Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag Volume 41: Glimpses into the future

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LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
LaMelo Ball has emerged as a Rookie of the Year candidate for the surprising Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

From Paul King IV via e-mail

"Why didn’t the Magic make a deal prior to the NBA draft?  The Warriors were shopping the number 2 pick, in which we could have packaged Evan Fournier who has been inconsistent for years, AG has yet to pan out, and Mo Bamba who can’t get on the floor for Wiggins and number 2 pick and draft LaMelo ball.  Wiggins would give you the consistent scorer you need on the first unit to complement Vooch.  LaMelo Ball had star potential all over him to play in backcourt with Fultz. That’s what I would have done if I was GM."

I am not a huge fan of playing the what-if game. The public is not presented with all the facts of what was available. It is easy to let speculation creep in and let that become reality.

The plain fact is: We do not know exactly what was on the table, what is going on behind the scenes or what other considerations are out there for why a team does or does not do something.

The oft-rumored partnership between the Orlando Magic and Golden State Warriors this offseason involving that second pick felt more like connecting dots that were not there.

There was a logic to it, of course. The Warriors’ championship window was open and a rookie probably does not help them as much as a player like Nikola Vucevic might and so a framework for a deal existed. No one denied that.

But it never seemed like the Warriors were interested. James Wiseman is a really talented player and he has looked solid for a rookie this year. Especially after Klay Thompson’s catastrophic injury just days before the NBA Draft, the Warriors were not in a position to give up a chance at this top pick.

Even involving Evan Fournier this offseason. There might have been an opportunity to trade Fournier into the Warriors’ rather large trade exception or to net some other assets. But it seemed like, through the Kelly Oubre trade, the Warriors were only interested in sending out draft picks in that deal.

The framework for a deal was there. But the Magic made it clear it seemed they were not in a mood to sell. They were not interested in acquiring solely draft picks. They wanted players who could help them win and compete for a playoff spot.

That is just part of Jeff Weltman’s philosophy. Weltman believes young teams grow best when they are in positions to win and play meaningful games. Even with Jonathan Isaac’s injury, he was not prepared to “throw away” the season and start selling off pieces.

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The plan here certainly sounds like a nice one. But it is a bit of a pipe dream. It just did not match the Magic’s timeline or their willingness to bet fully on a draft class no one was particularly sold on.

That does not mean it has not surprised. LaMelo Ball has been fantastic. Anthony Edwards is coming along. And the Magic are also pretty happy with how Cole Anthony has played to start his career.

The question facing the Magic today then is: Are they now ready to sell? Will future assets be enough to make them move off veterans? Will this team reset?

Orlando was not prepared to do so during the last offseason. And that is probably why the team was unable to make the kinds of changes fans were anticipating. The market wanted the Magic to sell and they were not going to do so.

That might have changed now considering the team is sinking in the standings, lining up for a top pick in a more-loaded draft class and facing key decisions on players on their roster. Cutting some payroll (as noted previously) might be a goal that allows the Magic to make the kinds of moves to bring in young players and reset the roster a bit.

We will not know what opportunities the Magic passed up. But the one thing that remains important is that the team has a vision for what it wants to become and what it wants to accomplish — both in the short- and long-term. And then effect a plan to execute that vision.

The frustration with how little the team has done is fair. The Magic must begin seeking, taking and creating opportunities now after this disaster of a season.