team. He doubled down on a successful playoff team, maintaining assets to put himself and the team in a position to go down multiple paths.

    This past season put the Magic in a tricky spot. They surely hoped they would advance up the Eastern Conference standings and position themselves as a team on the rise so they could become buyers in the market rather than sellers.

    Their stagnation changed some of their plans and their possibilities this offseason. As did Isaac’s injury. That certainly decreases the potential this team has. It will force the Magic into some difficult decisions as they plan their future.

    Orlando very well could try to stand pat and hold the ship steady one more year, working on the margins.

    But this trade market will be ripe for movement if the Magic find the deal they like. There will be an opportunity to make the kind of changes the team needs.

    Next. Orlando Magic face daunting future without Jonathan Isaac. dark

    The reality though is that what is out there for the Magic to do is not likely apparent yet.