No. 5 — Cleveland Cavaliers
Teams that are at the bottom of the standings are the ones that clearly need Draft picks and high draft picks at that. While the Cleveland Cavaliers still have Kevin Love and Andre Drummond and at least talk like they want to compete for a playoff spot, it is not likely. Not unless their strange backcourt of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton coalesces quicker than expected.
After a nine-month layoff since their last competitive game, that does not feel super likely to happen.
The Cavaliers should use this pick on a forward like Patrick Williams, Isaac Okoro or Deni Avdija. This team is too far away from anything competitive to give up on draft picks. And the Orlando Magic do not have anything meaningful to make a deal and get them off the fifth pick.
No. 6 — Atlanta Hawks
Potential Targets: Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, Tyrese Haliburton, Devin Vassell
The Atlanta Hawks are still a rebuilding team but in a much different position. They have their star in place in Trae Young. And, especially with the Orlando Magic in a position that looks weak with Jonathan Isaac out, they likely see this as an opportunity to climb into the Playoffs permanently.
Atlanta has reason to believe that with the team playing well after John Collins completed his suspension and Clint Capela set to join the team after last year’s deadline deal that it can make the climb up.
The Hawks are open to trading this pick for a veteran that can get them over the top.
This is what makes a deal with the Magic so tough. Orlando probably has a player who can help get Atlanta over the top in Evan Fournier — another, more seasoned wing shooter would boost that team.
There are two issues here though.
First, the Hawks have enough cap room to sign Fournier outright. They would not need to give up anything to sign him if he opts out of his contract. There would be no reason to acquire him if they did not intend to sign him.
Second, why would the Magic help perhaps their chief competition for the 8-seed and entrench them in the playoffs. Dealing with the Hawks right now is probably something of a non-starter for this reason.
No.7 Pick — Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons might be in worse shape than any other team on this list so far.
Blake Griffin is a star player when he is healthy but he has struggled with injuries for several years now. And the Pistons simply do not have many other viable options on their roster. In fact, the Pistons’ cap sheet is almost a completely blank slate.
What do the Orlando Magic have to offer that would be meaningful for the Detroit Pistons to give up the seventh pick? Probably nothing of substance unless they want to help them get off Blake Griffin’s contract. And that would not involve the seventh pick anyway. They need to use and hit on this pick.
No. 8 Pick — New York Knicks
Potential Targets: Devin Vassell, Aaron Nesmith, Tyrese Haliburton, R.J. Hampton, Tyrese Maxey, Kira Lewis
The Orlando Magic got connected to the New York Knicks over their seemingly perpetual interest in Dennis Smith Jr. But the reality is there is not much there for a deal.
At least not in terms of the Magic moving up to the eighth pick.
New York’s cap sheet is fairly clear. Unless the Magic really want Wayne Ellington or Julius Randle or a second draft selection like Dennis Smith Jr. or Kevin Knox.
But the Magic would be giving up a lot to move up to No. 8 and getting back very little. None of those players move the needle much for the Magic unless they believe who they get at No. 8 will be more impactful than what they are giving up.
Considering the Knicks are also trying to keep their cap sheets clean — and have the cap room to absorb an imbalanced trade — they may only bite on Evan Fournier. It just does not feel like the greatest deal, but the avenue is there.