The NBA Draft is two weeks away and teams are in full lockdown mode as they investigate every avenue. The Orlando Magic are reportedly looking to move up.
Especially with this largely digital draft process — with no Combine for a giant meeting of the entire NBA power structure or large-scale individual workouts — the Magic have remained quiet. Nobody had a sense of what the team would do.
Speculation has certainly been rampant with the Magic primed it seems for change and a weak top of the Draft with teams who might be willing to move down. Fans have let their imaginations run wild.
All the while, Orlando has remained relatively quiet and nondescript. With only two weeks to go until the Draft, what the Magic are doing or trying to do remains a huge mystery. It feels like fans have to be prepared for every stage of the draft.
That seems even more true now.
In his latest mock draft, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports the Magic are one of the many teams trying to move up into the Lottery.
"League sources say the Magic are attempting to move up into the lottery; if they stay put, though, Maxey could potentially provide lottery value and immediately inject life as an energetic presence and hard-nosed defender. Though Markelle Fultz’s resurgence makes for a nice story, he’s still yet to prove he can reliably shoot the ball. Maxey is further along as a scorer off the dribble, which could push Fultz into his ideal role as a supercharged Shaun Livingston."
With the Magic staying at 15, O’Connor has the Magic taking Kentucky Wildcats guard Tyrese Maxey. But the team is obviously exploring ways to move around.
O’Connor’s assessment of Fultz likely does not match the Magic’s assessment. This has been something that has been a common thought around several draft pundits who are not ready to buy into Fultz completely. Maybe the Magic are not buying completely into him, but for now the Magic are likely treating Fultz as a key player for their rebuild.
This may affect at least who these pundits believe the Magic are chasing after or considering at this point as they consider need.
The Magic, for their part, have only commented briefly on their draft position. They have said publicly that they had built their draft board with the extra time they had from when the draft was supposed to take place in June to the end of their season inside the NBA campus. And that surely means they have explored opportunities to trade up or down.
But Orlando, again, likes to play things close to the vest. In all likelihood, this is a rumor that was created from outside the Magic’s circle.
And this is the disinformation season. Everyone is lying to each other to create movement or put themselves in a better position.
Still, it makes sense for the Magic to pursue a higher draft pick. That would give them a chance at drafting potential shooters like Devin Vassell or Aaron Nesmith or high-value guards like Killian Hayes, Kira Lewis or Tyrese Haliburton or star players who struggled in college like R.J. Hampton (he was in Australia) or Cole Anthony.
The Magic need to focus on trying to acquire a player that fits their long-term vision. And if their guy is there — a player they truly think they can build around — they should go out and acquire him.
That does mean that every player on the roster — outside of Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, Chuma Okeke and likely Mohamed Bamba — is available. The team is likely shopping its veteran players hard.
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The team reportedly shopped Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline before deciding to hold onto him for the playoff chase. But those conversations likely never stopped, expecting to be in a position again to deal him in the offseason.
While there have been plenty of speculation and fan discussion about the Orlando Magic moving up to the second pick with the Golden State Warriors, there will inevitably be other opportunities.
Reporting linked the Orlando Magic as a potential suitor for the New York Knicks’ pick at No. 8, but forming a workable deal there seems overly difficult.
The Atlanta Hawks at No. 9 seems like a possible trade partner. The Hawks reportedly are considering trading out of the Draft and adding a veteran in hopes of making a playoff run this season. It is hard to see the Magic willing to help a chief competitor take their playoff spot.
The Phoenix Suns at No. 10 might be a trade partner for similar reasons. The Suns probably feel they are fairly close to a playoff spot and that they could get someone they like still at No. 15. The teams reportedly were close on a deal swapping Aaron Gordon and Kelly Oubre, adding draft picks could get the Magic over the top on that deal.
After that, the Magic are only moving up a few spots and likely could count on getting the player they want at 15. Maybe moving up to No. 12 with Sacramento is enough to give up Evan Fournier and take on someone like Harrison Barnes with his contract?
The point is, there are possibilities. But also narrow chances and frameworks. There are few teams that it seems like it makes sense to deal with who would want what the Magic are selling.
But this is why you do your due diligence. This is why teams go through every permutation and explore every avenue. And with the extra five months, teams certainly have overthought these things — Matt Lloyd spoke of fearing paralysis by analysis with all the extra time.
But the intrigue has begun. There are two weeks to go before the draft and everyone is looking at everything as things start to play out.