The Orlando Magic had a lot of potential in this offseason, even if there was not a ton of desire to do much.
President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman previewed what even he warned might be an uneventful offseason by saying the team was not going to “rush back to mediocrity.” Yes, there seem to be expectations put on this extremely young team, but not excessive ones.
The goal, especially considering what the team did in its offseason so far, is to improve internally. And the team is expecting to do so.
But the reality was the Magic had few spaces to fill on their roster. With so many young players the team is eager to develop, Orlando has a lot of players to put attention on. And the Magic have made it clear too that they want to clear the pathway.
So while Orlando had ample cap space to make waves or be a receiver in a busy offseason for trades — just ask DeJounte Murray or Rudy Gobert — the team opted to stay fairly quiet. At least for now.
The Orlando Magic moved quickly to retain their roster and fill up their roster. That likely ends the team’s offseason moves as they look ahead to the 2023 season.
Orlando was busy in the early hours of free agency, agreeing to terms on a two-year, $21-million deal with Mo Bamba, signing Gary Harris to a two-year, $26-million deal and agreeing to terms on a two-year deal with Bol Bol. The only addition to the roster so far was signing first overall pick Paolo Banchero to his rookie contract.
That is a lot of retaining players from a 22-win team. It certainly points to the Magic believing in the culture and the group they are building right now.
But it also signals both the use of the majority of the team’s bountiful cap room entering the offseason and the filling of the Magic’s roster almost completely.
Orlando’s offseason and its 2023 roster are essentially complete. And it is hard to find room to do much more.
First the depth chart for next season:
The first thing to notice is the Magic have 17 rostered players. Currently, Caleb Houstan has not signed his rookie contract yet and Admiral Schofield has signed a two-way qualifying offer likely bringing him back for a two-way contract this year.
At this point, it feels safe to assume Houstan is going to sign a two-way contract with the roster already full. But this is a completely full roster.
On top of that, Orlando has spent most of its cap room for this offseason.
The Magic entered the offseason with about $28-29 million to spend. But, assuming flat contracts, the Magic spent at least $24 million on Harris and Bamba alone.
The terms of those contracts have not yet been reported clearly — Harris’ contract is official but Bamba will not be able to sign his contract until the moratorium ends July 6. Spotrac currently has estimates on their site, but contract details are still pending.
But Orlando has used up most of the team’s cap room. And the team has spent enough to reach the salary floor. The Magic are likely to head into the season with this little bit of cap room still available.
That could help the team try to execute trades in the near future. It still gives the team some flexibility. But at this point, the Magic’s offseason is essentially done.
The only thing still hanging over the team’s head is the possibility to trade Terrence Ross. But Orlando would not be able to take in more players than the team sends out. Unless the Magic are doing a straight salary dump for Ross — where they receive only a draft pick in return — it looks like they will retain Ross to start the season.
Orlando, because it still has some lingering cap room, can take back more money for Ross. But it is also still clear Ross could contribute to the team and give the team a veteran to boost and support these young players.
On paper, the Magic have filled all their needs.
They added a backup center by retaining Bamba for the position and Bol can certainly fill in some at that spot too. And Orlando bolstered its wing depth by extending Harris’ contract and retaining Ross’ services.
The Magic have a complete roster with all the attendant problems of having 15-plus players who the team has at least some passing interest. It previews what this season will actually be about — not necessarily becoming more competitive, but beginning to sort out which players will help the Magic achieve that goal and who the team will actually build around.
It will be a season of conflict and pressure for this young group as they take a step forward.
But Weltman deserves some commendation for maintaining his flexibility.
The short nature of the contracts he doled out — and reports that the second year on each of these deals is either a team option or partially non-guaranteed (these details are not confirmed yet) — gives the team the ability to enter free agency quickly once again.
At a minimum, Orlando could be a player in free agency again in the summer of 2024 when Markelle Fultz’s contract expires along with the end of rookie contracts for Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton and Chuma Okeke. (Eds. note: a previous version incorrectly stated they became free agents in the summer of 2025).
Orlando currently has $115.1 million committed to the 2023 season (including all options and guarantees). Orlando likely would not be able to act in free agency next offseason in a meaningful way, although the team would still have some cap room to play with.
The summer of 2023 is not where the Magic would make that kind of play. But the team will be able to jump into free agency quickly soon.
The Magic should have the flexibility to make a big free-agent play or use their young players and remaining cap room to make a big play on the trade market while Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and Paolo Banchero are on their rookie contracts. Jonathan Isaac would also become a free agent in 2025.
To be sure, what the Magic end up doing and how the team ultimately builds will get determined by what the team does on the court. But a lot of successful teams start the heavy work of their building while their stars are on rookie contracts.
That clock is ticking.
But the Magic have to see what they have first. And so they will set out this year to see exactly what they have.
In doing so, Orlando has filled up its roster quickly and likely finished the bulk of its offseason work in the first few hours of free agency — if not before considering they retained all of their own players.
The Magic are eager to see how their team continues to develop. Then the heavy lifting to shape this team might really begin.