Inevitability of Aaron Gordon’s position may lead Orlando Magic to deal

The Orlando Magic are planning their future and they should be engaged in discussions on everyone. That leaves Aaron Gordon’s position in flux.

The Orlando Magic are seeking ways to improve. That can be made a whole lot more difficult entering an offseason when a team does not have copious amounts of cap room to spend. The Magic are going to be limited to adding new players through the Draft and trades with only their mid-level exception to spend.

After a season that everyone considers disappointing, with the Magic finishing 33-40 and eighth in the Eastern Conference for another five-game gentlemen’s sweep, the Magic seem ripe for change. Everyone is eager to see this team’s future take shape.

Even if the Magic were likely to finish somewhere near 2019’s 42-40 record if not for the large amount of injuries the team faced, the Magic were not likely making up the seven games separating them from the Philadelphia 76ers as the 7-seed.

The team has seemingly hit its ceiling. And the prospects for even internal improvement pushing the team ahead are not good with Jonathan Isaac likely out for the year. The Magic are poised for a bit of a transition.

And that inevitably means everything is on the table as the Magic look ahead to their future — even if part of their goal is to continue competing in the present.

It was no surprise then to hear the Magic are looking at moving up in this draft. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer in his latest mock draft reported several NBA sources believe the Magic are trying to move up in the Draft by packaging Aaron Gordon with their pick.

League sources say the Magic are attempting to move up into the lottery by packaging this pick with Aaron Gordon.

It has been no secret the Magic have looked into shopping one of their most promising young players. Aaron Gordon’s name popped up at the trade deadline — specifically in connection with a deal with the Phoenix Suns for Kelly Oubre.

It is not clear how close those talks came to fruition. But they were ultimately shelved. Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu’s injury made Aaron Gordon’s presence in the lineup more important. And he started producing around the All-Star Break and trade deadline at the level the Magic were hoping for at the beginning of the season.

There is still optimism about Gordon making an impact even if the star talk quieted down after his struggles in 2020.

Fans though are still a bit lukewarm on the prospect of trading Gordon. Most fans see him as a key young player to continue developing. Even then, without Isaac again in the lineup, the Magic could use Gordon as the starting power forward. This could be his chance to burst out and increase his value.

Most fans see Aaron Gordon as a bigger part of this team’s future than other players like Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. They want to see the team move beyond an older generation of players that represent the most difficult time in franchise history. And it is also clear that Vucevic and Fournier do not fit the long, athletic, versatile vision the team is trying to build.

They may remain necessary to carry the Magic’s fledgling offense. But they also feel fairly expendable as the team plans their future.

As always, every move the Magic makes at this point needs to have purpose and accomplish some long-term goal or fit into the team’s long-term vision.

Gordon is just the biggest name and perhaps the player who is easier to move. It is not that Orlando wants to trade Gordon more than anyone else. He is just the player who holds the most promise and likely the most market value for the kinds of moves the Magic are hoping to make.

At this point, it is safe to assume the Magic are measuring the market for every player on their roster. This is just the rumor that seemed to poke through and get to the media — the Magic are well known for keeping a tight ship, so this certainly did not come from anyone associated with the team.

Everyone around the league seems to recognize that there is an inevitable breaking point between the Magic and Gordon. The team has Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke as young building blocks. Both need a pathway to play. Al-Farouq Aminu’s deal will be tough to trade except as necessary to match salaries.

Gordon is the odd man out. It felt clear even when Isaac was playing as the fit between the two forwards was odd at best. Perhaps they could have gotten one more year to figure it out, but Isaac is out now.

The Magic are coming to a decision and Gordon is one of the biggest chips they have to play.

They clearly believe they can use him to get higher in this Draft and take a player they want. But they should also feel comfortable enough to wait things out if that deal does not present itself. Gordon still has two years left on his deal, there is no deadline pressure to deal him.

Still, that pressure point is coming. The inevitable split seems on the horizon.

It is not clear at this point whether this is the point the Magic will make that deal. They are surely having conversations with teams about just about every player on their roster. They are probably exploring every trade avenue they can find — including with Russell Westbrook.

At this point, there is nothing concrete to tell anyone what the Magic will do. Some of this may pan out. Most of it likely will not.

But the Magic are talking and seeking their path forward. One way or another, the team’s future is going to come. And the inevitable is going to happen.