Orlando Magic Trade Value Column 2021

Evan Fournier is likely heading out of Orlando after seven seasons with the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Evan Fournier is likely heading out of Orlando after seven seasons with the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Orlando Magic, Khem Birch
Khem Birch remains a reliable option for the Orlando Magic off the bench. But his game has seemingly hit its limits. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Category II — Let me think about it

14. Al-Farouq Aminu (2 years, $19.9 million, Player Option on 2022)

Last Year: 12

Al-Farouq Aminu is still a NBA player. His defense and veteran leadership were the two reasons the Orlando Magic brought him two years ago and what will keep him hanging around the league.

Even as Aminu has struggled with injury, his defense has remained solid. According to Basketball Index, in the top-five percentile in steals per 75 possessions and deflections per 75 possessions and near the top-10 percentile in D-LEBRON Box and in the 75th-percentile in Defensive Box Plus-Minus.

Aminu is as good as he has ever been defensively even when it is clear he is a step slow recovering from his injury. But it is also clear he is giving less offensively than in years before. Not that he gave a bunch.

The fit with Orlando was always a bit awkward. And the decision to sign Al-Farouq Aminu is ranking as the worst decision Jeff Weltman has made, especially considering the team had other needs to help build off their playoff team in 2019. It is not a fatal mistake. But expect Aminu to pick up his player option.

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The Magic are trying to rebuild his reputation so he can help the team and perhaps look to move him in the offseason or at the deadline. There he might still have some value based on his name alone. But the Magic would have to add something to get others to take him.

13. James Ennis (1 year, $3.3 million)

Like players like Dwayne Bacon or Michael Carter-Williams, the Orlando Magic have to feel they have gotten a lot out of a fringe rotation player in James Ennis. Jeff Weltman has done well to identify fringe rotation players who can help keep the team afloat and support the players on the Magic’s roster.

The Magic needed someone to complete their starting lineup who would not need the ball in his hands a lot and could hit a 3-point shot. While his 3-pointer was inconsistent last year, coach Steve Clifford promised James Ennis just needed to get more comfortable in the Magic’s system. He did not get much time before the season went on hiatus last year and then he suffered an injury in the bubble and then again to start this season.

Orlando has not seen the best of Ennis even if the team has gotten a lot more than it thought (even if that was not a whole lot to begin with).

Ennis has a reputation around the league as that great “fifth man.” He is reliable as a defender, can create his own shot with simple one- or two-dribble pull-up moves. That is all anyone can ask for.

But his injury right now will make it very difficult to deal him. And it will not be for more than a second-round pick. the same deal the Magic used to acquire him last year.

12. Michael Carter-Williams (2 years, $6.6 million)

Last Year: 8

Michael Carter-Williams reclaiming his career has been one of the best stories in the league. The former Rookie of the Year was seemingly out of the league after failing to live up to expectations and dealing with several nagging injuries. Twice Steve Clifford has seemingly saved his career — using him as a change of pace guard in Charlotte and then again as a defensive monster off the bench in Orlando.

Carter-Williams has done all that and re-established himself as a great bench player and a great pest defensively. The Magic missing Carter-Williams this year has shown that as he got hurt and again failed to play every game this season.

Orlando likes having Carter-Williams. With two other young point guards, the Magic could use a veteran to keep them level and give them guidance. Especially if he can play alongside them.

But like everything else, the injuries have exposed this roster’s weaknesses. Carter-Williams is an inconsistent driver and still a negative shooter. While his defense is very good. The Magic have learned what everyone probably already knew: Carter-Williams is best in small doses.

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His contract is still pretty friendly. But it is hard to imagine getting more than a low-level rotation player or a second-round pick for him.

11. Khem Birch (1 year, $3 million)

Last Year: 11

Khem Birch has had a really strong season, supplanting Mohamed Bamba as the backup center thanks to his consistency defensively and a slowly expanding offensive game. Birch is averaging a career-best 5.4 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.

Birch is a grinder. He is the kind of player who can make any team better because he does not demand the ball, screens well and works to play for others. There is a reason Steve Clifford has always gravitated toward him, even when it has not made sense. And Birch never complains, it seems.

This just is not the kind of team that can maximize Birch. The Magic have too many holes offensively to throw out a player that is such a negative on that end. If he were in a lineup that had several offensive weapons that could soak up the possessions Birch leaves open, his complementary play would work much better.

There are a lot of contending teams who could look at Birch and think of him as a great option to help bolster the bench and play that supporting role.

There just is not much of a market for him. Players like Birch are not that difficult to find. And this is not exactly a player you need to worry about retaining his Bird Rights.

That means Birch is a limited role player who could probably only net the Magic a second-round pick with his expiring contract. Or perhaps Birch is a good player to throw into a deal to make salaries match if needed.

That is Birch’s value on the market even if his value on the court is much greater.