Orlando Magic Offseason Preview: 3 going and 3 staying in the rebuild

Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley helped build the team's foundation. But there is still work to do in what should be a busy summer. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley helped build the team's foundation. But there is still work to do in what should be a busy summer. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
Mo Bamba has taken advantage of his opportunity for the Orlando Magic and seems in store for a breakout year. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

For the Orlando Magic, the team has not experienced a lot of success in the last year and a half. They have only 26 wins since last year’s trade deadline.

Yet, things feel pretty optimistic. The Magic exited this season even at 21-61 believing in the young players they have invested in and the beginnings of their development process. Another high draft pick is coming and the opportunity to draft a high-level player. But the heart of that optimism starts with the players.

And every offseason begins with key questions to help the team move forward.

Orlando is in a total rebuild and they must answer two simple questions: Who is staying for the future? And who is gone?

Even in the early stages of a rebuild, the Orlando Magic face a lot of key questions about how they will make their roster and which players they will continue to invest in.

If they do not answer those questions correctly they could find themselves hitting the reset button and extend this 10 year rebuild even further.

The Magic have key decisions to make on veteran players such as Robin Lopez and Gary Harris, who are about to hit free agency and may not be interested in sticking with a young, rebuilding team.

They also must assess whether they have seen enough from Mohamed Bamba to match a big offer he might receive in restricted free agency.

If they make the wrong decisions this summer the Magic are at risk of losing an already starving fan base who have seen the team win two playoff games since Dwight Howard left a decade ago. But they also cannot overcommit themselves and retain players who no longer fit the team’s future.

If the Magic are going to have success in the future the calls they make this summer will be the building blocks for that.

Staying: Mo Bamba

Mo Bamba is a restricted free agent this summer and is probably the biggest question for the Orlando Magic this offseason besides who they choose to draft.

Under first-year head coach Jamahl Mosley, Mo Bamba saw his minutes increased by 10 per game and saw an increase across the board in points, boards, assists, steals, and blocks. He averaged a career-high with 10.6 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per game and shot a career-best 38.1-percent from beyond the arc.

It is amazing what time can do for a young player. After struggling with injuries early in his career and after struggling to crack Steve Clifford’s rotation, Bamba got on the floor and made the most of his time.

There are still plenty of questions about Bamba and where he ultimately fits in the NBA. And there are still plenty of questions of exactly how the Magic want to use him.

And all of those questions come to a head with his contract up and restricted free agency ahead of him.

Despite being one of only a handful of teams with a lot of cap space this year, the Magic are not in the running for any big-time free agents like James Harden or Zach LaVine this offseason. They are not likely to go all-in on a trade for one either.

And with teams maybe not wanting to take a chance on Bamba who is in his fourth year, the Magic could match any offer sheet he receives.

Considering that, Bamba might not receive the lucrative offer sheet he is looking for anyway and with the mid-level exception being lower than his qualifying offer, it is eas to see both he and the Magic being willing to come back for one more year.

Bamba said after the Magic’s season finale that he wants to stay in Orlando. But business will have to take care of itself. And this is where the Magic’s decision-making might ultimately decide whether Bamba will stay.

One more improvement-filled season could mean a big payday for Bamba based off of the potential he still has.

The Magic do not want to give up on that potential one year too early, especially when you consider their limited options in free agency, Bamba’s potential lack of interest on the open market and the Magic’s cap flexibility.

So rolling the dice and returning to Orlando is not out of the realm of possibility.