Any guard who can shoot will get connected to the Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams with money to spend in free agency this summer. That is why everyone is expecting them to go after whatever guard available who can shoot.
The Orlando Magic are going to get connected to every shooting guard available in the free agent market. The latest comes from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Orlando Magic are going to get connected to every shooting guard available in the free agent market. The latest comes from the Los Angeles Lakers. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic are still focused on their playoff push and improving whatever seeding they can get. They are focused on piling up wins and making the most of this runaway success of a season.

Still, the ever-present creep of what comes next is always present. The Magic are in the hunt for homecourt advantage. And a Playoff loss, even if it is the expected and favored outcome, will still lead to questions of: What is next? How does this team get better?

There is plenty to enjoy in the moment, but these questions and concerns are already swirling. Everyone is thinking about how to make the team better.

And the Magic should have the tools and the attraction as a newly minted Playoff team to go get a big free agent if that is what they want to do.

Orlando is rightly focused on the present and seeing what this team can do. And the Magic are notorious for keeping their plans very quiet. A lot of the noise about the Magic in free agency or the transition window comes from outside the City Beautiful.

But that has not stopped everyone else from speculating what the Magic will do. And there has already been plenty of speculation.

Essentially if you are a free agent guard who can shoot, the Magic are in the hunt for you -- and that could even date back to the trade deadline when the Magic were among the rumored suitors for Buddy Hield before he arrived in Philadelphia.

The Athletic's Jovan Buha added another name to the potential free agent list for the Magic. One Magic fans had already been debating the pros and cons of acquiring.

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell is a free agent this summer. He would undoubtedly help the Magic fill a ball-handler need and give them a potentially spurty shooter who can comfortably create his own shot and hit from three.

There is clearly a fit there.

This is not the first time the Magic have been conneted with Russell as a free agent or in a trade. And with the Magic getting more serious about winning, adding a veteran guard like him makes sense.

At least for now, the concern about the Magic swooping in for Russell is coming directly from the Lakers' side as Buha related in a Q&A last week (section on Russell is about 52 minutes in):

"Orlando's the team," Buha said. "Orlando is the team that talking to people with the Lakers talking to people outside the Lakers, Orlando is the team that probably gives them the most concern in terms of a potential suitor. They're going to have around $60 million in cap space. They've also been linked to Klay Thompson. You could theoretically get both Klay Thompson and D-Lo with that $60 million cap space."

There is at least something that makes sense from a fit standpoint.

Russell is a combo guard who can run the point but can work off the ball. Entering Wednesday's games, he was averaging 18.2 points per game and 6.4 assists per game with 46.0/42.1/81.7 shooting splits.

It is hard not to look at those stats and not think about how Russell would be a good fit. Plus he is playing next to a ball-handling forward in LeBron James and finding success playing off him. There is at least proof of concept Russell could work with how the Magic like to play (ignore the defensive concerns for now).

The question is really whether the Magic are actually players for someone like Russell.

Buha estimates Russell is probably looking at getting a three-year deal worth $65-$75 million. There are still plenty of skeptics about him, especially concerning his defense. But Buha believes the Lakers will try to re-sign him and he said he has been impressed with his consistency and mentality as the season has gone on. Russell has been pretty consistent for the Lakers.

The real question then is are the Magic ready to spend $20-$25 million on a player like D'Angelo Russell, making him their highest-paid player and lining him up with Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero's expected rookie extensions (not to mention Jalen Suggs' extension too).

The other part of this equation is that there are not a lot of teams with cap room. The Magic are one of the few.

The Magic have $74.1 million in guaranteed money committed to next year with an additional $17 million reserved for Jonathan Isaac's non-guaranteed deal and Joe Ingles' $11 million team option. Nor does that include a non-guaranteed deal for Caleb Houstan or potential free agent decisions on Gary Harris and Markelle Fultz.

The Magic could have approximately $66.9 million in cap space before including their draft pick. But functionally, the Magic are probably really looking at somewhere near $38.9 million in cap room and perhaps a bit more.

With the Magic set to give Wagner and Suggs' extensions this summer before their rookie contracts expire and the Magic have to cough up some cash to retain them.

Orlando's period of excess cap room is coming to an end. And with the Magic now competing for homecourt advantage, the winning window is open and the Magic are going to have to shore up the roster to maintain and grow their place.

That is why everyone around the league is expecting the Magic to push in for a big free agent or make a trade using that cap space. Russell is not the only shooter that has been tied to the Magic.

There have been persistent rumors tying Klay Thompson to the Magic throughout the season. Whether that is Thompson posturing to get the contract he wants from the Golden State Warriors or some actual interest, nobody knows.

But there has been professional dot-connecting that amounts to something -- the Magic need shooting and some veteran know-how, why not go after one of the greatest shooters in NBA history?

Magic fans have also coveted Malik Monk from the Sacramento Kings. The Kings do not have full Bird Rights on Monk and are limited on what they can offer him while going over the cap this offseason. The Magic are potentially a threat to swoop in for him.

Of course, almost all of these rumors are coming from outside the Magic. Even this Russell rumor is couched as the Lakers are worried about the Magic being interested.

Orlando undoubtedly needs shooting. That is the biggest need for the team. And so the Magic should be looking at every major shooter to help fill that need -- and should consider bringing back Harris for that skill too.

And everyone senses the biggest need for the Magic is at guard. With Jalen Suggs, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter firmly placed in the starting lineup (we can address the Carter questions later), the only spot left to fill is that swing guard or point guard position.

With so much opportunity and now an attractive roster and place in the Eastern Conference hierarchy, the Magic could throw their weight around a bit more. That is more of what this means than anything else.

Next. Magic Important duos 04.01.24. Who are the Orlando Magic's most important duos?. dark

The rest of the league is waiting to figure out what the Magic will do.