The NBA rumor mill never seems to slow down.
There is always a player looking to get out of their current situation and a trade on the table. There is always some discussion going on and trade calls never really stop — even after the pencil’s down moment of the NBA Trade Deadline in February.
The Damian Lillard and James Harden sagas appear set to continue on into training camp with no real resolution in sight — a mystery team emerging for Lillard seems to have quieted with reports Lillard would still demand a trade to the Miami Heat.
It is extension season too. Rookie extensions can be signed until the start of the regular season — Cole Anthony could potentially sign an extension by then — and player extensions typically get taken care of before training camp or the start of the regular season.
And extensions that do not get signed or agreed to start to lead to frustrations and the rare trade request.
Extension season has started in the NBA and that has gotten the rumor mill spinning again. For the Orlando Magic, they seem content to stick with what they have. That was seemingly a deliberate choice.
Buddy Hield then appears to have dropped a bomb on the Indiana Pacers’ hopeful push to return to the playoffs.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported extension talks between the Pacers and Hield broke down and the Pacers will work to find a trade:
That has caused a lot of eyebrows to rise. Who could not use one of the best volume 3-point shooters in the NBA? Certainly, the Magic could and he has been at least on the list of potential free agents the Magic could target in the summer of 2024.
Hield is requesting a trade now to get a trade-and-extend done perhaps, hoping to re-sign with whatever team ends up acquiring him for the long-term.
The match with the Magic from a skill perspective — we will get to salary and age in a moment — seems like a perfect fit.
Orlando has used Gary Harris at the shooting guard to give the team some reliable outside shooting in its lineup. But undoubtedly shooting remains the Magic’s biggest need.
There are few shooters as good as Hield in the league. He averaged 16.8 points per game, shooting 42.5 percent on 8.5 3-point attempts per game. The 3-point volume alone would be valuable for the Magic as they took some of the fewest 3-pointers in the league last year.
The spacing and gravity Hield would provide the Magic or any team is valuable.
Undoubtedly Orlando is one of the teams with the ability to acquire a player like Hield. Hield is owed $19.3 million in the final year of a four-year, $94 million deal (he made $24.7 million in the first year of that contract). Charania reported the offer the Pacers made did not make Hield feel wanted, leading to the breakdown in the conversation.
If the Magic were thinking of making a trade to acquire Hield, they certainly would be doing so with the intent of signing him to a new contract. Orlando would not invest any significant assets (even Jonathan Isaac’s $17 million partially guaranteed deal) just to let Hield go after one year. And that could start at that $24 million per year range when he signs his new deal.
At 30 years old, Hield probably understands this could be his last shot at a big contract. It sure sounds like he is seeking that last payday.
It would be silly for Orlando not to kick the tires on acquiring Hield — Charania reports no deal with any team is imminent, but things change quickly. Considering his skill set and the Magic’s eyes on improving to make the postseason, Hield makes a lot of sense.
But executing a deal just before training camp seems to go against a lot of the Magic’s mission and ideals for this season.
Orlando is espousing its continuity at this point in the offseason. The franchise has a lot of faith in its internal development to help the team grow and advance in the Eastern Conference. And it seems the team was intentional with its decision to bring back mostly the same roster.
"“For us, I’m a firm believer in consistency and stability,” Mosley said. “We brought the same group back, adding Joe Ingles, Jett Howard and Anthony Black. For the most part, we brought back every person back that was with us who understands what we are trying to do.“Now the messaging stays the same. The guys who were here before can relay that message to the guys who are coming in. For me, there is a level of gratitude for how we kept it the same. Now these guys know what to expect, they know our voices, they know what the coaches are saying, they know what we were good at last year and double down on it and know where we need to improve.”"
The Magic had tons of cap room to spend this offseason and opted to flip it over to next season. The team shed three players who were essentially out of the rotation in Bol Bol, Michael Carter-Williams and Admiral Schofield (converted back to a two-way contract) and replaced them with two rookies in Anthony Black and Jett Howard and a veteran in Joe Ingles.
This decision to bring back much of the same roster seemed very intentional and very much part of the growth they want to see from this group.
Jamahl Mosley said a lot of coaches like Erik Spoelstra and Mike Malone have built their success for their teams based on this general continuity. An understanding from the core players what the team is about and an alignment of those returning players to what the coach is preaching.
For Mosley, this also comes with the responsibility to improve and bring everyone along with them. And that will be the expectation now that the Magic has brought the team back. Orlando is expecting the team to get better and playa more mature brand of basketball.
Orlando can certainly still use some upgrades and changes will eventually come to this roster. It is the only constant. But the Magic do not seem ready to force that change.
The Magic could make that decision at the trade deadline when they find themselves in the thick of a postseason race — or not — or next offseason when the team has a clearer picture of who it is. It could still involve Hield if he is not dealt before then.
But at this juncture, a little more than a week before training camp, the Magic do not seem eager to upset their apple cart or rock the boat. The Magic brought the same roster back for a reason and it seems like they are content to see how this group grows.