Orlando Magic Trade Targets: Aaron Gordon Trade Scenarios

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Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Aaron Gordon
Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris has become a natural match for the Orlando Magic in a trade. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Potential suitors and returns

The Orlando Magic are not completely handcuffed. The NBA will always offer gambles to be made on the open market, depending on your appetite for risk.

And with few free agents this offseason, the trade market appears to be the best way for any team to improve. The Magic still hold a lot of power. They do not have to trade Gordon. He has two years remaining on his deal and the team still wants to remain competitive.

But they still have to survey the market once again.

This is why we will present the potential scenarios in order of the risk profile Jeff Weltman, John Hammond and the organization would be willing to incur in the deal. A good measure of the probability of the deal coming to fruition.

Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris and Keita Bates-Diop

The deal makes more sense on paper than in practice, but it has some real potential for both sides.

Gary Harris’ deal (two years, $39.6 million remaining) is backloaded to be slightly more expensive than Gordon’s during the next two seasons. The Denver Nuggets could be interested in shedding this salary before Jamal Murray’s extension kicks in.

The Magic have room to incur the cost, but would probably demand a sweetener for the expense.

Denver made an unexpected run to the Western Conference Finals, and the rest of the league realized what the Nuggets had already sensed internally: this young core is ready to take the next leap.

Harris has become semi-expendable since the start of the 2020 season. His usage has dropped significantly since Jamal Murray has blossomed into an All-Star-level guard and took over as the Nuggets’ main outside threat.

With this drop, Harris’ offensive efficiency has also fallen off. He made 34-percent of his 3-point attempts the last two seasons, after shooting 42-percent and 40-percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Michael Porter Jr. and Monte Moris could fill his 32 minutes per-game rather seamlessly, and provide more of the offensive firepower Denver will need to contend with the league’s best. Both proved that they’re ready for a bigger role during the Nuggets postseason run.

Denver coach Mike Malone would argue the deal does not make sense defensively. Harris was one of the team’s best defensive answers in the regular season and postseason on the perimeter.

Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets /

Denver Nuggets

Gordon is not a capable enough defensive presence to anchor a hypothetical Nuggets starting lineup. The Nuggets could go large with Porter Jr., Gordon, and Nikola Jokic to start, assuming they do not bring back Paul Millsap, who is a free agent this offseason.

Acquiring Gordon would essentially be in hopes of upgrading a bit over Millsap with athleticism. But the Nuggets also have a non-shooter in Jerami Grant who had a breakout year too. Grant is also a free agent. So Gordon fits a type of athletic, defensive-minded forwards the Nuggets like to add to their rotation.

Orlando could point to the fact that Denver’s identity is not predicated on defense entirely. Going on all in an offense could be a way for the Nuggets to zag in a league that’s zigging.

To this point, Nuggets fans have at least some interest in a Gordon-for-Harris deal. Aaron Gordon is very much a player Nuggets followers are thinking about.

And why would the Magic give up on Gordon for a shooting guard that is ostensibly on the decline?

Simply put, Harris is the perfect mold for a Steve Clifford defensive system.

He has become one of the league’s better on-ball and off-ball defensive guards and would thrive in Clifford’s system roving in the halfcourt creating live-ball turnovers. Harris’ steal percentage has been among the league’s best for his position ever since he entered the league.

On offense, why couldn’t Harris rediscover his outside shot in an expanded role? Terrence Ross experienced a similar decline in his outside shooting during his transition from the Toronto Raptors to the Orlando Magic before correcting his accuracy last season.

Keita Bates-Diop could be a nice pick-up to fill in for Isaac during the 2021 campaign. At 24 years old, he is significantly older than most third-year players.

But his potential is completely untapped, similar to Mohamed Bamba’s. This season could be a test run for the Magic to see if Bates-Diop has the chops make an impact at the NBA level.