Lessons and planning
But the Orlando Magic’s chart should reveal that they do not have much dead weight. They do not have the same problem as the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Aaron Gordon being $9.2 million worse than his market value is the biggest albatross around the team’s neck. But even then, the Magic can point to ways Gordon has helped the team. And they can bank — or sell — his expected bounceback.
Indeed, right now it appears Gordon’s trade market, as Zach Lowe of ESPN describes it, is “murky.” Gordon still has a lot to prove.
Gordon is still 25 years old. And with a front-loaded and declining contract, there is still a chance to extract some value for him. Whether that is the big swing trade that propels the team forward? That is a bigger question.
Everyone talks about the Minnesota Timberwolves acquiring D’Angelo Russell as a coup for them. They cemented a solid core to build around with Karl-Anthony Towns. But they gave up a lot to get him — Andrew Wiggins’ contract, yes, but also a protected 2021 first-round pick.
That is the kind of deal that now puts pressure on the Timberwolves to be good quickly or else they lose a valuable first-round pick to continue improving the team.
That is the kind of gamble the Magic are likely staring down.
They do not have players who underperformed that simply are not helping the team in any way. And this is a good thing. It suggests the Magic can make the kind of moves they need to improve.
But not seeing that improvement or seeing players continue to progress and improve is ultimately what could sink the Magic.
That chart is not a favorable one for the Magic. Orlando is playing well enough to compete, but not well enough to climb into true contention. And staring down that value chart, it looks difficult to see the team extracting the correct market value in a trade.
A step back seems like the only way forward — unless the team makes a big trade for a young prospect and expend draft capital to do so.
The next move for the Magic and how they position these bigger salaries is going to determine a lot of this rebuild project for Jeff Weltman and his team.
Another thing is clear though.
Orlando needs to find a galvanizing star truly to take the leap to the next grouping of teams. But the team needs to continue finding players who can contribute and play if not above their station then at least even with it (or perhaps slightly below, at least in terms of this formula).
Collecting larger salaries is not necessarily hampering this team then. That the Magic hope can eventually be their advantage.
But the bottom line is, the Magic need the players they have to play better and show promise to make the kind of moves that could put the team over the top.