Orlando Magic’s 5 best trades of the last 10 years
5. Low-risk move prevents logjam.
The final trade in the top 5 was difficult. I wanted to include the Dwight Howard trade, but unfortunately, that was in August of 2012 beyond our 10-year timeframe. I also liked the deal where the Magic acquired Joe Harris and a 2017 2nd round pick in exchange for a 2020 second-round selection.
However, Harris was waived immediately after Orlando acquired him. He signed with the Brooklyn Nets and ended up having a great career averaging 11.6 points per game in seven seasons for the Nets. But I wanted to focus on the value the Magic actually received.
Bismack Biyombo was signed to a significant contract when he was brought to Central Florida after a playoff run with the Toronto Raptors that turned heads. Unfortunately, he did not live up to his hefty deal and was outplayed by Nikola Vucevic for starting center minutes in that crowded frontcourt that also had Serge Ibaka and Aaron Gordon fighting for comfortable minutes.
On June 21, 2018, the Magic selected Mo Bamba with the sixth overall pick in the NBA Draft. Clearly, Bamba needed minutes to blossom with the team and Biyombo became the odd man out.
Orlando ended up dealing Biyombo 16 days after drafting Bamba which cleared a significant logjam at center. The team brought in Jerian Grant and Timofey Mozgov. Trading a player with such a large contract for a former first-round pick in Jerian Grant is solid.
Grant struggled for the Magic, but he was well worth the flier at 25 years old at the time. He played in 60 games for the team and played 15.7 minutes per game shooting 36.4 percent from three.
Jerian Grant also fit the Jeff Weltman mold of being a 6-foot-4 ball handler with a 6-foot-8 wingspan. He was acquired for a player in Biyombo who simply didn’t have a path to playing time.
What sweetens this deal to bring it into the top five is the career-ending injury exception for Timofey Mozgov. At the time of the trade, Mozgov was owed $16 million and $16.7 million in the final two years of his deal.
After not playing for the Magic during his first season in pinstripes, the team waived his contract and applied for an exception due to a career-ending injury. The NBA approved, and Mozgov’s contract was removed from Orlando’s payroll.
The Magic essentially took on two expiring contracts in Grant and Mozgov and cleared $17 million in Biyombo’s final year of his deal.
Grant probably played more than Biyombo would have that season and was still under his rookie contract. Mozgov never suited up for the Magic in his tenure but was a role model in mentoring Bamba in his rookie year.
Bamba was drafted to be the future at the position for Orlando, and dealing Biyombo to Charlotte opened the door for immediate minutes for the rookie.
This is a smaller transaction but an underrated deal by Jeff Weltman reorganizing the roster while saving cap flexibility in the coming seasons.