The Orlando Magic are in a rebuilding mode. They are still working to evaluate their roster and see what they have.
Having the No. 1 pick in Paolo Banchero has certainly increased the excitement and perhaps accelerated their timeline some. Or at least perceptually it has increased the speed at which many think the Magic will build.
No one could blame Orlando for waiting to see what Banchero can give them on the court first, no matter how good his summer has been.
That has not stopped everyone from looking ahead and imagining how the Magic will complete their roster. Judging by the debates around the team’s starting lineup entering the season, that would center on shooting guard and the team’s need for more shooting and scoring.
One Eastern Conference executive appears to believe he knows where the Magic might head.
The Orlando Magic will once again have a ton of cap room to spend next offseason. One league executive believes the Magic could chase a big free agent with it.
Sean Deveney of Heavy.com cites one anonymous Eastern Conference executive who says the Golden State Warriors should watch out for the Orlando Magic if Jordan Poole hits restricted free agency.
The Warriors have a lot of things to consider this coming offseason as they look to build off their surprise return to the championship.
The team has a strong group of young players developing behind their traditional trio. But they also have a historic luxury tax bill coming their way. And so there is certainly the sense that they may be forced to part with some of their players and try to cut their tax bill where they can.
That is why Poole may be the odd man out, especially if he follows up his strong 2022 season.
From a player perspective, it is hard to argue that Poole would not fit in really well with the Magic.
Poole averaged 18.5 points per game and 4.0 assists per game with shooting splits of 44.8/36.4/92.5. He was a perfect complement for the Warriors and a super sixth man, who was able to go on big scoring binges.
He topped off last year at 38 points in a March game against the Phoenix Suns and had 10 games of 30 points or more. In the NBA Finals, he averaged 13.2 points per game and shot 38.5-percent from beyond the arc as he came off the bench and became a major shooting threat.
The Warriors do not survive Curry’s injury or win the championship without Poole.
The question comes down to how much Poole is worth. There are some who believe Poole is due for a major payday north of $25 million per year.
Poole might well be the most gettable guard option in a solid 2023 free agent class. It will all come down to how Poole performs this year, how the Magic’s shooting guards perform and what the market dictates (and of course what Poole wants).
There is of course no word if the Magic actually have any interest. The source of this report is an anonymous Eastern Conference scout and no one associated with the Magic. We know how close Orlando plays its cards too.
It is easy to see why someone on the outside may try to connect the dots like this.
The Magic are a team with a budding star in Banchero, with a need for a shooting guard, with a need for some more shooting to boost their offense and with money to spend in 2023 free agency.
Orlando essentially rolled over its massive cap room for the 2022 summer by signing Gary Harris and Mo Bamba to two years deals with the second year non-guaranteed.
The Magic currently have $43.7 million in guaranteed money for the 2024 season and an additional $27.8 million in likely team options for rookie contracts they will likely pick up.
That puts the Magic’s initial cap number at $71.4 million. That amount does not include the $17.4 million in non-guaranteed money for Jonathan Isaac’s contract or the non-guaranteed money for Gary Harris or Mo Bamba.
That would put the Magic at $61.6 million below the projected $133 million cap. In reality, they are expected to guarantee that last year for Isaac and pick up whatever draft pick they pick up. The Magic are projected to have real cap space at $31.7 million next summer, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac.
This rumor popping up very much seems like an exec looking at the landscape and asking: What teams need a starting shooting guard and have the money to spend?
It feels very similar to the reports the Magic were considered favorites to chase Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges throughout last year. Very few teams had money to spend and so anyone with cap room suddenly became connected to the big free agents — especially the restricted free agents — in the market.
Orlando most likely does have some thoughts about where the team may go moving forward. But the team has also shown tremendous patience. It could have easily jumped into the Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes, but the team decided it was not ready for that kind of pressure or to commit those kinds of assets yet.
As the Magic spend this year assessing what they have on their team, they will also be plotting where they go next. And that direction will undoubtedly become clearer once the team sees itself out on the floor. Undoubtedly Jeff Weltman is playing a wait-and-see game with his group to figure out where they need to go next.
What it is all leading up to is that moment when the team decides to push its chips in, whether that is going after a big-name free agent and spending some major cash on the market or going all-in on a trade.
That day is coming and coming very quickly depending on how fast the team develops on the floor and just how good some of these young players are.
Whether that means the team chases Poole or not next summer is yet to be determined. But what is clear is the Magic can be and will be players on the market very soon.