Anthony Parker: Orlando Magic haven't done what they want to do

The Orlando Magic reached the playoffs and had a season worth celebrating. But that is not the mood as the team enters a critical offseason. The Magic still have work to do.
The Orlando Magic can claim a successful season in 2024. But there is still work to do to get where they want to go.
The Orlando Magic can claim a successful season in 2024. But there is still work to do to get where they want to go. / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It was a somber walk from the floor at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse back to the Orlando Magic's locker room following Game 7.

The team had laid it all on the floor and came up short. They would be headed home. There would be no tomorrow. And despite an 18-point lead in the second quarter (at the time the largest blown lead in a Game 7 in NBA history), the Magic ultimately could not overcome their shortcomings or a poor showing from Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs.

By the next day at the AdventHealth Training Center for the team's exit interviews, much of the depression of an elimination game loss was gone. The team was looking ahead to a bright future and looking back at all they accomplished this season.

There was certainly a promise too. That Game 7 would be a learning experience and that this is a team that would be back in the playoffs.

Everyone involved with the Magic celebrated the 2024 season. But everyone recognized, too, this was not the end of the road. This was just the beginning.

The Magic turned heads with their surprising playoff run. But nobody seems satisfied with the destination. This is still a part of the journey. And the Magic are aiming to do more throughout the whole organization.

"I think you hear people who talk about the game whether they are in other organizations or on TV talk about the growth of the team and exciting direction," Magic general manager Anthony Parker said on a recent episode of the Orlando Magic Pod Squad. "Obviously, we know internally coach [Jamahl] Mosley, Jeff Weltman, our players would be the first to tell you we haven't done what we want to do yet. We haven't arrived. Celebrating the progress but we're not done. We want to continue to get better. We are all individually doing our work, players, coaches and the front office staff as well."

And so began this critical offseason. The attention shifted from the players to the front office as they aim to improve the roster using their considerable cap room while still maintaining the foundations that led to this season's success and continuing to grow one of the youngest rosters in the league.

Anthony Parker will be at the center of a lot of those decisions as the general manager working with president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman.

It is expected to be an active offseason for the Magic. They are in an exciting position as a young improving team with tons of cap room. Most fans and NBA observers are expecting them to wield that considerable financial power to make improvements to the roster.

The Magic are expecting it too. The breakthrough to the playoffs, Parker said, will open up conversations that were previously closed to the team. The Magic can finally flex their advantages as a free agency destination—from the state's tax environment to the training center that is the envy of the league.

But it does not mean the Magic are going to spend wildly. Orlando knows it is building something and had a successful year. They are looking to build on top of what they accomplished in 2024.

"Anybody you bring on the team, you are going to have to address certain things and sacrifice others," Parker said on the Orlando Magic Pod Squad. "It's just like: What can we sacrifice and where and how do we continue to move this roster forward? The shooting thing, yes, we will have some internal growth. You saw the jump that Paolo [Banchero] took and Jalen [Suggs] took. But also we want to continue to add to how we play and how we get our advantage night in and night out."

This was a point Weltman made during exit interviews too.

He acknowledged what everyone feels that the Magic need to improve their shooting. That has been a lot of the focus for fans and a clear place the team needs to improve to boost their struggling offense. But Weltman was also quick to point out that Orlando was 14th in the league in three-point field goal percentage after Jan. 1.

The Magic are expecting internal growth on that front. And that is why the Magic seem to be staking out a more measured approach. They do not seem to want to reinvent the wheel. That might quiet the desire for some headline-making move this offseason.

Fans have often criticized Weltman for his methodical approach. Even with the opportunity to make some changes and additions, he and his staff seem confident in what they are building. They do not seem to want to spend just because they have the money.

It is all about adding to what the Magic are building.

"We can focus on us," Parker said on the Orlando Magic Pod Squad. "Jeff [Weltman] has always talked about step by step, not skipping steps, doing things the right way. But being aggressive if the opportunity comes. I think that's where we are.

"Our three best players were 22 and younger. Those guys have time to continue to grow. We still don't fully know what our team and our best players are going to look like. I think we'll continue to try to do the right things, be aggressive when it's necessary but also not at the expense of our ceiling and what we can ultimately be as a team."

In two weeks, everyone will begin to see how the Magic intend to implement this plan. Everyone will see what the Magic intend to do, whether that means making a trade on draft night for a veteran or what they do in free agency.

Orlando clearly has ambitions and a clear design for what the team wants to build. It is basking the glow of a successful season, but hungry to do more.

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The Magic know they have not arrived yet. They know there is still work to do.