5 questions the Orlando Magic face in the second quarter of the 2021 season

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Gary Clark, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets
Gary Clark and the Orlando Magic crumbled and left their identity behind in a frustrating finish Sunday. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

What is the Orlando Magic’s point of pain?

But ultimately what every Orlando Magic fan is talking about when it comes to this team is the future.

The team’s most important developmental players in Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz are on the shelf with torn ACLs. They are done for the year and the team will need to wait for them to return to full health. Even next season will be spent getting them back to full speed.

The team is heading for a transition one way or the other.

By the standings, the Magic are still very much in the playoff race. The team (rightfully) is not giving up on that goal and is pushing to play better and stay in the race. It is still early in the season and there is still time to get everything right.

Everything just has to click into place.

That is not looking good. There are few signs — other than the Magic’s history under Steve Clifford — the team is going to get things right. And, yes, that yet-unreleased second-half schedule figures to be a bear.

The Magic might well make the decision organizationally that it is time to reset the team a bit. Aaron Gordon’s now reportedly monthlong absence after spraining his ankle very well might tip the Magic over the edge.

For now, Orlando is certainly still going to push to win and to try to compete for the playoffs. That goal is still too close to give up on. It would not make sense to do anything drastic without a thought of winning involved in it.

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But there comes a point of pain where the incentives a team faces shift. There comes a point when the team’s goals change from going all out to win to starting to set up the team’s future.

There is not much the Magic can do to their rotation to fit this. Cole Anthony is already playing major minutes and his role will surely increase with Aaron Gordon out. Chuma Okeke is set to return from his injury soon and he should retain a spot in the rotation.

About the only thing the Magic can do is play Mohamed Bamba over Khem Birch. That point where the Magic should do this is coming soon. But while the team is trying to win Birch is probably the better option. That shift is coming down the chain.

The real change that might happen when the Magic pass the point of pain is what they look for in the trade market.

Falling too far out of the playoff race will almost assuredly mean the team will trade Evan Fournier before his contract expires. It might change what kind of deals the Magic are willing to accept on other players.

Already, and especially after Gordon’s injury, the sharks are starting to circle the Magic. There are plenty of teams trying to predict a Magic firesale and seeing if they could get some of the team’s veterans on the cheap.

Orlando probably is not going that far. The team most likely views this season as an injury anomaly. The Magic most likely feel they can make some shifts to the roster to promote younger players into bigger roles but can return to the playoff picture next year with added depth and a high draft pick.

Next. Orlando Magic breaking at the seams. dark

The point of pain is quickly approaching. And that is quickly becoming the all-consuming storyline for the next month.