Orlando Magic add new mid-level free agent target, new free agency competition

The Orlando Magic have been connected to a lot of big names in free agency with their ample cap space. A new report from The Athletic has them in the running for a new mid-level prospect.
The Orlando Magic are going to be hunting for free agents throughout the salary spectrum. A new target has emerged.
The Orlando Magic are going to be hunting for free agents throughout the salary spectrum. A new target has emerged. / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic have a lot of opportunities ahead of them in this year's free-agent class.

The team is coming off a breakthrough season that saw them return to the Playoffs and force the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games. With a second-year star in Paolo Banchero, who made the All-Star team and showed out on the Playoff stage, there is certainly a feeling that people want to be a part of what the Magic are building.

That is the feeling president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has. It is why he is measuring what he can do this summer. With the tool of cap room—an estimated $32 million—the Magic are expected to be aggressive to address their needs this offseason.

For many, that has meant chasing big-name players.

Reporting has tied the Magic to former All-Stars like Paul George and Klay Thompson. Fans have dreamed about players like Malik Monk. Players who will net $20 million and be clear starters for the team.

Paolo Banchero has even highlighted publicly what the team needs in terms of a table-setter and playmaker. The Magic are not just looking for shooting; they are looking for someone who can make lives easier for their star players.

That is how the team clearly takes another step next year. It is now about finding the right move to get the team there.

The Magic are notoriously tight-lipped about what they are doing. Every piece of reporting on the Magic's free-agent plans—other than Weltman saying the team will stick to its north star and DNA during the team's exit interviews—has come from sources outside Orlando.

That includes the latest names to add to the Magic's free agent list.

Kelly Iko, the Houston Rockets reporter for The Athletic, reported that the Houston Rockets are likely going to be chasing some veterans, including adding the No. 3 pick to a trade package. He reports the Houston Rockets are at least monitoring what is going on with Donovan Mitchell (just as much as Orlando Magic fans appear to be monitoring the Darius Garland situation as everyone circles the Cleveland Cavaliers).

But that is not all. The Houston Rockets appear to be targeting Milwaukee Bucks forward Malik Beasley to add some floor spacing. Among the teams interested in the Florida State veteran are the Orlando Magic and Golden State Warriors.

The Magic are not just hunting for big fish. They will be trying to add to their roster. In all likelihood, the Magic are looking to make two additions this offseason—one starting-level $20-million-per-year player and then perhaps two players in the mid-level range. That could increase if the team declines the team option on Joe Ingles.

Malik Beasley brings a veteran shooter to the Orlando Magic

Malik Beasley undoubtedly checks a key box for the Orlando Magic: He is a shooting specialist.

Last year for the Milwaukee Bucks, Beasley averaged 11.3 points per game and made 41.3 percent of his 6.9 attempts per game. Both of those marks would lead the team among its starters and rotation players. Beasley is a career 38.5 percent 3-point shooter.

He shot 44.4 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and 38.7 percent on pull-up 3-point shots. Beasley is a potentially elite 3-point shooter. He will be in demand.

Beasley played in 79 games for the Bucks, starting in 77. He is still a capable starter, being part of a Bucks defensive group that was at least better than the team average—they had a 112.6 defensive rating with Beasley on the floor compared to a 115.0 defensive rating overall.

Beasley made just $2 million on a one-year deal with the Bucks last year. His play for Milwaukee likely earned him some credibility. But because he may not get much more than the mid-level exception (the non-taxpayer mid-level exception is $12.9 million) or maybe even the room exception ($8.0 million).

But unlike some of the other big-name free agents the Magic are chasing, there are a lot more teams that could likely offer Beasley a competitive contract. Beasley likely played well enough that he could have his pick of where to land—even staying with the Bucks.

It is no wonder that the Magic and Rockets would both be hunting him.

Reports confirmed the Orlando Magic's interest in D'Angelo Russell

Everyone has their focus on adding a high-priced starter. Malik Beasley would not fit that bill even if he can still play as a fifth-starter and an enhanced replacement for Gary Harris (who averaged 6.9 points per game and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc).

But Beasley would not bring the playmaking and offensive attack off the dribble that the Orlando Magic seem to need. They should be looking for more dynamic players. And then look to bring Beasley off the bench—regardless of what that might do for Jett Howard's development or potential role.

It is no surprise then that Iko added league sources told The Athletic the Magic are interested in Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell.

The Magic were connected to Russell by The Athletic's Los Angeles Lakers reporter, Jovan Buha, who said then that there was concern a team like the Magic could jump in and make an offer the Lakers could not match.

Russell is expected to decline his $18.6 million player option for the 2025 season. He is certainly looking for a salary north of $20 million and likely ranging closer to the $25 million per year range.

Russell averaged 18.0 points per game and 6.3 assists per game. He shot 41.5 percent from three on 7.2 attempts per game.

In terms of role, Russell would seemingly be someone who fits exactly what the Magic need. He can take over games as a primary ball-handler—he had five games of 30 or more points and 18 games of 25 or more points last year—but can also play off the ball as a floor spacer and shooter. Russell hit on 43.3 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.

The only question would be how he fits with the group and whether he can be a good defensive complement to Jalen Suggs at the guard spot. But there are a lot of things that make sense about Russell to help boost the team—he has been a scorer at every stop along his journey.

It is no surprise that the two continue to get connected to each other.

The Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic are competing to fill out their roster

The bigger takeaway from Kelly Iko's reporting is that the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets are at similar stages in their development and are competing for players like Malik Beasley to fill out their roster.

The Rockets essentially had the Magic's 2023 season last year. Houston was the last team eliminated from the Western Conference playoff picture and finished at 41-41. The Rockets are likely going to be trying to find veterans to fill out their roster and get over the hump to make the kind of leap the Magic made in 2024.

That means Orlando has to be wary of how the team fills out its roster. The Magic could be competing with the Rockets for a player like Beasley.

Houston has $121.7 million in guaranteed salary for the 2025 season. That would likely put them in the $15-20 million range in cap room. They do have some money to spend, too. And so the Magic and Rockets are going to be fighting for the shooters good young teams need to take that all-important next step.

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Right now, teams are putting their free agency lists together. The Magic have some clear targets and are going to be involved in a lot of players as they look to add to their roster.