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

Gary Harris

Gary Harris has a skillset that the Orlando Magic desperately need.

He has shooting and perimeter defense. He can guard at an above-average rate and stretch the floor. Harris does not need the ball in his hands and still is effective on offense. The 3-and-D guard has been a solid contributor for Orlando the last four seasons. 

The unfortunate part of his time in Orlando is similar to Markelle Fultz. He cannot stay healthy.

In the last two seasons, he averaged 54.5 games per season. He missed one-third of the team's games. Harris is one of the most important complementary offensive pieces on the roster. The team struggles without him. 

Through 59 games this season, he has suited up for 36. If he can continue to contribute consistently to close out the season the Magic might consider bringing him back depending on his price point. 

But he will be 30 years old at the start of next season with a significant injury history.

Two years ago, Orlando re-signed Harris to a modest two-years, $26-million deal. If the Magic can retain Harris at a similar price point with only a two-year contract, it would be hard for the team not to consider bringing him back. 

Harris is beloved by the younger players on the team. He has been open about how he likes Orlando and the roster. He wants the chance to see a young team blossom into a contender as he did with the Denver Nuggets.

If he stays healthy and ends up being a major part of the team down the stretch it would make sense for both parties. 

The Magic have plenty of available money and roster flexibility. But looming max contracts are on the horizon for the talented young squad. If the front office wants to maintain flexibility and roster continuity, Harris would make sense. 

There will be competition for his backup 3-and-D position with returning young players Caleb Houstan and Jett Howard. They are both significantly taller than Harris and have the tools to be decent defenders.

The Magic may find it more valuable to give those young players a clearer path toward playing, especially as everyone's price tag gets higher.

Houstan is never afraid to shoot. If he can become consistent, he will permanently find his way into the rotation. 

Howard was a lottery pick for a reason. He can score in bunches and has shown flashes not only as a spot-up shooter but as a player who can score in isolation on the wing. At 6-foot-8 he can get to his spots and shoot over defenders.

Howard has been playing well in the G-League and will look to compete for playing time next season. 

Several impending free agents have a similar skillset to Harris but are younger and do not have the injury history he does. 

If Harris is willing to compete for playing time and wants to carry out the rebuild in Orlando, then there is a deal to keep him in Central Florida. It seems more likely the Magic will look to move on and put that money elsewhere and that Harris will look for greener pastures for playing time this offseason.

Older players need to find rosters that can showcase their value and why they continue to deserve contracts. Harris will certainly look for opportunities on the market and find a win-now team with less depth than the Magic. Orlando can upgrade the backup guard position who is younger and less of an injury threat.