Orlando Magic get passing grades for offseason

Paolo Banchero was the big get for the Orlando Magic this offseason in what was an otherwise quiet summer. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Paolo Banchero was the big get for the Orlando Magic this offseason in what was an otherwise quiet summer. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

When a team finishes with the second-worst record in the league, there is inevitably a lot of work that a team has to do. The last thing anyone expects a team to do is virtually stand pat.

The Orlando Magic brought back every player except for two from last year’s final roster. The team looked at its 22-win team and signed up for a bit more.

Under normal circumstances, that would seem strange. But it does not count the major piece the Magic brought in or the realities of a young, rebuilding team. Orlando bringing everyone back to their team is a vote of confidence in the culture the team is building as much as anything else. The Magic want to see that development continue.

That alone is not a reason for confidence. And, to put it mildly, confidence is running very high among Magic fans. There is a genuine buzz around this team.

Even nationally, there is a generally positive vibe to the work the Magic did this offseason. Orlando has gotten not just passing grades for its somewhat quiet offseason, it has gotten a huge thumbs up around the league.

It should not have taken six paragraphs to explain why.

The Orlando Magic’s big acquisition this offseason in Paolo Banchero made this a successful offseason as the team stayed relatively quiet to bide their time and evaluate their young roster.

The number one pick in any draft will create positivity in a franchise. And the fact Paolo Banchero, who emerged after a secretive and hotly debated draft process, has shined both in Summer League and then continuing onto the summer pro-am circuit (he will be playing Saturday in Isaiah Thomas’ pro-am tournament in Tacoma, Wash.).

Banchero has indeed lived up to the hype at least so far. And the Magic are hoping he is the kind of player who changes the franchise’s fortunes and maps out a clearer future.

So far it seems like Banchero is that player. And Magic fans are just sitting around and dreaming up the possibilities of what he can do on the floor and how the Magic might use their versatile roster around him.

National writers agree these possibilities make the Magic’s offseason a success.

Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com gave the Magic a “B” for their offseason, citing the addition of Paolo Banchero and the return to health of both Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac will help the Magic clarify the direction they need to head. In his estimation, running things back is fine because Orlando is still figuring out its direction and that should be clearer this season.

Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic gave the Magic a “B+” saying adding the top pick in the draft is enough to make any summer a success.

Bryan Kalbrosky of For The Win gave the Magic a “B” because of how uneventful the offseason was outside of the Banchero signing. Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports gave the Magic a “B” in mid-July saying the Banchero acquisition is really all that matters for the team.

There are a lot of the same themes here.

Orlando was always going to have a good offseason with the number one pick. And after Summer League, it certainly feels like the team made the right choice. Banchero seems like he will be the kind of offensive weapon the team has not had in two decades.

There is some fair criticism though to lay at keeping much of the roster the same.

Orlando never found a trade for Terrence Ross, and while he too is excited about the Magic’s future he is as uncertain as ever about his future. The team did not do much in the trade market.

President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has developed a reputation for standing pat sometimes to his detriment. He has not ever really made a splashy trade that cost him very much — the deal for Markelle Fultz only cost him Jonathon Simmons and a pick owed to him from Philadelphia. Weltman has largely taken care of the players on his roster.

To be sure, there is a time where Weltman and the Magic are going to have to act and do so decisively. Some fans believe that with Donovan Mitchell still hanging over the trade market, the Magic should consider doing that now. They may have a point if Banchero is everything everyone says he is.

There is a fair debate to be had about when the right time is and who the right player is to push in.

Orlando entered the offseason with a ton of cap room to spend. Even with few free agents to spend it on, the Magic stuck to taking care of their own.

To Weltman and his staff’s credit, the Magic got everyone back on team-friendly deals.

The Magic essentially rolled over the cap room they had for this summer to next summer if they want. And they maintained their flexibility for trades as they get closer to the deadline and head toward next offseason.

Gary Harris signed a two-year, $26-million deal with the second year fully non-guaranteed. Mo Bamba signed a two-year, $20.6-million deal with the second year fully non-guaranteed. Even Bol Bol got a similarly two-year, $4.4-million deal. The second year, again, fully non-guaranteed.

Orlando has done well to remain flexible.

But those concerns about the team not taking a significant step forward aside from Banchero is a fair one to have. Orlando is opting to see what its roster looks like with its new draft pick with hopefully some help before taking its next step.

It is not impossible for this young Magic roster to figure things out quickly and rise the standings. But this is likely another year of study as the Magic figure out the best way to move forward.

Orlando had another offseason for standing pat and study. This is likely the last season the team can do this. Especially with rookie contracts nearing completion.

Next. Caleb Houstan deserves more attention. dark

Overall though, it is hard to argue that this was not a successful offseason for the Magic.