Orlando Magic offseason improvements will start with their own free agents

The Orlando Magic are finishing the season with the same group that started the year. They likely will not start next year with the same roster. And their decisions on how to evolve and grow will start with their own free agents.

Orlando Magic v Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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What the Orlando Magic will do with their free agents

Markelle Fultz

Markelle Fultz is still only 25 years old. He has had a resurgence in his career since his trade to the Orlando Magic. Fultz is one of the better ball handlers in the game and can penetrate a defense at will. He plays solid defense and has long arms to deflect passes and disrupt offenses. 

He has proven he is a rotational player in the league and showcased a bright future after his first season in Orlando. He thrived thanks to the change in scenery.

Despite that success, the ups and downs continued. Only eight games into the 2021 season, Fultz tore his ACL. He did not return until February of the following season. The Magic believe enough in him to sign him to a three-year, $50-million deal.

They retained him on a three-year, $50 million deal despite the injury. They believed in his leadership and point guard abilities. They were willing to wait out his recovery as they began to rebuild.

Orlando was betting on Fultz’s ability to overcome the adversity he has faced since he started his career. He continued to show promise in 2022 and further bounced back in the 2023 season, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage.

Fultz has not ben able to build on that success this year. He dealt with left knee tendinitis and struggled in his return. He has not been the same player.

He is averaging 8.1 points and 3.5 assists per game, which are both the lowest of his Magic tenure. His usage rate is down from the fourth-highest percentage last year to seventh this year. Jonathan Isaac shares the same usage rate as an off-ball power forward.

More than that, his poor shooting has cramped any space the Magic have to execute their offense. For a team that wants to compete for the playoffs, the lack of attention defenses give him is hurting the team's overall development.

Last season Fultz was at least willing to shoot wide-open threes and was beating teams with his midrange pull-up. He made 27 threes last season.

This year, Fultz has shot nine total threes and made one. He is shooting 12.5 percent from behind the arc, his worst percentage since his rookie season. He is passing up open opportunities. It makes it harder to play him.

The resurrection project of Fultz reestablishing himself as the former first-overall pick seems not to be a possibility anymore. Fultz’s inability to contribute to offensive spacing in the current NBA is difficult with the Magic’s roster. The team already has difficulty scoring the ball and teams are clogging the paint and double-teaming Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.

Orlando certainly has different plans moving forward this offseason. This young team will add a tertiary scorer who can handle the basketball and spread the floor. Wagner and Banchero are going to flourish if surrounded by elite shooters. They will both simultaneously breath a sigh of relief. 

Fultz will certainly end up on a new team after this offseason and will look to rebuild his value like he has done twice in his young career.

Nonetheless, the Magic have no option but to move on from their long-time point guard. It is hard to believe he has been in the organization for 5.5 seasons, but Orlando can find upgrades at his position. And the time for sentimentality appears over now that winning is a serious thing.