Offseason Outlook: Orlando Magic

Guaranteed Contracts


Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (19th overall)
  • 2nd Round (49th overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $50,191,430
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary (including options), Cap Holds: $41,899,669
  • Total (not including draft picks): $92,091,099

2010 brought us The Decision. 2011 featured plenty of 'Melodrama. And in 2012, we were treated to the Dwightmare in Orlando. The Magic's 2011/12 season was dominated by Dwight Howard trade rumors, as the NBA's top center seemed to change his mind every few days about whether he wanted to be traded or remain in Orlando.

While some members of the Magic front office likely wouldn't have minded dealing Howard at the deadline and moving on from the entire situation, D12 eventually decided to waive his early termination option, locking him into another year in Orlando. So, welcome to the Dwightmare, Part II. With Otis Smith out and a new general manager on the way in, the Magic are contemplating how to move forward with Howard, but one thing seems clear: If the team doesn't get a firm commitment from Howard that he'll sign a long-term extension, it won't hesitate to find the best possible return for him in a trade.

If the Magic had the assets or the flexibility to bring in complementary pieces to play with Howard, the possibility of a blockbuster trade may not be looming over the offseason. But having used the amnesty clause already on Gilbert Arenas, the Magic don't have the opportunity to clear another bad contract in a single stroke. The team's first-round pick (19th overall) doesn't have much trade value, and the team's second-most tradable player, Ryan Anderson, will be a free agent in July.

Outside of a Howard trade, free agency seems like the team's best bet at bringing in more talent, but even on that front, options are limited. Assuming Jameer Nelson exercises his player option or negotiates a new deal with the club, the Magic figure to be at or over the salary cap line even before making a decision on J.J. Redick, whose $6.19MM salary is non-guaranteed. Orlando will probably have the $5MM mid-level exception at its disposal, but if Howard seems to be on his way out of town, either this offseason or next, it's unlikely that an impact player would be eager to sign with the Magic over other contenders.

The Magic's best chance at landing a significant return for Howard and accelerating their rebuilding process may have slipped through their fingers on Wednesday night, when Brooklyn failed to land the top pick in the draft lottery. The idea of a Howard/Anthony Davis swap likely would have appealed to both teams, and would've given Orlando a young, affordable potential superstar to cushion the blow of losing its own longtime star. But without Davis on the table, trade packages for Howard range from moderately appealing to entirely undesirable. The best of the bunch, if the Lakers were willing to put it on the table, is probably a deal centered around Andrew Bynum.

It may seem unfair or short-sighted to suggest that the Magic's entire offseason revolves around what happens with Howard, but it's a hard point to argue. If a trade is consummated, Orlando could potentially include a bad contract like Hedo Turkoglu's or Jason Richardson's and gain some cap flexibility as the post-Howard era begins. If Howard isn't traded, the Magic figure to do everything they can to build a championship contender around him. In my view though, that ship has sailed. I think the Magic should shop D12 this summer, take the best offer they get, and prepare to move forward with players who definitely want to be in Orlando, rather than endlessly trying to appease someone who can't make up his mind.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.


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