Orlando Magic Trade Deadline: Point guard is the next need to fill

Every rumor involving the Orlando Magic has pointed to one inevitable truth: The Magic are looking for a point guard. The question is whether they strike a deal at the deadline or wait for the summer.
Kyle Lowry is among the names linked to the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline. Regardless of that rumor's accuracy, all signs point to the Magic hunting for a point guard.
Kyle Lowry is among the names linked to the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline. Regardless of that rumor's accuracy, all signs point to the Magic hunting for a point guard. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Markelle Fultz reminded everyone of what he is capable of through the first quarter of the Orlando Magic's loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday.

He was getting downhill and spinning past his defender for a quick layup at the rim. There he was, getting in the passing lane for a steal to spark a fast break where he put pressure on the rim for a foul.

And, yes, there was that 3-pointer that bounced all around the rim and in.

It was a reminder, especially with how poorly the Magic played to start the game, what a good change-of-pace, aggressive point guard can do. Fultz still shows glimmers of the player he can be and why he is important to the Magic as presently constructed.

Orlando still needs someone who can push the tempo and get downhill. As much as they love bigger players who can initiate, nothing replaces a point guard.

That is why Fultz still has so much value to the team. That is why so much focus is put on him and his role.

But Fultz still has a lot of questions about him. Everyone is needling every detail of his game, with the Magic thinking about the postseason and years ahead.

That 3-pointer he hit -- the one that rattled every part of the rim -- was his first make of the season and just his fourth attempt overall. It hints at the Magic's other big issue: their lack of 3-point shooting.

Orlando has a lot to improve upon to get to its next level. The Magic have to seek ways to improve.

It is why, with Fultz's future and fit uncertain, everything heading to Thursday's trade deadline has been focused on what the Magic will do at point guard.

If the rumors around the league are to be believed -- and there is a lot of smoke stoking those flames -- point guard seems like the positional need of attention. That is where the Magic have put their focus.

Nearly every trade rumor involving the Magic has dealt with the point guard position -- from the big moves, like going all-in for a player like Dejounte Murray; to the medium, like chasing after Malcolm Brogdon or Tyus Jones; or the small, like acquiring Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry, as Matt Moore of The Action Network reported over the weekend.

That latter report has since been refuted -- or clarified -- by Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, saying the Magic are not looking to trade for either veteran guard but could be interested in Lowry in the buyout market (there appears to be some legs there considering what a positive influence he was for the Heat before the trade).

The Magic are not likely trading for a wing unless it helps them defensively in addition to their 3-point shooting.

How did the Magic get here, and why is this the seeming obsession for the team? The position is unsettled.

It starts with the uncertainty surrounding Markelle Fultz.

Fultz has played in only 18 games this season -- averaging 9.2 points per game and 3.7 assists per game. The more significant issue is how his 3-point volume has dropped -- going from 1.5 per game last year to 0.3 per game this year. Fultz has only five 3-point attempts total.

Fultz did not have to be a marksman from three. But he needs to be a nominal threat.

For a Magic team that has one of the worst 3-point percentages, that has had a significant effect. The spacing on the floor is congested with Fultz on the floor even though he does his best to attack.

There are not many consistent options behind him.

Cole Anthony is essentially the backup point guard. But he has gone through a deep shooting slump, making only 34.9 percent of his shots and 18.2 percent of his threes in his last 16 games.

Orlando likes to be fudgy with its positions, though. Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner initiate a lot of sets. The team will use Jalen Suggs as a ball-handler. Even Joe Ingles helps coordinate and run the offense with the second unit.

Even though Orlando does not necessarily need a traditional pound-the-dirt, ball-dominant point guard, the team still needs a veteran guard to organize and initiate the offense. The team needs someone to take pressure off the rest of the offense and understand the game's rhythm.

This is why Fultz is still so valuable. And why point guard is such a critical need.

This is why there is smoke billowing.

This is a heavy point guard market. There are a lot of options to consider.

Orlando has the tools and pieces to make a run at Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray. There is certainly a lot of sense in that.

If the Magic want to push the pace on this rebuild, he would give them a potential third All-Star and another primary creator, albeit at a heavy price (likely multiple first-round picks in addition to big-salary players like Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter or Gary Harris).

The team could also make a run at a first-time starter like Tyus Jones.

The Washington Wizards guard has been an assist machine for the fast-paced Wizards. More impressively, he has limited his turnovers despite that pace. And he shoots better than 40 percent.

His size and defense are the biggest detractions for him joining the Magic. He is also a free agent this summer, making it possible for the Magic to sign him in the offseason rather than spend assets. Jones' price is coming down, likely only costing a player and second-round picks.

If the Magic need size, they could turn to Malcolm Brogdon. A sharpshooter who is a non-traditional point guard. His veteran IQ would be extremely valuable to one of the youngest teams in the league.

Then, there are the two fresh names mentioned. Both Paul and Lowry are veterans near the end of their careers. They would help the team with organization even if they are not long-term answers.

What is real and what is not will come to pass before the 3 p.m. trade deadline. But the lingering need remains. The Magic likely need a shooter next to Suggs in the backcourt. And they need someone to help them advance out of the first round in the next few years.

The Magic have a lot of needs to fill. The shooting need remains the biggest one.

But everything starts with their point guard position and having a guard who can help the team get shots consistently. That will help make a lot of things make sense. It is why Fultz still has value, even without the shooting element. It is also why the Magic may be ready to move on.

But it is clear where the Magic are putting their attention. Whether they make a deal at Thursday's trade deadline or wait for the offseason, point guard will be where the team makes its next big step.

Next. Trade Value Column 02.06.24. Orlando Magic Trade Value Column: From Sellers to Buyers. dark

The Magic will be looking to solidify the position as this transaction window begins -- whether that comes at the deadline or in the offseason.