The Orlando Magic under Jeff Weltman have been more than willing to trust the roster they have.
The biggest changes to the Magic roster came during the deconstruction at the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline. Otherwise, Weltman has more often worked in his offseasons to re-sign his own players and retain trade assets or allow young players the chance to grow.
Before agreeing to sign Joe Ingles on Friday, the Magic’s biggest free agency move was signing Al-Farouq Aminu, a move that quickly backfired thanks to injuries.
Orlando did add Ingles and that looks like it will be an impact signing. The team added two rookies the Magic are hopeful will be contributors this season and well beyond in Anthony Black and Jett Howard.
The Orlando Magic’s offseason strategy has usually stuck to building with what they already have and valuing continuity. The Magic turned to that principle again this summer, completing their offseason by re-signing Moe Wagner.
The Magic though have completed at least the free agency part of the offseason with a familiar face. Orlando is sticking to at least the principle of trusting continuity to lead to growth and development and working on more cosmetic and smaller changes to the roster.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports the Magic will re-sign Moe Wagner to a two-year, $16 million contract.
The deal puts the Magic’s roster at 16 with Bol Bol still on the roster — the team and Bol agreed to extend his guarantee date on the final year of his contract — meaning the team will have to trim the roster by one player at least before the start of the season (teams can carry 20 players on the roster through training camp).
Wagner though has earned his opportunity to stick on a roster after two strong seasons with the Magic.
Last year, he averaged a career-best 10.5 points per game and added 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor overall. Wagner quickly established himself last year as the backup center with his consistency offensively and his work on the offensive glass especially.
Wagner led the team in charges drawn last year and was known for being solid defensively even if he was not spectacular. Wagner was also the resident irritant for the team. He got the team involved in a major altercation with the Detroit Pistons in December. And Wagner is known for getting under the skin of several star players through the process.
That was one drawback with Wagner. But the Magic needed someone who could give them a bit of an edge. And Wagner gave them plenty of that.
The other drawback with Wagner was his interior defense.
No player who played at least 50 games had a worse defensive field goal percentage at the rim than Wagner. Opponents who could get him in the paint found it fairly easy to score or comparatively easier to score on him.
By the end of the season, the Magic were deciding between Goga Bitadze (a post-trade deadline signee) and Moe Wagner for those backup minutes. Bitadze was winning a lot of those minutes as the team focused more on shoring up its interior defense.
The Magic picked up Bitadze’s team option earlier this week, suggesting how much they valued his growth and interior defense.
For sure, backup center was one of the bigger concerns for the Magic this offseason and this may be one area they did not adequately address.
Wendell Carter has never played more than 62 games in any season. It is very likely based on this history that he will miss a good chunk of time at some point in the season. Orlando clearly has faith that Bitadze and Wagner can fill in those minutes adequately.
The team may not have a choice now.
With the reported Wagner signing, the Magic are out of space on the roster to add anyone else in free agency. And so the team’s depth chart looks like this for now:
|Markelle Fultz||Gary Harris||Franz Wagner||Paolo Banchero||Wendell Carter|
|Cole Anthony||Jalen Suggs||Joe Ingles||Jonathan Isaac||Moe Wagner|
|Anthony Black||Caleb Houstan||Jett Howard||Bol Bol||Goga Bitadze|
|Kevon Harris||Chuma Okeke|
That is obviously a full roster that will leave the team watching several positional battles during training camp. There are going to be good players who find themselves on the outside of the rotation at times.
At the very least, Orlando is covered for injuries this time around. The team should not be too worried about a 5-20 start again this time.
If the goal was to improve this team’s depth this offseason, the Magic certainly did that. They will have position battles and fights for playing time at nearly every position on the roster.
There are certainly areas where the team will need to improve. and part of this season is figuring out which of these players will win out and perform under postseason pressure. The expectations and potential is well drawn for this team now that their offseason appears over — barring one more cut or potential trades.
The Magic though essentially have their roster set for next season.