Full disclosure, it was time to blow up the Orlando Magic for a while, especially considering the trio of Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic have been together since 2014 and only have two playoff appearances. playoffs to show.
But before you get into their real world situations, you’ve got to give Magic this: They’ve given this trio a good chance. Few teams would give their main core almost seven years to get it right, before switching to something else. The Magic, even through changes in the front office and the coaching staff, gave it a good roll-out to see if anything gets unearthed over time.
This is not the case, but A + for the effort and dedication.
The challenge of finding a good job for Nikola Vucevic
So now is the time for CEO John Hammond to look in the mirror and realize that changes are needed, not changes in the margins. The whole script needs to be redone, and it unfortunately starts with one of the best offensive centers in the NBA, Nikola Vucevic.
Finding a trade for Vucevic is much easier said than done, despite the 30-year-old playing the best basketball of his NBA career. Why? It starts with his contract.
Vucevic is earning a substantial $ 26 million this season, which means any team trading for him will have to return a big chunk of contracts in return. With Vucevic being 31 before the start of next season, it would seem logical to assume his best fit would be on a contender. Yet many applicants just don’t have big mobile contracts that don’t already play a central role.
Sure, you can tinker with multiple contracts to match the pay and then spread out a combination of young players and draft picks, but that too seems difficult given that top teams have essentially traded pretty much anything that looks like assets. long-term. all-in on now.
In Los Angeles, the Lakers gave up their future for Anthony Davis, and the Clippers did the same for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Milwaukee Bucks gave up their future for Jrue Holiday and the Brooklyn Nets gave up theirs for James Harden. The Utah Jazz do have assets, but they just handed Rudy Gobert $ 205 million, indicating that they are not looking to change that position. The same can be said of Philadelphia, which shouldn’t be leaving Joel Embiid anytime soon.
So where does that leave Vucevic? You’ll need to explore trading with lower playoff teams who still have their draft picks and the right mix of contracts to send. But even in this category, locating a profession is not without challenges.
The Pacers already have a big game initiator who is prone to offense at Domantas Sabonis, so it would seem counterintuitive to take the ball away from him by acquiring Vucevic, another player who can create for others.
The Knicks, Suns, Nuggets, Hornets and Heat either already have their center of the future or they are at a stage in their development where they are not looking to face players of Vucevic’s age.
So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Boston Celtics.
Via Gordon Hayward’s signing and trade deal last summer that sent Hayward to Charlotte, the Celtics have a TPE (Traded Player Exception) worth around $ 28.5 million.
Vucevic’s $ 26 million would be a terribly comfortable fit in this TPE, although a few issues remain.
Above all, does Vucevic want to go to a team where he will undoubtedly play a lesser role than he currently has with Orlando? The All-Star currently scores 24.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, and going on a team with Jayson Tatum (26.0 points), Jaylen Brown (25.5 points) and Kemba Walker (17.0 points), it stands to reason Vucevic just won’t have the same kind of offensive opportunities.
Assuming Vucevic is a game, another hurdle comes in. Does Boston have enough to give back in a trade? While the Celtics won’t have to match wages with Orlando, they will need to match value. The Celtics will need to move a set of draft picks and young players, but most of their recent draft acquisitions are role players at best. Could the Magic even bite on an offer made up of Romeo Langford, Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith?
There is no doubt that Vucevic is attractive as a player. But finding the right suitor, and getting the right suitor to deliver the right return, could prove to be a challenge for the Magic.
Gordon could be easily moved
Aaron Gordon’s experience in Orlando was a twist. From striker played out of position to getting inconsistent minutes, to looking like a future All-Star one month only to looking like a marginal starter the next day, the Orlando Magic and Aaron Gordon probably have to go their separate ways before no more madness develops.
Gordon still has believers in the league. He’s only 25, is statistically productive, and has strong defensive skills that were mostly wasted in Orlando.
His $ 18.1million is easier to pay, and unlike Vucevic, Gordon is young enough to be transferred to an up and coming squad. While he too would cost a young player or a few picks just by being interesting for more teams, those deals should make it easier to find Hammond’s office.
Gordon, who can kick off the offense from the dribble and fill out the stats sheet, is likely to be targeted as a guy who will play the role of third or fourth goalscorer in a good mid-level team looking to progress through the years. to come up.
Teams like the Bulls, Nuggets and Wizards, who already have ball-dominant players on their rosters, could be interesting landing points for the seven-year veteran.
Of the top three, Gordon should be the easiest to find.
Fournier can decide his own future, and that’s bad news for the Magic
Evan Fournier, 28, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, when his five-year, $ 85 million contract, signed in 2016, will end.
Fournier’s pending free agency is a big blow to the Magic, as the business value of any upcoming free agent is generally low.
The Magic’s saving grace is that they currently have a career best year for the Frenchman, who averages a career-high in points (19.1), assists (3.9) and efficiency (TS% of 61.2). This type of production could force interested teams to try to trade for him now, in order to get the inside track during the offseason to re-sign him.
That said, the fact that Fournier can decide where to go is not something to be underestimated. Players appreciate the freedom to choose, and Fournier will be no exception, especially after the year he is enjoying.
If the Magic were interested in re-signing him for himself, and thus keep him until the end of the season, they could be burned by his departure without them getting any compensation. As such, finding the best deal imaginable as the 2021 NBA trade deadline approaches should be a priority for the Magic.
And really, that logic should be applied to most of the players on the roster. Terrence Ross, Al-Farouq Aminu, James Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams are also expected to have a strong presence in the commerce market.
Orlando has done what he can with the current core, and with injuries to Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, this might be the best time to break everything and build a young core over the next couple of years. Then hopefully this one will bring better results.