3 Orlando Magic players who are expendable, 3 the team can't afford to trade

The NBA's trade season is getting set to open in a week with most contracts around the league eligible to trade. The Orlando Magic find themselves suddenly in contention and perhaps at the center of the trade market. They will have to assess their roster carefully.

Markelle Fultz's injury has thrown a wrench in any plans to watch him develop and grow this season for the Orlando Magic.
Markelle Fultz's injury has thrown a wrench in any plans to watch him develop and grow this season for the Orlando Magic. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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3 Orlando Magic players who are expendable, 3 the team can't afford to trade

Can't Afford to Lose: Jonathan Isaac

If availability is the best ability for a player like Markelle Fultz, absence might be making the heart grow fonder for Jonathan Isaac. And there is something to that because Isaac is still a fascinating player despite his long list of injury issues.

When Isaac does play -- and despite his return last year and then again this year, that still seems like a rare occurrence -- it is clear he can make an extremely positive impact on the game. The Magic are definitely hurting defensively since he left the lineup with this ankle injury. Orlando's defense has notably lagged since that win over the Boston Celtics.

That is why it still feels like Isaac is indispensable to the team. And with how favorable his contract remains -- completely non-guaranteed for the 2025 season -- it is hard to give him away or not get something substantial in return.

The numbers are pretty clear. The Magic have a 93.3 defensive rating when Isaac is on the floor. Entering Friday's game, the Magic have a team-worst 112.9 defensive rating with Isaac off the floor.

Further, Jonathan Isaac's most often two-man pairing is with Cole Anthony. That duo has a 94.3 defensive rating when they are on the floor together and Anthony has a 111.9 defensive rating for the season this year. In the last five games with Isaac out, Anthony's on-court defensive rating has jumped to a team-worst 120.7.

That offers at least some hint to how impactful Isaac's defense can be. Everyone just needs the eye test often to see how Isaac can gobble up rebounds and defend the rim -- opponents shoot 45.2 percent at the rim against Isaac on 2.2 attempts per game according to Second Spectrum.

His defense is just unreal even after all these injuries. And it is almost impossible not to feel and invest in that impact with this team. And right now, that feels really important to keep.

Isaac's importance has never felt more important than it does right now. And it feels really hard to explore any kind of trade market for him right now to keep this team's defense afloat and constantly pressuring opponents.