The Magic, with a record of 21-31, remain just five games back in the loss column of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and most of the league doesn’t have a feel for what Orlando is going to do before the trade deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes.
While many in the organization feel pressure to make the playoffs this season, the Magic’s front office doesn’t appear to be under a playoffs-or-bust mandate. Despite being within an arm’s length of a playoff spot, the team could consider making moves with the long-term in mind.
Aaron Gordon‘s descending contract was designed to make him a more attractive trade piece. With the Mohamed Bamba–Jonathan Isaac looking like team’s frontcourt of the future, the 23-year-old combo forward, who’s best suited to play the four, may find himself on a new team. The Mavericks inquired on Gordon’s availability before pulling the trigger on Kristaps Porzingis, Lowe reports.
The Pacers had interest in signing Gordon to an offer sheet when he was a restricted free agent, though it’s unclear what Indiana’s position is on trading for talent before the deadline with star Victor Oladipo out for the year. Lowe speculates that the Jazz and Trail Blazers would be good landing spots for Gordon should Orlando ship him out.
The Magic would likely deal Terrence Ross, who will be a free agent after the season, for a future asset, Lowe adds, though he cautions that Orlando may not be able to get even a heavily-protected first-round pick for the swingman. If the team does deal Ross, it could be for a pair of second-round picks.
The Magic have to consider trading Nikola Vucevic, Lowe contends. The team drafted Bamba to man the five and with Vucevic’s looming free agency, Orlando will either have to sign him to a massive deal or watch him walk for nothing.
Lowe doesn’t anticipate a Vuvevic trade. though he touches on a pair of hypothetical deals with one involving Orlando shipping the big man to the Lakers for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Los Angeles’ first-round pick. The Lakers’ pick is expected to fall somewhere in the middle of the draft and that may not be more appealing than simply keeping Vucevic for the Magic’s front office.
The other hypothetical involves a swap of Ross and Markelle Fultz. While the deal would seem to benefit both the Sixers and Magic, it’s unclear whether Philadelphia would require an additional asset, such as a second-round pick. Lowe notes that Fultz’s injury and trade value remains a mystery.