Orlando Magic’s summer table is set

Orlando Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has not been the most active executive, but somebody likes the job he is doing. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has not been the most active executive, but somebody likes the job he is doing. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have nothing to do but wait and plan right now.

The Playoffs are going on and the league is moving on. All the while the NBA Draft Lottery is approaching with less than a month now to go before the ping pong balls fly and the Magic’s future becomes a bit clearer.

There are always multiple things going on in the Magic’s front office. The planning for free agency occurs in concurrence with draft prep. And while the draft promises to be something that can reshape the franchise, there are still a lot of things to do this offseason.

This will be a critical offseason as the Magic aim to make good on the foundation they built during the 2022 season and start to inch forward closer to the playoff dreams that are being played out right now.

No one is under the impression that it will be easy. And president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman will have his work cut out for him to use the tools at his disposal this season.

The Orlando Magic are preparing for a busy offseason that could reshape the franchise and set the team on a path to improve. They have the tools to get things done.

With still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Magic’s offseason, it is important to have some sense of what the team has in reserve and the limitations they might have on their season.

There is this chance right now to take a breath and take stock of what the Magic have in store for this offseason. And that is what the team should be doing as it assesses the tools it has moving through the offseason.

It can be easy to forget just what the Magic have in their war chest entering this offseason. So this is a good time to take stock of what the Magic have to work with entering this critical offseason.

The Draft

The most important piece of the puzzle for the Orlando Magic this offseason remains the NBA Draft.

When a team is at the bottom of the standings, its best tool to improve is usually the draft. That is usually the only place these teams can go to get top-end talent. And Orlando is in a good position to get one of the best players in this draft.

The Magic, by virtue of having the second-worst record in the NBA, are guaranteed at least a top-six pick in the draft. They have a 14.0-percent chance of landing the top pick in the draft and a 52.1-percent chance of landing in the top four.

So much of the focus will be on that top pick no matter where it lands.

But Orlando is pretty well stocked for the draft both for this year and beyond.

The Magic own all of their own draft picks. The only pick they owe is a top-55 protected 2023 pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the Bol Bol trade.

They have future first-round picks due to them in 2023 from the Chicago Bulls (top-4 protected as part of the Nikola Vucevic trade) and in as early as 2025 from the Denver Nuggets (top-5 protected as part of the Aaron Gordon trade, with the condition it conveys two years after a previous pick conveys to the Oklahoma City Thunder).

The point is, the Magic have some draft capital they can move around when the time is right and some more bites at the first-round apple in future years (and everyone is preparing for an anticipated “double” year when the league eliminates its age limit).

This year the Orlando Magic will also have the 32nd and 35th picks (the latter from the Indiana Pacers as part of a trade the Magic made with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020). Those are two really high-level second-round picks that could land the tam with some first-round talented players.

Of course, one of the big criticisms for the Magic is that Jeff Weltman simply does not use second-round picks or even late first-round picks. There is a long record of the Magic simply punting on potential opportunities that deserves — and will get — its own post.

The Magic though have the potential to add a couple of first-round level players without first-round prices. Or they well could have the ability to get into the first round again by either packaging both picks together or packaging a pick with Terrence Ross to climb into the late first round.

That appeared to be what the Magic wanted anyway in return for Ross. That could be a window to climb up and give contending teams the veteran they are looking for rather than an unproven rookie.

That leads to the Magic and their free-agent strategy where they are probably going to be willing to take on money to get cheaper players they actually want to develop.

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Free Agency

The next part of the puzzle this offseason will come in free agency.

The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams this offseason projected to have significant cap room. That does not mean they will spend it but they have the potential to be players for what free agents are available. It may just depend on how fast the Magic want to push the pace of their rebuild.

The Magic currently have $81.2-million in guaranteed salary for next year before cap holds and draft picks. The second overall pick is due a cap hit of $9.8 million.

That means the most cap room the Magic can create this offseason is $31.1 million with a salary cap of $122 million.

Obviously, there are things that will cut into that.

The team will have to decide what to do with Mo Bamba in restricted free agency and with Gary Harris in free agency. Both of those players will have fairly large cap holds that will eat into that cap room and require the team to deal with their own free agents first.

Orlando also has $3.6 million in non-guaranteed salaries they seem likely to guarantee in Moe Wagner and Devin Cannady.

That will probably put the Magic under full max cap space. But that should give a good idea of the amount of money the Magic have to play with.

They could well be a team that looks to take a chance on one of the young players who seem like they are breaking out this season or in the playoffs — such as Jalen Brunson or Bruce Brown or Miles Bridges. The Magic could be major players for one of these up-and-coming free agents if they want.

But that does not seem likely.

The Magic have made it pretty clear they want to be patient with things. Jeff Weltman said the team has not pushed any chips into the middle of the table and it seems they want to keep their cap sheet relatively clean so they can remain nimble to do so when the team is more developed and ready.

So do not expect the Magic to make some splashy move this offseason with their free-agent money. But that opportunity is there if the team wants to take it.

Orlando has money to burn, but the team still needs to be careful with how the team spends it as the team looks to add players to support the current core and grow with them but still keeping the flexibility to speed up when the roster calls for it.

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The Roster Crunch

Hidden in all of this remains a pretty intriguing roster crunch.

The Orlando Magic have nine players currently under contract for next season. Guaranteeing Moe Wagner and Devin Cannady’s non-guaranteed contracts would bring that total up to 11. The Magic have their first-round pick who is certain to make the team to get them to 12. And then two more second-round picks to bring them to 14.

The limit for a roster is 15 — plus two two-way contract players. And so already it is easy to see how the Magic might need to consolidate their roster some.

And considering Terrence Ross is the only veteran among that 14 that seem set to make up the Magic’s roster, they could be ripe for a trade to add a veteran or make some space for the veteran.

The roster is not complete yet, but it is also already looking pretty full.

Potentially further complicating matters, is the Magic’s reported interest in center Steven Enoch, who played for Bitci Baskonia in Spain last year.

That could well be for a two-way contract, but it is hard to imagine someone playing for an ACB League team jumping back to the U.S. just for a lowly two-way deal. Enoch would likely fill in as a reserve center if that is in fact the direction the Magic are headed.

The Magic’s biggest impediment to getting things done this offseason is just the numbers on their roster.

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But it should be clear just how much the team can get done this offseason. There are plenty of opportunities in front of this team to continue to improve and develop moving forward.