Orlando Magic Offseason Grades (Early Edition)
In addition to contracts the Magic needed to guarantee, they had a few options they had to decide and another big contract guarantee they extended before making the decision to part ways.
This Magic team is largely the same as last year, and so these decisions largely worked to keep players in the fold. But it also worked to clear up some lower-level salaries and set up the Magic for their spending in free agency.
Nobody really knew what to make of Goga Bitadze when the Orlando Magic picked him up in free agency. He was a former first-round pick who struggled to find his place with the Indiana Pacers. He just did not really click with what they were doing and he struggled to find consistency on top of that.
Bitadze arrived in Orlando and seemingly immediately made an impact. He averaged 5.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in 17 appearances with the Magic to end the season. Bitadze quickly took over the backup center minutes too as the Magic wanted to keep his energy on the court.
That kept building too statistically. His defensive impact was pretty clear even if he still had a limited offensive game. The Magic had a 104.8 defensive rating with Bitadze on the floor, the best mark for any player on the team.
That made Bitadze seemingly really valuable to give the team a better interior presence. It felt like an easy choice to bring Bitadze back at his cheaper number, especially since he seemingly supplanted Moe Wagner for most of those backup center minutes by the end of the season.
Whether the Magic could rely on him as a starter for when Wendell Carter is out was another question. But Bitadze seemed like a player worth keeping around a little longer.
On one hand, the Orlando Magic do not seem like they should quite be in the business of giving up on young players.
And Bol Bol showed a lot of promise through the course of the season. This was essentially his rookie season after he struggled to find development time in Denver. And he took advantage of it averaging 9.1 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game.
On the other hand, Bol’s play really tailed off toward the end of the season. He fell out of the rotation. And while he was an excellent shot blocker and scorer, he struggled when the game slowed down. Teams were able to target him on both ends and he struggled to adjust as the league adjusted to him.
That is probably why the Magic ultimately parted with him. They do not have the space to keep waiting for his development as more young players filled in and the team’s ambitions grew.
Still, Bol is a talented player. The team needs some help and forward depth. Keeping Bol around would not have been the worst thing for the team.
But he became a victim of a roster crunch and an easily waivable contract that saved the Magic a ton of money (over waiving Chuma Okeke, for instance).
The Orlando Magic seemingly signed Admiral Schofield up from a two-way contract to a full roster contract last year as a favor and reward for his service. Schofield was solid for the Magic last year especially considering the injuries the team faced. He played his role well.
But it definitely felt like he had graduated from a two-way contract. So declining his team option to create the extra roster space was warranted.
The surprise came later in the offseason when the Magic brought Schofield back for another run as a two-way player.
For the Magic, this is a great thing because Schofield is a high-level G-League player who can contribute well in the NBA in this two-way slot. For Schofield, he probably should be seeking a more permanent home in the NBA rather than splitting time in the G-League.
Michael Carter-Williams made a quick four-game cameo at the end of the season last year. Really his signing was to bring back a familiar veteran voice in the locker room — someone whom a lot of the players knew and trusted well. Carter-Williams was never meant to stick. And so it was no surprise the team let him go early in the offseason.