Finding a framework for Orlando Magic to move up in the Draft

Evan Fournier led the Orlando Magic in scoring for a big win over the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Evan Fournier led the Orlando Magic in scoring for a big win over the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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James Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves, Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
Trading for the top pick might mean the Orlando Magic have to acquire a bloated salary like James Johnson’s. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Top Pick

No. 1 — Minnesota Timberwolves

Possible Targets: Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes

A lot of Orlando Magic fans have zeroed in on the Golden State Warriors with the second pick as a potential trade partner because the Warriors picking that high seems out of place. It feels like a spot where they could trade a rookie for a veteran to help them regain their perch in the Western Conference.

Do not worry, we will get to the Warriors.

But the Minnesota Timberwolves with the top pick have expressed some interest in a deal too. And they are in a bit of a trickier spot.

Minnesota pushed some chips into the table to acquire D’Angelo Russell and pair him with Karl-Anthony Towns. Their acquisition of Malik Beasley also seemed to be a smart move, giving them a good third shooter. He is a restricted free agent this offseason and his arrest likely will scare some suitors away.

The Timberwolves traded away their first-round pick for next year with some protections to the Warriors. So Minnesota needs to position itself to win.

Another rookie is not the best thing for that, but it also would not be the worst. In a normal draft, Minnesota would be doing some backflips.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves /

Minnesota Timberwolves

The problem is the Timberwolves do not have a lot to offer teams besides that top pick. Likely any trade involving the top pick would involve James Johnson and his $16 million salary (he has a player option for the 2021 season that he is not likely to decline).

He gave the Timberwolves very little last year and weighed down their books. Attaching him to the first pick is likely their only way out.

His salary matches with Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon’s salary. Either player would be better than anything the Timberwolves currently have. The question for them — and honestly for the Magic — is whether what they get with the top pick would be better or worse.

And that is a bigger question. As always, if the Magic believe someone at the top of this draft is their guy, they should go for him no matter the cost.

Johnson would be a good tough guy to add to the team. He would be an interesting add to the team and if the Magic can reclaim his effectiveness on defense, he could be a nice pair for Nikola Vucevic (along with Al-Farouq Aminu). There are worse big salaries to have to take on (especially since Johnson is expiring).

But the real prize is that top pick. And the Magic would have to ask themselves whether LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards or someone else are truly worth the cost and truly worth building around.

My suspicion is that this might be a price too high and they are not up for the challenge. Then again, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon are probably the players the Magic are shopping around the most.