Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag: At the crossroads

The Orlando Magic returned home from a road trip with some more questions about how to progress with so many injuries. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic returned home from a road trip with some more questions about how to progress with so many injuries. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

There was always the chance the Orlando Magic’s season would turn out this way.

Even if all the pieces were healthy and playing, the margin for error for the Magic remained razor thin even with a fully healthy roster. It always felt like the team was potentially on the verge of falling off the cliff. Everything needed to be perfectly in place.

That only became moreso when Jonathan Isaac went out with an injury inside the bubble. It doubled in difficulty when Markelle Fultz tore his ACL too.

Things probably would not be so bad for the Magic if they did not see recurring injuries to Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon — and then to other fill-in starters like Michael Carter-Williams and James Ennis. It has not been good and the Magic have faced the most games lost due to injury this season.

Still, even with that, it is still a bit shocking to see the Magic down at the bottom of the standings.

The team enters the All-Star Break with the fourth-worst record in the league. And, no matter which rating system you want to believe, the Magic will face one of the most difficult schedules in the second half of the season. Orlando will not be able to rely on a soft schedule to go on a playoff run as the team did the last two seasons.

The playoffs are not completely gone — the Orlando Magic trail the Indiana Pacers for 10th and the final play-in spot in the East by just 3.5 games. But the schedule will be tough and the odds are indeed long.

The Orlando Magic will face some big questions this offseason as they try to recover from this injury-filled year. Those questions begin now at the trade deadline. And the Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag is open for me to answer your questions before then.

The front office should not be thinking “saving” this season. As the trade deadline approaches the team should be thinking about what comes next for this franchise and building out what this team will be in the next five years rather than the next year.

And that is the crossroads the team is clearly at.

The Magic could stay invested in this group and give them another try to take that next step. But that will come at the cost of another long-term contract for Fournier, further boxing the team in and likely taking them into the luxury tax. That feels untenable.

Or the team could begin its long-awaited reset. They could begin transitioning to a team with Fultz and Isaac at the head alongside the draft pick they will have “earned” from this disappointing season.

The beginnings of this transformation and what comes next for the Magic will occur at the trade deadline. The team will have some big decisions to make and the cover of a lost season is an opportunity to begin changing the franchise.

If the Magic hit their ceiling last year after their playoff breakthrough in 2019, this season feels something like the end of the road. A chance for the team to change its path a bit and reshape its future.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

That seems like the team’s working order. And the pressure is very clearly on Jeff Weltman to deliver. For sure, the team cannot take another year at the bottom of the Lottery. The Magic will demand the team — with the draft pick they will add — take the step back into the playoff picture next season.

If not, the pressure will really ramp up.

There are plenty of questions to go around in the meantime as the team prepares for the rest of the season, the trade deadline and for the future beyond.

We were not able to dive into the Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag back at the beginning of the season. Back then, we were pondering how the Magic would answer new questions about the team’s future with the same cast and crew.

A lot has changed since then.

At this important point in the Magic’s trajectory, let’s open the Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag once again.

Submit your questions to me on Twitter @omagicdaily, in the comments below or by e-mail at omagicdaily@gmail.com.

Next. 3 observations from the first half of the Orlando Magic's season. dark

I look forward to answering your questions and will have the answers out before the trade deadline on March 25!