5 Orlando Magic matchups that will one day be must-see TV
Dec. 11 at Orlando (7P)
Jan. 22 at Orlando (7P)
Feb. 22 at Cleveland (7P)
Last summer at this time, Orlando Magic fans were having an intense debate about whether the team should push their chips in and grab Donovan Mitchell and whatever it would cost to bring him to Orlando.
With Mitchell, the Magic would have a free ticket to the postseason and the kind of superstar guard the team has not really ever had (Anfernee Hardaway and Tracy McGrady are not really guards at their size).
The idea was tantalizing even if the Magic made it pretty clear this was not the kind of move they were interested in doing after grabbing Paolo Banchero with the top pick. All the reporting that was out there suggested the Magic never even seriously considered it despite the good reasons for them to explore it.
Mitchell ended up in Cleveland and the rest was kind of history.
The Cavaliers broke through to the Play-In Tournament in 2022, dropping a home game for the 8-seed to miss the Playoffs. They had a proof of concept that they could win with a core of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and rookie Evan Mobley. They were ready to take the pressure someone like Mitchell would bring to get them over the top.
They did that, earning the 4-seed although Playoff disappointment still followed in a first-round loss to the New York Knicks (they were the ones to chase after Max Strus to shore up their shooting).
The Cavaliers in 2022 essentially had the season the Magic hope to have this year. Orlando wants to follow those footsteps and have the proof of concept breakthrough to get into the postseason so they could be players for a major player in the near future.
With the Cavaliers’ core group of four players entering this season at age 28 (Mitchell), 22 (Mobley), 22 (Garland) and 24 (Allen), this Cavs team is going to be a factor in the Eastern Conference for a little while longer. The Magic are considerably younger with Paolo Banchero entering this season at 20, Franz Wagner at 22, Markelle Fultz at 25 and Wendell Carter at 24.
Yet somehow, the Cavaliers are not one of the featured teams on national TV this year despite their success last year. They only have 17 games on national TV (including NBATV) this season. If the belief is that playoff success and dynamic stars gets you attention from the league, then the Cavaliers are proof that the system might be rigged.
That is something that needs to change because the Magic and Cavs are clearly positioned to be part of the league’s future.