Cavaliers’ playoff loss could open up unique opportunity for Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Seven
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Seven / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Once the Cavaliers got a good look at the trio of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley, they felt like they were only one piece away from building a great team. In the summer of 2022, they went all in on Donovan Mitchell, hoping that he would be that player. 

Since then, the Cavaliers have put together two successful regular seasons but did not bring any real playoff success to Cleveland. In their first playoff run, they were embarrassed by the New York Knicks, and this year, they barely managed to beat the Magic only to be knocked out of the playoffs by the Celtics in five games. 

This loss may have serious repercussions for the team, as they will most likely have to break up the duo of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. 

Mitchell is extension-eligible and has not made a decision yet. If he does not extend, the Cavaliers could either trade him or risk losing him for nothing. Considering what they gave up to get him, the latter would be disastrous. Even if he extends, all is not well in Cleveland, however. Shams Charania suggested that if Mitchell extends, Garland will likely want out.

There is a pretty good chance that a high-level guard becomes available for the Magic this summer

The Magic need some backcourt help. Ideally, they would find a guard who can orchestrate the offense, knock down threes, and hold his own defensively. You have to work with which players are available, however, and the Magic should definitely keep an eye on the situation in Cleveland. 

If Mitchell is the one becoming available, they could have the chance to land a high-level scorer who can add some playmaking and shooting to the mix. He could theoretically work next to Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Jalen Suggs, but there will be plenty of competition. 

On ESPNS’s Get Up, Brian Windhorst said that the Lakers and Nets are already ready to make offers. The Magic are not under any pressure to trade for a big-time player like Mitchell, and getting into a bidding war over him just doesn’t seem worth it. They should have plenty of options to improve the roster otherwise. 

Garland would arguably be the better fit on the Magic anyway. He is the truer point guard between the two and that is what the Magic need. The 24-year-old is a great passer, talented scorer, and solid three-point shooter. In his All-Star season—the last one he played without Mitchell—he averaged 21.7 points on efficient shooting, 3.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists, and 1.3 steals. 

He could be a fitting third option next to Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner while allowing Jalen Suggs to play his more natural position as the shooting guard. Plus, the Magic should have no problem making up for any defensive issues on his part, and he fits the team’s timeline well. 

The Magic should be in no rush to make a trade 

Garland is on a big contract, however, with an average salary of $39,446,090 over the next four seasons. That combined with extensions for Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, and Paolo Banchero would make for a very expensive team. So, the Magic would have to be absolutely sure that this would be the move to push them to the next level. 

While the Cavaliers’ demise might present a unique opportunity for Orlando, there is no reason to make a trade just to make a trade. The three main guys on the Magic’s roster are only 22 and 21 years old. Expecting them to be a real contender as early as next season probably wouldn’t be fair. 

For now, it might make more sense to use all the cap space the Magic have available and bring in some three-point shooting and playmaking to improve the roster without accelerating the timeline too much.