5 questions for the third quarter of the Orlando Magic’s 2023 season

Orlando Magic, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /
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Orlando Magic
Terrence Ross of the Orlando Magic shoots the ball over Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

5 questions for the third quarter of the Orlando Magic’s 2023 season

Will the Orlando Magic make a splash at the trade deadline?

The midpoint of the season brings with it not only the focus on the postseason, but the looming clouds of the trade deadline. It is something every team has to focus on and think about no matter where they are in the standings.

The trick is figuring out what a team’s goals for the deadline are or will be.

The trade deadline is a market for buyers and sellers and not typically for major team reformations, unless it is a teardown to set up for the next offseason or a rebuild. Teams that need that last little bit to get themselves over the top to accomplish their goals are the ones who drive the market.

The Orlando Magic are still figuring out which direction in the standings the team intends to go — presumably going up and trying to fight for a playoff spot. That would suggest Orlando might consider being a buyer at the deadline.

With their cache of draft picks and young players, Orlando is positioned to make a splash if the team wants to do it.

But the Magic are so far back in the standings still, pushing some chips in to make the postseason this year would be a bit of fool’s gold. As president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said repeatedly the team is not seeking a sugar high of a playoff spot.

The Magic’s focus this offseason will be on its long term. That would suggest the team is not about to push its chips in at the deadline unless a killer deal comes along.

The Fred VanVleet rumors may have to wait for free agency. Although there continues to be reporting suggesting the Orlando Magic could go after the Toronto Raptors’ shooting guard.

The market more likely sees the Magic as sellers. Teams are likely circling to try to get veterans Terrence Ross and Gary Harris from the team at minimal cost or even Mo Bamba who has seemingly been squeezed out of the rotation.

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It feels a whole lot more likely the Magic will be fairly quiet at the deadline. The team is not looking to upend anything.

Perhaps the team trades Terrence Ross, who is on an expiring deal, for a buyout candidate —  a trade proposal with the Los Angeles Lakers involving Patrick Beverley has gained some attractiveness among fans — but the return is not likely going to be much because of Ross’ contract status.

Harris might be able to fetch more. But his injury issues this year has likely depressed his price. And who knows what Bamba would fetch? It does not seem like a ton.

The reality for the Magic is that they do not have a lot of leverage at the trade deadline to deploy their assets. And their team seems to be in a wait-and-see mode with several of the young players.

Orlando seems due for a consolidation trade at some point. But mutually beneficial trades usually come in the offseason. That feels like when the Magic are going to make a big splash.

Stability has been something the team has sought throughout the season so far with all the injuries the Magic faced earlier in the season. It is hard to see the team upsetting the apple cart so much.