Playoffs show Orlando Magic must run screaming from rumored target

The Orlando Magic need help in the backcourt, but D’Angelo Russell is not the answer.
Orlando Magic, Jamahl Mosley
Orlando Magic, Jamahl Mosley / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic need more offensive punch to take the next step. They were 22nd in offensive rating and 30th in 3-pointers made this season.

It did not stop them from making the playoffs, but the staple of a true title contender is being in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. Orlando was third on defense and should focus on improving its young roster this summer.

The Magic are getting crucial playoff experience. Nobody expected Paolo Banchero to lead them there as a 21-year-old. Six of Orlando’s top seven players in minutes per game this season are 25 or younger. The Magic need some veterans who can help them get to the next level.

It is not the best free-agent crop, but Orlando is projected to have significant cap space. They are rumored to be interested in signing D’Angelo Russell if he hits the open market. The 6-foot-3 guard had an outstanding season, but his recent play proves why the Magic should go nowhere near the former All-Star guard this summer.

Orlando Magic should steer clear of D’Angelo Russell in free agency

D'Angelo Russell averaged 18.0 points, 6.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game in 32.7 minutes per game during the regular season. He was arguably the Los Angeles Lakers’ third-best player and helped them reach the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.

Russell shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range and showed significant improvements. There was plenty of hype and expectations that things would be different in the playoffs.

Sadly, his postseason struggles have continued, showing he is not the kind of player to help a young Magic team get over the hump.

He is shooting just 32.6 percent in his three games against the Denver Nuggets and went scoreless in the biggest game of the Lakers’ season Thursday night. Los Angeles went down 3-0, and Russell was benched for the final 3:47 in Game 3 because he played so poorly.

The Magic have a young squad, that is eager to contend. Russell may help them win regular season games, but he does not boost their playoff ceiling. And that is ultimately what matters.

Russell has a 30-game playoff sample at this stage where he has averaged 13.9 points, 4.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game in 30.7 minutes per game. He has shot 38.3 percent from the field and 32.6 percent on his 3-point attempts.

The 28-year-old is in the middle of his prime and has shown zero signs of turning things around when it matters most.

The Orlando Magic have been linked to Klay Thompson, who helped the Golden State Warriors win four championships. They should look to add talent that raises their ceiling and floor.

Russell gives them some needed playmaking and scoring. It would help Orlando get back to the playoffs next season. But his production likely drops off in the biggest games.

The Magic are on the rise and will upgrade their roster this summer. Can they convince a marquee free agent to join them?

If not, expect the Magic to add depth and focus on internal growth. They could be a feared team as Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner enter their primes. The front office cannot make a massive mistake like paying Russell if they want to get there.