Should the Orlando Magic Buy or Sell at Trade Deadline?

Should the Orlando Magic Buy or Sell at Trade Deadline?

by January 21, 2020 0 comments

With the NBA trade deadline less than a month away, the Orlando Magic find themselves with a difficult decision. On the one hand, Orlando is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference standings and poised to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. On the other, the Magic hold a below-.500 record of 21-23 and would have to go through one of the better teams in the conference if they did make the postseason.

So, do the Magic go for broke at the deadline or sell their best pieces, bringing forward a full-fledged rebuild?

For Orlando, their season has been defined by their superb defense and abysmal offense.

The Magic allow just 104.4 points per game, best in the NBA. They’re 12th in the league at opponent field goal percentage at 45.2 percent and 15th in opponent three-point percentage at 35.4 percent. They’re eighth in the league in blocks with 4.4 per game and 19th in the NBA with 14.3 per game. Overall, Orlando’s defense has been among the best in the league this season.

However, offensively, the Magic rank last in the NBA, scoring just 103.7 points per game. They’re 28th in the league with a 43.2 percent field goal percentage and 27th with a 33.3 percent three-point percentage. They are just 24th in the NBA with 22.4 assists per game. On the bright side, they are tied for best in the league with just 12.3 turnovers per game.

Orlando must now decide if their powerful defense is good enough for them to hold playoff aspirations, or if their porous offense has them wanting more.

Looking at what the Magic could even offer in a trade, Orlando holds the 17th overall pick. They also hold one second-round draft pick in 2020. As for players, Mo Bamba, who may be popular with fans, is expendable. He hasn’t lived up to his potential and the Magic could look to capitalize. While not obvious trade candidates, shooting guards Evan Fournier or Terrence Ross could become expendable if a better option appears. If teams are willing to take on D.J. Augustin, Markelle Fultz’s ascendance makes him expendable.

So, should the Magic buy or sell?

Verdict: Buy

It’s unlikely the Magic are even willing to trade core players such as Fultz, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. Without moving those pieces, Orlando wouldn’t get back returns that could truly restart their franchise. A half sell-off while keeping your top stars makes no sense.

The Magic have already proven they can play crushing defense. They should be able to find pieces who could help them grow offensively as they keep their defensive prowess.

Orlando’s recent win against the Lakers shows they can handle top teams, but their poor offense has lead to inconsistency throughout the season. Adding play-makers and sure scorers should be a top priority for the Magic.

The Eastern Conference is wide open this season, and with some adjustments, the Magic could surprise. They should try to add to their offense rather than just starting over; they have the core to succeed.

So, who are some players they could target on the trade market?

Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari is one of the most high-profile players who are likely to be moved at the deadline. In the final year of his contract, the Oklahoma City Thunder could look to trade him rather than extend him. Gallinari is scoring 19 points per game this year on 43.8 percent shooting. He makes just over three three-pointers per game while racking up 5.6 rebounds per contest.

With Jonathan Isaac suffering a likely season-ending injury, Gordon has been forced to play small forward with Khem Birch starting at the four. While Birch is strong on defense, he is averaging just 3.9 points per game, on pace for the lowest of his three-year career.

Adding Gallinari would allow Gordon to move back to power forward. It would give the Magic another strong scorer who would boost their offensive numbers. While it would likely cost a first, the 17th overall pick is unlikely to find a player who offers Gallinari’s scoring potential.

Derrick Rose

Rose has had a career renaissance in 2019. In 37 games, the point guard is averaging 18.3 points per game on .503 shooting while dishing out 5.9 assists per game. At 31, Rose has looked like his former MVP self in his first year with Detroit.

However, with the Pistons out of the playoffs and seemingly nowhere to go, it’s likely the team looks to move their newest superstar. Rose is owed just $15 million over the next two seasons, meaning the Magic wouldn’t have to take on much cap space. Rose, unlikely Gallinari, wouldn’t be just a rental.

D.J. Augustin hasn’t been terrible this season, but he is averaging just 10.7 points on .393 shooting. He is making just over one three a game and dishes out 4.7 assists per contest. Augustin is also a free agent after this season.

Rose would provide Orlando with a veteran scorer at the top of his game to pair with their budding superstar in Fultz.

Markieff Morris

Another Piston could make a lot of sense for the Magic. While Morris is averaging just 11.2 points per game, he is shooting .403 from behind the arc, making almost two threes per game. He ranks top 30 in the NBA in three-point shooting.

Morris also wouldn’t cost a first-round pick that Rose and Gallinari would likely go for. He is making just over $3 million this season with a $3.6 million option for 2020-21. The Magic could look to hold onto Morris beyond this season if he impresses in Orlando.

Adding Morris would likely mean Gordon stays at the three. However, Morris’s shooting would open up lanes for Vucevic down low. The Magic would also have one of the bigger lineups in the league with Gordon at small forward. Morris isn’t the premier scoring threat that Gallinari and Rose are, but his ability from beyond the arc cannot be taken for granted.

Magic in the Playoffs

The Orlando Magic might be in a tough spot now, but they do have the pieces necessary to make a run to the playoffs. They should focus on buying pieces at the trade deadline in an effort to bolster their offense. If they can add more firepower to arguably the best defense in the league, the Magic could be a tough team to stop come the postseason.

Orlando just isn’t in a position for a rebuild. Fultz has just come to his own and the team locked up Vucevic and Terrence Ross over the summer. The Magic should be looking to build rather than tear it down.

As the Magic prepare for the second half of the season and beyond, they should be doing so with eyes on the postseason. If they remain complacent, it could be a quick out for Orlando.

With the proper additions, there’s no telling how magic this postseason can be for the team. (Get it?)

Dan Fappiano is a graduating senior at Central Connecticut State University. After college he hopes to begin a successful career in sports journalism. He can be at at fappianodan@gmail.com

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