The Orlando Magic announced Thursday they have waived veteran center Khem Birch.
In doing so, Orlando creates a roster spot and have a sudden need for some front court depth with just Wendell Carter and Mohamed Bamba at center and only Chuma Okeke and the now-injured Otto Porter as natural power forwards available.
Birch will not be an easy man to replace, however. During his 3.5 years with the team, he provided tremendous amounts of energy, hustle and heart. In this past year especially, Birch began to define himself as one of the leaders on the team.
The Magic will certainly miss the big man’s presence. But the move has made way for young players Okeke, Carter and Bamba to consume the majority of the minutes at both the power forward and center positions.
Still, the Magic will need to fill that backup power forward position with the departure. Orlando was leaning heavily on two-big lineups with Birch at power forward as injuries continue to hurt the roster. Not even Gary Harris’ impending return will help relieve this — possibly forcing James Ennis to play some power forward minutes.
The Orlando Magic waived Khem Birch and will have a lot to consider as they fill his roster spot. They should focus on bringing in a veteran who can help guide the team behind the scenes.
The Magic will likely be looking to add another player in free agency after adding guard Devin Cannady to a 10-day contract earlier this week.
The most important thing Orlando should be looking for, rather than just a productive player off the bench, is a veteran presence who can help guide this young team and potentially rejoin the group at the start of next season.
Here are a few players Orlando should consider:
Kyle O’Quinn started his NBA career in Orlando and spent three years with the Orlando Magic before being traded to the New York Knicks in 2015. He has been a backup big throughout his career, but proved over the years that he can be an effective player.
He last played in the NBA in 2020 for the Philadelphia 76ers, where he averaged 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in just more than 10 minutes (his advanced numbers looked even better at 11.7 points and 13.3 rebounds per 36 minutes).
The 31-year-old is now in Turkey playing for Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague. He has played well there too, averaging 5.5 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game in 12 EuroLeague games. He scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds in a loss to FC Barcelona on Friday.
The stats are not the reason O’Quinn would fit this Magic team, however.
O’Quinn has a reputation for being a well-respected, well-liked player and teammate in the league–just this December he had former Magic and Sixers teammate Tobias Harris campaigning for a team to pick him up.
With the departures of Orlando’s veteran core, and now Khem Birch, O’Quinn would be a welcomed veteran presence to an incredibly young Magic locker room. His familiarity with the organization is an added bonus.
Greg Monroe has been out of the league since the 2019 season. But he has recently been campaigning himself in hopes of making a return.
Monroe played center for the majority of his career, so he may not fit exactly what Orlando needs, but he has spent some time at the power forward position.
During his career, Monroe was always a solid rebounder and could help shore up an area the Magic have been desperately struggling with since the departure of Nikola Vucevic.
His most important quality is similar to that of Kyle O’Quinn, though. He is a 30-year-old veteran with nine years of experience who can help guide a young locker room.
If Monroe can play defense and rebound for 12-15 minutes a night, he could find his way back into the league and help lead the seven players on the Magic roster that are under the age of 25.
Marvin Williams keeps with the theme of veteran players who the Magic could add to their roster.
He played for both the Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks in the 2020 season and helped the Bucks get past the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs.
Not only that, Marvin Williams has experience playing coach Steve Clifford and could fit in seamlessly with the same coaching staff he played for during some of his best years in Charlotte. There would be few available players who could reinforce what the coaching staff is teaching quite like someone like Williams.
Unlike O’Quinn and Monroe, though, Williams brings with him a bounty of playoff experience–he has logged more than 1400 minutes in 59 playoff games — and a much-needed shooting boost. In the course of his career, Williams has shot 36-percent from 3-point range.
The 15-year veteran and former 2nd overall pick could help teach the Magic winning habits and prove a valuable resource in the locker room. His familiarity with Clifford from his time in Charlotte could also serve as an added bonus.
While Orlando could go for another young player — like Marquese Chriss, Omari Spellman or Jabari Parker — to fill the void left by Khem Birch, they likely will not, and rightfully so.
The Magic need veteran guidance and leadership and there are plenty of veteran power forwards the Magic and their young roster could benefit from greatly.
Whether it is one of Kyle O’Quinn, Greg Monroe, Marvin Williams, or one I didn’t mention, adding another player that knows the NBA ropes is a necessity for this young team.