The Orlando Magic have a reputation for not valuing their second-round picks. For better or for worse, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has gotten into the habit of trading his second-round picks or, probably better put, kicking them down the road.
Some of this has to do with how young the roster is.
Weltman wants to make sure every young player has an opportunity to find playing time and grow within the Magic’s system. If there are too many young players, it is hard to develop them all at once while having the team develop and grow.
The frustration though of passing over a last opportunity — even if it is a long shot — continually with these second-round picks is a weird one for sure.
That is the context under which a lot of people should look at the move Weltman and the Magic made Sunday.
The Orlando Magic again traded their second-round picks, but this time taking a small gamble on their future and a potential pick swap in the 2026 first round.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports the Orlando Magic have traded three future second-round picks to the Phoenix Suns for a 2026 first-round pick swap in a flurry of moves for the Suns that includes the Suns trading Cameron Payne to the San Antonio Spurs and signing Bol Bol to a one-year deal.
On its face, that sounds like a strange deal. The Magic are trading three future second-round picks for a pick swap that the Magic may not even elect into.
The 2026 season is far away but not that far away. And the Phoenix Suns already owe a first-round pick swap to the Washington Wizards as part of the Bradley Beal trade. So the pick swap amounts to the Wizards getting the first pick between their pick and the Suns’ pick and then the Magic getting their option between their pick and whatever the Suns have left in the 2026 first round.
It is important to note that if the Magic have the worst of the three picks, they will keep their own pick. But if not, the Magic would get the second-best of the Wizards, Suns and Magic’s picks.
That does not seem like a lot. And as things stand, it probably means the Magic keep their own pick.
Of course, in two seasons, Orlando might be closer to contention and Phoenix will be dealing with Kevin Durant entering his year 38 season and Bradley Beal entering his year 33 season. A lot is likely to change with the Suns in the next two years. But Phoenix is trying to leverage itself for the present.
What has Magic fans confused is why they would trade three second-round picks for a pick swap that they might not even swap — or might not even increase their draft standing significantly in the 2026 draft.
The value of this trade might end up coming down to how you feel about which of the Magic’s many second-round picks they traded. It is important to point out Orlando has a ton of draft picks due to it in the next few seasons.
Even with trading three second-round picks, the Magic are still well-stocked with draft capital. They own all of their own picks plus the Denver Nuggets’ 2025 first-round pick (top-5 protected) from the Aaron Gordon trade.
Before today, Orlando owed zero picks to anyone else. So the team owns all of its own second-round picks through 2029.
Additionally, the Orlando Magic will also get:
- the Denver Nuggets’ 2024 second-round pick (Mo Bamba trade)
- the less favorable of the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies’ 2025 second-round pick (Evan Fournier trade)
- the Detroit Pistons’ 2026 second-round pick (Jason Preston trade)
- the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2026 second-round pick (Jordan Nwora trade)
- the Boston Celtics’ 2027 second-round pick (Evan Fournier trade)
- the Boston Celtics’ 2028 second-round pick (top-45 protected) (Bol Bol trade)
- the more favorable of the Los Angeles Lakers’ and Washington Wizards’ 2028 second-round pick (Max Christie trade)
How you feel about this trade depends on how you feel about the picks the Magic gave up (crossed out above since the story developed as I was writing this).
All three of those come from contenders and would happen later in the draft where there is not as much value — and the Magic have historically shown a reluctance to make a selection. So the Magic gave up three likely fairly low-value picks for the opportunity to improve their draft standing in the 2026 Draft.
This could end up being a whole lot of nothing in the end. The Wizards could likely remain the worst of the three teams and keep their pick in 2026. And the Magic may not yet be better than the Suns and keep their own pick in 2026 too.
Still, this is an interesting gamble to try to improve their first-round standing. And as much as the Suns are working to improve their draft stash while still working on contending, the Magic could easily improve enough in the next two years to make that pick swap worth it. Or use it as a future trade asset when it comes due.
It is also very difficult to imagine the Magic using all of the picks at their disposal. As this team improves, it feels likely the team is going to be more willing to trade some of its future draft capital to consolidate and improve.
Everyone senses the Magic could be the next team to make an all-in trade. This deal does not necessarily help with that since the Magic are spending some of their second-round capital to make a deal while not actually netting a new asset (unless the Suns bottom out in the next two years, which makes everything that much more interesting, or the Magic become contenders very quickly).
It is hard to say whether this is a true bet on the Magic or the Suns’ futures. It seems like it was an opportunity to try to create a positive asset out of three picks the Magic were probably going to look to move or let expire anyway.
We will see what this all amounts to in two years as both the Magic and Suns could be in very different places. At least the Magic are being more creative kicking their second-round picks down the road instead of trading them for future seconds or just selling them straight out.