An investigation into who voted for Orlando Magic’s Jeff Weltman as executive of the year

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Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers, Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Joel Embiid proved a difficult guy to stop in the block as the Philadelphia 76ers outlasted the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers

At a certain point, when someone takes advantage of you so much, you have to give them some respect. After the Philadelphia 76ers made Rob Hennigan look silly with the Elfrid Payton trade on draft night, the Orlando Magic have returned the favor in consecutive seasons.

Last year, the Magic acquired Markelle Fultz from the 76ers as a reclamation project, giving up only Jonathon Simmons, who is now out of the league although he participated in the Golden State Warriors’ Bubble Camp, and a second-round pick.

Both Fultz and the 76ers needed a separation. The relationship had clearly frayed and he needed a fresh start in a low-pressure Orlando.

He got that and thrived with the Magic, jumping into the starting lineup within five games and never really letting go. As Jeff Weltman said after the season ended, the hope is that now we can focus on Fultz’s improvements as a player and not in terms of his injury.

That reclamation project on its own is likely why Weltman got respect. The seeds he planted with last year’s trade came to fruition and Fultz was one of the best stories in the league as he tries to reclaim his career.

Weltman, of course, came back and stole from the 76ers again. He acquired James Ennis, who was struggling to get minutes with the 76ers, and was able to insert him into the Magic’s injury-riddled lineup. That gave Orlando the stability to get through the rest of the season.

These were not huge moves, but they are the kind of peripheral moves GMs need to make to get their team better. And the Fultz move from last year was a low-risk gamble that already feels like it has paid off.