2024 NBA Offseason Preview: Orlando Magic

After spending a full decade alternately mired in mediocrity (in the good years) or dwelling in the NBA’s cellar (in the bad), the Magic had a breakthrough in 2023/24.

Orlando’s 47-35 record was the team’s best mark since Dwight Howard was on the roster (2010/11), and while the club didn’t win a playoff series, its three first-round wins vs. Cleveland topped its combined postseason win total (two) across the previous 11 years. It was the second straight year in which the Magic made major strides — after winning just 22 games in 2021/22, they boosted that total to 34 in ’22/23 and 47 this past season.

The good news for the Magic is that their young core is largely responsible for that surge up the standings. Orlando’s top three scorers in 2023/24 were Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Jalen Suggs, all of whom will still be on their team-friendly rookie scale contracts in ’24/25. The franchise is in position to keep those players under team control for years to come.

The bad news? Well, “bad” may be an overstatement, but Wagner and Suggs are due for rookie scale extensions this offseason, with Banchero becoming eligible for a rookie scale extension of his own in 2025. That means the young core will be getting a lot more expensive over the next couple years, and the front office still needs more talent to become a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

The Magic have managed their books well – no one made more than $17.4MM last season and there’s no guaranteed money on the cap beyond 2026 – so they’re in position to comfortably extend those cornerstone players. But the rising cost of the roster going forward means the 2024 offseason will be a critical opportunity for the Magic to continue making meaningful upgrades while they still have cap room available to do so.

The Magic’s Offseason Plan

Let’s start with the Magic’s cap outlook. They only have about $66MM on their books for the seven players on guaranteed contracts for 2024/25, but we can probably add Jonathan Isaac‘s $17.4MM non-guaranteed salary to that total.

Although Isaac – who appeared in just 11 games across the three previous seasons for health reasons – didn’t play big minutes in 2023/24, he suited up for 58 games and provided a reminder in his limited role (15.8 MPG) of why he was considered a future Defensive Player of the Year contender early in his NBA career. I can’t see him being waived, given the impact he’s capable of making on defense even as a part-timer.

Adding Isaac’s salary and a $3.6MM cap hold for Orlando’s first-round pick (No. 18) brings us to just over $87MM. Throw in three minimum-salary cap holds to get to 12 roster spots and the Magic end up with about $50MM in potential cap room.

Now, it’s important to clarify that Orlando would have to make certain sacrifices to fully take advantage of that $50MM. Joe Ingles ($11MM) and Moritz Wagner ($8MM) have team options; Caleb Houstan has a non-guaranteed salary ($2MM); and the Magic may want to try to re-sign free agents like Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, and Goga Bitadze, all of whom would have cap holds to account for (ranging from $25.5MM for Fultz to just $2.1MM for Bitadze).

While turning down those options and renouncing all those free agents would get the Magic to $50MM in room, I’m skeptical they’ll go that route, given how inclined they’ve been in recent years to retain their own players.

But let’s say the team guarantees Houston’s salary, brings back one (not both) of Fultz or Harris for a deal in the range of the full mid-level ($12-13MM), declines the Ingles and Wagner options in the hopes of bringing them back for the veteran’s minimum and $8MM, respectively, and reaches a new agreement with Bitadze. That could still leave Orlando with upwards of $36-37MM in cap room to use, since Houston’s salary and Bitadze’s cap hold are so modest and Wagner and Ingles could be re-signed after the room is used up.

This is a roundabout way of saying that even if the Magic opt for continuity, they should still be in position to open up enough cap room to splurge on at least one starter-caliber player, and perhaps multiple rotation pieces.

Orlando has been mentioned as a possible Paul George landing spot, but that feels like a long shot. I expect George’s decision to ultimately come down to the Clippers and Sixers. The Magic have also been linked to Klay Thompson, Malik Monk, and D’Angelo Russell, all of whom look to me like much more plausible targets.

As talented offensively as both Banchero and Wagner are, neither of them has been a consistent threat from beyond the three-point line (Wagner was solid in his first two seasons but plummeted to 28.1% in ’23/24), which means the Magic would ideally surround them with two or three shooters. Suggs (39.7%) and Wendell Carter (37.4%) set new career highs in three-point percentage this past season, but Orlando’s roster isn’t exactly loaded with marksmen. Adding shooting will be the top priority this summer for a team that ranked dead last among 30 NBA teams in three-pointers made per game (11.0) in 2023/24.

Thompson, Monk, and Russell aren’t perfect players. Thompson has lost a step since his prime years due to his age (34) and a pair of major leg injuries; Monk’s three-point percentage has dropped over the past couple seasons and was all the way down to 35.0% in 2023/24; and Russell is a subpar defender whose weaknesses have been exposed in the last two postseasons.

Still, there are reasons to like all three fits. Thompson is one of the best shooters in NBA history and would bring championship experience to a relatively young team. Monk would add a new level of play-making to the Magic’s backcourt and would make them less reliant on Banchero and Wagner offensively. Russell is a talented scorer, a solid distributor, and – most importantly – an elite shooter (.415 3PT% on 7.2 attempts per game in ’23/24). Any of those three players would provide some offensive punch for an unbalanced Magic team that ranked third in defensive rating and 22nd in offensive rating.

Of the three, Thompson looks to me like the most intriguing fit, assuming he’s truly willing to leave Golden State. The Magic could potentially offer him an extremely lucrative short-term deal using their cap room, overpaying him for the next two seasons and then having his contract come off the books when he’s 36 and when Banchero’s next contract is about to take effect.

If Orlando strikes out on guys like Thompson and Monk, a few other free agents I view as possible fits include Tobias Harris, Gary Trent, and Buddy Hield. Again, given how good their defense already is, the Magic don’t necessarily need to be targeting two-way impact players like OG Anunoby or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They can afford to add a below-average defender if the trade-off on offense is strong enough.

If free agency doesn’t yield the type of upgrade the Magic are looking for, turning to the trade market would be a viable option. Orlando controls all of its future first-round picks, as well as the Nuggets’ 2025 first-rounder (top-five protected), so the club could put together a strong offer that includes multiple valuable draft assets without mortgaging its future at all.

While determining how the Magic will use their cap room is a more fun subject for speculation, it’s worth stressing that trying to workout extensions for Wagner and Suggs will also be a crucial part of the team’s offseason. Those negotiations could be tricky — both Wagner and Suggs are valuable assets, but neither is the sort of player who is a slam dunk for a maximum-salary offer, so they won’t necessarily get done early in July like Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, and LaMelo Ball did a year ago.

Of the two players, Wagner is closer to max-worthy, and it wouldn’t shock me if Orlando ultimately puts that offer on the table for him. Something that comes in a little below the max (say, $175MM over five years) isn’t out of the realm of possibility either. Suggs likely won’t be in line for that sort of payday, but he substantially improved his value by making an All-Defensive team and raising his shooting percentages in year three. I could see the former No. 4 overall pick getting into the nine figures (ie. $100MM+) on a long-term extension.

Salary Cap Situation

Guaranteed Salary

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Jonathan Isaac ($17,400,000)
  • Caleb Houstan ($2,019,699)
    • Houstan’s salary will become guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 30.
  • Total: $19,419,699

Dead/Retained Salary

  • None

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

Restricted Free Agents

  • Chuma Okeke ($7,399,732 qualifying offer / $15,800,139 cap hold): Bird rights
  • Total (cap holds): $15,800,139

Two-Way Free Agents

Note: Because he has finished each of the past two seasons on a two-way contract with the Magic, Harris’ qualifying offer would be worth his minimum salary (projected to be $2,093,637). Schofield is no longer eligible to sign a two-way contract and would also have a qualifying offer worth his minimum salary (projected to be $2,244,249). Those offers would each include a small partial guarantee.

Draft Picks

  • No. 18 overall pick ($3,639,120 cap hold)
  • No. 47 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • Total (cap holds): $3,639,120

Extension-Eligible Players

  • Wendell Carter (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible as of October 1.
  • Markelle Fultz (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible until June 30.
  • Gary Harris (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible on June 30 (one day only).
  • Caleb Houstan (veteran)
  • Jonathan Isaac (veteran)
  • Jalen Suggs (rookie scale)
  • Franz Wagner (rookie scale)

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, these players are eligible for extensions beginning in July.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Other Cap Holds

Note: The cap holds for these players are on the Magic’s books from prior seasons because they haven’t been renounced. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.

Cap Exceptions Available

Note: The Magic project to operate under the cap.

  • Room exception: $8,006,000
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