Orlando Magic Offseason Grades (Early Edition)
The Orlando Magic entered the offseason as one of the few teams with significant cap room. Even with the players they were expected to retain from their roster with non-guaranteed deals, the Magic entered the summer with nearly $25 million in cap room to spend.
Nobody expected the Magic to use all of it. Orlando was always expected to have a quiet offseason. Still, it was important to add a few players, especially to add some veteran players.
The Magic did this by adding a skilled shooting forward to their team who will give the team some much-needed experience and veteran know-how to the roster.
The Orlando Magic was kind of the surprise destination for Joe Ingles. A lot of us had figured the Magic would focus on adding some forward and frontcourt depth, especially after spending both draft picks on backcourt players and guards.
Still, the Ingles news was a welcomed one. He represents a veteran who is almost universally respected around the league. On top of this, he is one of the absolute best spot-up and 3-point shooters in the league. He gives the Magic offense a potentially new element.
Last year, Ingles averaged 6.9 points per game and shot 40.9 percent from beyond the arc. That was his first year back too from a torn ACL.
Granted, Ingles will be entering his year 36 season. That makes him considerably older than most of the players on the team. It also makes it more likely that Ingles may not recover his pre-ACL injury form — he averaged 12.1 points per game and shot 45.1 percent from deep with the Utah Jazz in the 2021 season and was injured in the 2022 season.
Further, Ingles slides in as a forward on a team that is suddenly loaded with smallish forwards. There is the chance the Magic feel comfortable playing INgles some at power forward in smaller lineups. But his presence is a potential impediment to Anthony Black and Jett Howard getting consistent time.
The contract value is not super important either. Orlando is certainly overpaying Ingles at $11 million per year. But the second year of that contract is a team option. So if things do not work out or if the Magic need the money for any reason, this is a low-risk contract with potentially big dividends.
Similar to Joe Ingles, the Orlando Magic certainly overpaid some to retain Moe Wagner’s services. Orlando simply had money to spend and a requirement the team spend to reach the payroll floor.
On that front, the Magic kept their flexibility with Wagner too with the second year of his deal non-guaranteed (although it is not clear whether it is a team option or simply a non-guaranteed deal).
The Magic are playing with funny money for at least a little while longer. So these amounts are unimportant as long as the team has flexibility to get in and out of them.
Retaining Wagner seemed more about familiarity than anything else. And that is the part that does not sit right with me — especially with how critical the backup center role might end up being for the Magic.
It is not that Wagner has not earned that trust. He has after a career season where he averaged 10.5 points per game. Wagner knows what is expected of him and how to perform it. Wagner is not a bad player at all.
But there are some clear weaknesses.
Wagner had the worst field goal percentage defended at the rim among regularly playing centers in the league last year. He draws a lot of charges, leading the Magic in charges, but he is not a rim protector by any measure.
This seemed like a place the Magic could have sought an upgrade. Not just to mix things up for the sake of mixing things up. They needed a quality backup center since Wendell Carter has never played more than 62 games in any season of his career.
Orlando needed to plan on Carter missing at least 15 games this season. Maybe the Magic are indeed comfortable with the duo of Moe Wagner and Goga Bitadze manning those areas. But it seems like that is a risk not worth taking.
As was the risk of relying on Joe Ingles and Jonathan Isaac to handle the bench power forward minutes. It just felt like the team favored stability over filling in some immediate needs to set up their season.