Orlando Magic Trade Deadline: Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets look like early trade partners

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Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic will have Evan Fournier in their back pocket as they enter free agency. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are another team that has started slower than many expected. Nikola Jokic is establishing himself as a serious MVP candidate but Jamal Murray has been inconsistent and Will Barton and Paul Millsap’s scoring have both dipped this year.

The Nuggets made the Conference Finals last season and will want to build on this success, especially given just how well Jokic is playing. They could certainly do with adding and improving to the players around Jokic and Murray if they are to at least match last year’s postseason performance and the Magic have the players to help them do just that.

An obvious candidate that could help Denver is Aaron Gordon. The power forward would be an upgrade on Millsap at the four spot, given the level of defense he was playing before his current injury. Gordon is shooting an improved 36.9 percent from behind the arc and would thrive cutting to the basket off Jokic’s outstanding passing.

But would it be worth it for the Magic?

Sending Gordon to Denver would mean Orlando having to take one of Gary Harris or Will Barton back in return to match contracts. Harris earns slightly more than Gordon but Barton would require the Nuggets to send other assets back too.

While neither of these players would be particularly exciting additions or be able to do what Aaron Gordon does, it does present an opportunity for Orlando to build more around Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, who the front office has committed to as the future of the team.

Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets /

Denver Nuggets

Let’s say Denver is willing to use Barton as the main part of the deal. The Magic could then try and acquire someone like R.J. Hampton, a young and exciting guard with tremendous pace and explosiveness who has started to make his mark in the league in recent games.

They could even try for Bol Bol, who has shown glimpses of being a real offensive talent but still has a ton of development to do having scarcely been used this season. There is also the potential to acquire picks, even if they would fall low in the first round.

Another player that could benefit Denver is Evan Fournier, who played for the franchise at the start of his career.

Fournier has struggled with injuries this year and while his three-point percentage has taken a slight dip, he still offers a big threat from the perimeter. Fournier’s contract expires at the end of this season so Orlando could move him on to try and at least get something back before his possible exit.

If Fournier does leave, the team will not be receiving immediate equal value in return given Fournier’s ability to shoot the ball. Denver would also be unlikely to want to give up a prospect for a player out of contract so soon.

The Magic could take Gary Harris back in return to at least fill a wing spot for next season. But his career has dipped since a solid 2017 and he has not shown any signs of getting back to that level. They could also try for Will Barton, who like Harris would free up salary space next season for Denver given that he has a player option.

But from Orlando’s perspective, the front office would have to feel confident that either player would complement what the team already has.