Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag Volume 41: Glimpses into the future

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Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic are eager to huddle up again and get back to work. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic season may have been lost a long time ago. The decisions the Magic are having to make in the coming weeks might have been inevitable anyway. The team is certainly at the crossroads and staring down its future and needing to make it.

The team has seemingly wound its course with this group. The team finally reached the playoffs with a fairly young roster, only for that youth to get taken away thanks to injury, leaving a team that is a husk of what it should or could be.

And this might have been a fair way to describe last season with Jonathan Isaac missing most of the season with a knee injury. Only then for him to tear his ACL when the season resumed inside the bubble at Disney.

It is fair to ask what is the potential of this team without Isaac. And then Markelle Fultz, another pillar of the franchise’s future, going down with a similar torn ACL gutted the franchise even further. The team’s future is on the shelf and on pause.

Nikola Vucevic’s emergence as an All-Star has been a nice story. But the team, already down two starters, has faced injuries to every other starter on the roster — including fill-in starter James Ennis! There is no way for this team to function properly in this instance.

The team’s record has been predictable in that sense. The team is still fighting. But it is hard to see them overcoming all these circumstances.

The Orlando Magic face several big questions as the trade deadline approaches. And we are going to answer a few of them in our regular mailbag.

But this season is not the important one. It never was, especially when Isaac and Fultz went out.

Even with them in there, while the team certainly would have liked to see the Magic push their way toward the top half of the Eastern Conference, this year was always about the future.

This season was always going to be about beginning the transition from the era led by Rob Hennigan’s holdovers and Jeff Weltman putting his true imprint on this season beyond the infrastructure and coaching he built.

With Evan Fournier’s expiring contract and the contracts for Aaron Gordon and, to some extent, Nikola Vucevic winding down, the team would have the chance to begin shaping the team the way they want to see it develop and grow into the future.

Even with how poor this season has turned out, the team can still do that. The difference now is they likely are adding a high draft pick to the equation.

The clear vision now then is that this team will build around Isaac, Fultz and that draft pick. Vucevic’s All-Star turn likely makes him a part of the short-term future as a stabilizer while those players grow and develop into the team’s future stars. Everything else is up in the air.

That does not mean the path is not fraught with peril. The Magic have to be smart with the moves they make and intentional with the players they acquire.

Orlando is spending its time trying to reset its floor and make sure the team is back in playoff contention next year to regain the track they lost because of injury.

That path starts this year with the trade deadline and going into the offseason.

With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the future is going to be in focus. It is the only thing that matters. So it is time to open up the Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag and see what is on your mind as this important date approaches.