2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Orlando Magic

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Orlando Magic.


Salary Cap Outlook

The Magic currently have approximately $96MM in guaranteed money on their books for 2020/21. That figure would increase to over $102MM if they use this year’s first-round pick and sign last year’s first-round pick, Chuma Okeke. And it would jump to nearly $120MM if Evan Fournier opts into the final year of his contract.

Whether or not Fournier returns, Orlando is unlikely to have any cap room available this offseason, but the team shouldn’t have to worry about going into tax territory. The Magic would have the full mid-level exception ($9.3MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.6MM) available, but almost certainly wouldn’t use both in full if Fournier is back.

Our full salary cap preview for the Magic can be found right here.


Roster Decisions To Watch

Options:

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

  • None

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:


2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 15 overall pick

Second Round:

  • No. 45 overall pick

The Magic were one of the few NBA teams that didn’t trade either their first- or second-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft. They’ll pick right in the middle of each round.


Three Key Offseason Questions

1. What’s the plan for Evan Fournier?

Before the coronavirus pandemic complicated the financial outlook for teams and players around the NBA, Fournier appeared likely to turn down the $17MM option on his contract in order to test the open market this offseason.

While $17MM is a lot of money to pass up, the stars seemed to be aligning for Fournier — he’s still in his prime (he turns 28 in October), plenty of teams were expected to be in the market for wings, and the Frenchman had put up some of the best numbers of his career, including 18.8 PPG on .470/.406/.820 shooting prior to the league’s hiatus.

However, an illness put a dent in Fournier’s production during the seeding games and the playoffs, and with the salary cap no longer expected to increase, the prospect of finding a team willing to pay him in the neighborhood of $17MM per year on a multiyear deal suddenly looks a whole lot more challenging.

That doesn’t mean Fournier is a lock to pick up his option. He and the Magic could work out a new multiyear contract that significantly increases his overall guarantee without necessarily assuring him of $17MM (or more) per year. A year ago, for instance, Jonas Valanciunas passed on a $17.6MM option in favor of a three-year contract worth $15MM per year, giving him more long-term security.

But the Magic, having already invested long-term in Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, may be reluctant to do the same for another key contributor to a roster that has finished in the middle of the pack in each of the last few seasons. If that’s the case, Fournier’s safest bet would be to opt in and try his luck on the 2021 market.

If Fournier opts in, there’s nothing stopping the Magic from gauging his value on the trade market. He’d be on an expiring contract and his pre-hiatus play in 2019/20 was impressive — he could appeal to a team looking to add a complementary scorer on the wing.

2. Will the Magic extend Markelle Fultz or Jonathan Isaac?

While it remains to be seen if Fournier is part of the Magic’s long-term plans, all signs point to the team being willing to invest in Fultz and Isaac as cornerstone pieces. It’s just not clear whether that will happen this offseason, when both members of the 2017 draft class become eligible for rookie scale extensions for the first time.

Fultz, who has experienced a pretty unusual career trajectory for a No. 1 pick so far, stayed healthy for the first time in 2019/20 and flashed signs of the upside that made him the first overall choice three years ago. His ability to break down a defense and set up his teammates was on display in Orlando, as he averaged 12.1 PPG and 5.1 APG, but there’s still plenty of work to be done on his jump shot (.267 3PT%).

At age 22, Fultz still has plenty of growth potential. The Magic will have to determine how confident they are that he’ll continue to improve, how much they’re willing to bet on that growth, and whether Fultz will be willing to forgo restricted free agency in favor of an early extension.

If Orlando bets right on Fultz, it could mean getting him on a team-friendly extension as he blossoms into a star, which would change the long-term outlook of the franchise. On the other hand, investing big money in him now and then watching his development curve flatten would hamstring the organization’s spending ability going forward.

It’ll be a tough decision, so it will be interesting to see how high the Magic are willing to go — ESPN’s Bobby Marks suggests the team should wait for Fultz’s restricted free agency unless he’s open to signing a deal that starts in the neighborhood of his 2020/21 salary ($12.3MM).

As for Isaac, the blossoming Defensive Player of the Year contender would’ve been a more logical candidate for a rookie scale extension if he were healthy. Instead, he’ll be recovering from an ACL injury that’s expected to sideline him for the entire 2020/21 season, so the Magic will have to evaluate his recovery before making any major commitment.

The injury doesn’t mean Isaac can’t sign an extension in the coming months. We’ve seen players like Klay Thompson and Kristaps Porzingis get lucrative new long-term deals while recovering from ACL tears of their own, and all indications are that the Magic want Isaac to be a part of their future. Unlike Thompson and Porzingis though, Isaac isn’t a lock for a maximum-salary offer, so some negotiation will be required if the two sides are going to come to an agreement before the ’20/21 season begins.

3. Will Aaron Gordon be on the trade block?

Prior to Isaac’s injury, Gordon seemed like one of the NBA’s most logical offseason trade candidates. He and Isaac overlap positionally, his name has come up in previous trade rumors, and his contract gets more favorable with each passing year due to its declining annual value ($18.1MM in 2020/21; $16.4MM in ’21/22).

Now that Isaac will be out for the season though, Orlando figures to be less motivated to move Gordon. With the power forward position to himself in ’20/21, the 25-year-old could be primed for a career year, which would be a win-win situation for the Magic — not only would they enjoy the benefits of his production, but Gordon could increase his trade value ahead of the ’21 deadline and/or offseason.

Gordon’s athleticism and defensive versatility make him a tantalizing trade target, and if there’s a team willing to give up an appealing package for him this offseason, the Magic should certainly listen. Of the players the team would be open to moving, Gordon is the most intriguing, and he represents Orlando’s best chance to acquire an impact player who would be a better fit for the current roster.

If there are no favorable offers out there this fall or winter, however, the Magic shouldn’t be in any rush to shake things up. Gordon is in position to boost his value next season, and still has two years left on his contract, so unless something goes wrong, the club will have more opportunities to cash in its stock down the road.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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7 thoughts on “2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Orlando Magic

  1. hiflew

    The Magic are in that crazy limbo where thy are too good to be in line for a top spot and too bad to be in real playoff contention. It’s a tough spot to be in especially since it doesn’t look like they got a real superstar player out of the past few year rebuild. Fultz, Bamba, Isaac all look like decent NBA players, but none of them are the type of player to build a team around.

    They have come off a few bad years, so I think it is premature to suggest a full scale rebuild. But I think they might be able to do a smaller rebuild. With Aaron Gordon, instead of trading him for draft picks, maybe trade him for a couple of younger players that have not made an impact yet. Much like the Anthony Davis deal for the Pelicans, albeit on a smaller scale.

    They could also go the weird route and trade for Chris Paul. Now hear me out before you call me crazy. Paul could mentor Fultz and maybe teach him to be the superstar he was thought to be. This works money wise

    Magic get
    Chris Paul
    Terrance Ferguson

    Thunder get
    Aaron Gordon
    Terrence Ross
    Al-Farouq Aminu

    It gives the Magic the star/mentor they really need. It also gives the Thunder enough talent to continue to compete with their young team that learned how to win this year. Or if they wanted to go into a full teardown, the players received would be a lot easier to move in deals than Paul.

    Am I crazy?

    • x%sure

      Magic now shorthanded on the frontline. OKC has three or so cheap bigs to include instead of Ferguson.
      Gordon isn’t on the block anymore. When they had Vooch and Isaac it was ideal, and Gordon made it messy. Now he is needed.

      Shouldn’t Augustin be good for mentoring? Assuming Fultz is mentorable; he may not be. I & maybe you talked about I.Thomas for them, but they would not listen! Got Fultz.

      • hiflew

        Augustin is a FA and I operated under the assumption of him being gone.

        As far as front line guys, I was including Ferguson as one. He operated more as a 3 than a 2. Most of OKC’s big men contracts are now over. Gallinari, Noel, Muscala, Nader are all free agents this offseason. Unless they have options, I’m not 100% sure. Other than Adams, the Thunder have no one over 6’8″ to include in a theoretical deal. I picked Ferguson over Bazley and Roby because he was the best combination of remaining potential, OKC’s willingness to include, and need for a change of scenery.

        As far as Gordon goes, ANYONE is on the block if the right offer comes along. Gordon might be needed, but this team’s ceiling as constructed is a 6 seed. They need something and Gordon just isn’t it.

        • x%sure

          Gordon should try his game somewhere else, but I would be surprised if the conservative GMs make that decision.
          They should be wanting keep Augustin no matter what!

  2. DeathbyDeathwest

    Aaron Gordon is 100% “on the trade-block,” but Isaac’s injury give the Magic a reason not to be in a rush about it, “like they were” when Isaac was tearing it up in the bubble. Folks here were suggesting the Magic would trade him to GSW for the $17.5mil trade exception and a bag of beans.

    That said, Gordon is in the conversation for biggest current disappointment in the NBA right now alongside the Westbrook trade for Houston and Paul George at LAC.

    Depending on the league’s return to the bubble vs Isaac’s recovery and the historical cheapness of Orlando, Gordon will be gone at the next trade deadline or the draft-day after that.

    They should trade Fournier too – the Fultz-Isaac window, assuming it’s real, won’t be opening for at least two and probably 3 years. Build toward that.

  3. Lionel Muggeridge

    Centering the team round Vucevic will get you nowhere in the end. Time to trade him and move to a more fast paced and athletic squad with the likes of Gordon, Fultz, Bamba etc at the front

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