Khem Birch can help Orlando Magic strike a better deal

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Khem Birch, Orlando Magic
Khem Birch has been more willing to shoot and attack offensively, giving the Orlando Magic another offensive weapon. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

Basketball is often a game of fine margins. An offensive rebound won through traffic, a blocked shot, a tip-in from a missed attempt. These are the little things that can prove to be the difference between winning and losing.

This is why having players like Khem Birch on the roster is so crucial.

On the face of it, Birch’s limited offensive skillset and low production suggest he is nothing more than an end-of-rotation center. The 28-year-old is averaging 5.5 points per game off 47.2 percent shooting and is grabbing 5.3 rebounds across 20 minutes per game.

Hardly spectacular.

But watch him in action and the importance of the role he plays is clear to see. Birch plays with tremendous hustle and energy, putting his body on the line for the team and contributing significantly on the defensive end.

Birch is the type of player who can make all the difference on those margins for a winning team. He offers added rim protection, solid defense and he consistently crashes the boards offensively. He is currently averaging a career-high 2.5 offensive rebounds per game and is even showing signs of expanding his offensive game, shooting further away from the basket including from three-point range.

Birch is one of the best screeners in the league and is low usage rate shows he can make an impact without taking any shots or doing much with the ball in his hands.

Many of the teams looking to contend for the title could use someone like Birch off the bench. He is a really solid role player who helps better players around him to thrive. And with the center out of contract with Orlando at the end of this season, it would make sense for the Magic to try and extract some value from the big man before he enters free agency.

The Orlando Magic will have a lot to weigh as the trade deadline approaches. They will likely have to consider moving Khem Birch as a sweetener to help a winning team add that last piece.

Trading Birch and his $3-million per year salary on its own does not make a lot of sense. But with rumors around the futures of Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon swirling, adding the center to a deal could help the Magic get closer to what they are looking for.

This upcoming trade deadline is a big one for Orlando. With contracts of key players running down and the front office already committed to Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, there is a change coming.

The Magic should be aggressive and doing nothing is simply not an option.

Birch has made a fine contribution to the team this season despite the team’s woeful record. But with his contract running out and coach Steve Clifford seemingly (and finally) wanting to see what Mohamed Bamba can do in his third season in the league, Birch has become a lot more moveable.

Packaging him with Fournier or Gordon could help the Magic strike a better deal, particularly with a team hopeful of making the playoffs or for contending for a title. Here are three hypothetical examples where Birch could play a key part in the trade.