30 Teams in 30 Days: Orlando Magic

2018-19 record: 42-40

The Orlando Magic have spent numerous years being one of the laughing stocks of the East, and their poor management decisions are a huge part of that. Think of: trading a rising star in Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka (someone who crowded their frontcourt even more), only to trade him for Terrence Ross (who is by no means bad, but not close to Oladipo), drafting Mo Bamba while having Nikola Vucevic and then acquiring Bismack Biyombo and Timofey Mozgov. And those are only the ones that are relevant for this year, because we can go way back and talk about all of their numerous failures. Recently, they’ve had a mixed bag of good and bad moves: acquiring Markelle Fultz in a low-risk, high reward type of deal, signing Michael Carter-Williams, waiving Mozgov, re-signing Khem Birch, but then also signing Vucevic to a huge deal, and Al-Farouq Aminu to a 3 year/$29 million contract. It’s still an improvement nonetheless, but it could be better. Last year, the Magic ended their regular season on a 20-8 record, getting to the playoffs as an 8th seed and even stealing Game 1 of the first round from the Raptors on the road. Sure, they lost the next 4 games, but they proved they can fight with their roster. Coming into this season, they’re basically running it back with the addition of Aminu and Fultz (depending on when and how he comes back). And let’s just say that they have an interesting roster to say the least…

Starting Lineup:

PG: D.J. Augustin

SG: Evan Fournier

SF: Al-Farouq Aminu

PF: Aaron Gordon

C:   Nikola Vucevic

  • They’re basically running it back, so it’s logical to have the same starting lineup (only change is Aminu, but seeing as he’s a better fit as a starter rather than a bench player in comparison to Isaac, and that he’s a veteran, I view it as logical as well; although, it wouldn’t surprise me if they start Isaac)
  • Expect Fultz to take over the starting point guard position if he plays well (seeing as he’s their long term piece at the position over Augustin)

When I say that the Magic have an interesting roster, I mean it in a nice way; they have pieces that I like, which are good players and/or solid pieces for the future: Terrence Ross (played well last season), Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Khem Birch, Amile Jefferson, Markelle Fultz on a team-friendly deal, D.J. Augustin, Jonathan Isaac, Michael Carter-Williams and Wesley Iwundu. Yet, they also have pieces that I’m skeptical of: Nikola Vucevic’s contract (4 years/$100), their clogged frontcourt of good players, and the signing of Aminu (contract and fit). To be quite honest, I wasn’t a fan of the Aminu signing at all; Al-Farouq is a type of player you sign if you’re a contender so he can be a key bench guy or a fringe starter. And considering the Magic already have two good young forwards that have showed potential to be decent at least (Jonathan Isaac and Wesley Iwundu), it was surprising to me that they even looked to sign him, ended up signing him and did it for a contract of bad value (3 years/$29 million).  Yes, the good outweighs the bad. But in a conference where you have teams that are contending and/or have a solid foundation for the future (Bucks, Raptors, 76ers, Heat, Pacers, Nets, Hawks, Knicks), you need to do better than that.

Considering that they’re basically running it back, I expect them to be the same as they were last season: a fringe playoff team at best. They’ll be battling along the 11th-8th (maybe 7th) seed, being a solid team not bad enough to get a good pick in the draft, but not good enough to contend, which is what I consider the worst position a team could be in the NBA. The best thing that Orlando will have to watch will be how Fultz plays after missing most of his first two years in the league, and being the protagonist of one of the most bizarre situations in NBA history (with all of his shoulder, changing his jump shot, yeah you get the idea), and how their young players develop (Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac notably, Iwundu, Mo Bamba, Khem Birch). Vucevic will still be good, but no matter what he does, his value won’t get to the $22-28 million a year that the Magic will be paying him. Aminu will be decent, and he’ll at least help to spread the floor a bit better and allow Gordon to play his original position (Power Forward), but won’t be a fit in my opinion. 

As far as potential deadline moves, I don’t see them being that active. The only guy I could maybe see them trading is D.J. Augustin (31 years old, 1 year/$7 million left on his contract), but even then that to me is a bit of a stretch (he’s been good for them, so I expect him to play out the year and leave in free agency or sign for a cheaper deal). Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be surprised. The other contracts they have are just bad for another team with a functioning brain to take on (Aminu, Fournier), and the other expiring deals are for young players that they shouldn’t trade or players without great value in the market (Iwundu, Carter-Williams and rookies). But hey, if you’re from Orlando and you would like to watch them because the Heat are too far away, get your tickets at Seatgeek. Seatgeek is an app that posts tickets from all over the web for any type of event (concerts, games of any sport, etc) at very affordable prices. It gives you a view from the seat you’re going to buy, and even has a color scale that shows you if you’re getting a good deal for your tickets (green=good, yellow=good but could be better, red=not good). Still undecided? Consider using our promo code BRKDWN for a 20% discount on your first purchase!

Right now, the Orlando Magic are over $20 million below the cap, and are at best a first round exit… that pretty much sums up their situation

To summarize:

  1. Had a decent free agency
  2. Have good young players, but bad cap situation puts them at a disadvantage
  3. Fringe playoff team at best
  4. Not much they can do with little cap space and bad value/long term contracts

What do you expect from the Orlando Magic and their players? Tweet us your opinions to @the_BRKDWN. Next, I’ll be talking about a team that has been consistent atop the West standings since 2015, but have never seriously contended for a title.