There are few teams in the NBA at this moment in a more sure position than the Orlando Magic. They are building for the future and everybody knows it and so stockpiling young talent and friendly contracts is there strategy at this moment. Losing a rakeload of games too is doing the organization no harm, given that it could eventually lead to a top three pick in this summer’s NBA draft bonanza. Making any sort of trade makes zero sense right now and yet, could it actually be an avenue worth exploring?
Many people “in the know” felt that the Magic would make at least one trade before the February deadline. They might still do that yet, but this now seems more unlikely. This is because, despite a spate of recent injuries, the team is looking fairly set for the foreseeable future. There is a lot of promising young talent like Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris on the roster and watching them grow is a lot of fun, even if it does mean quite a large number in the loss column. However, as touched on around these parts recently, some of these young players have yet to kick on from the promising seasons they turned in last year, namely Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless. Now trading them would be a huge step to take, not least because injury and a lack of playing time have hampered both of their improvements as players. But could maybe trading even one of them for a veteran player making honest money make sense for this team? Probably not, but ironically enough, the Magic already have a player on their roster who does at least show them that leadership and mature play can actually help the growth of a young team.
Arron Afflalo was not expected to see out this season as a Magic player. Brought over to the team in the Dwight Howard trade, many expected him to be moved along in favor of cheaper and younger assets at the first opportunity. As of right now, Afflalo has been the Magic’s best player this season by some distance and is an outside candidate to make the All-Star team. Not bad for a player many were urging Orlando to cash in on as quickly as possible. Entering the prime of his career, it is unclear how much longer Afflalo will remain with the team. One thing is for sure though, his play and leadership qualities have sped up the revival in Orlando and have made the team fun to watch too, when they’re not getting blown out. Behind closed doors his coach friendly attitude and years spent in the league amount to valuable nuggets of information that can be passed on to willing young players, which is exactly what Victor Oladipo is. So while the conventional method of tanking is to go youth crazy, perhaps the Magic could approach this rebuild just a little bit differently and see how it plays out. At this rate their poor records almost guarantees them a high draft pick. Couple that with Oladipo, Afflalo, Vucevic and one other decent veteran player and that is probably a playoff team next year in the poor Eastern Conference.
Of course it is a risk to trade for a veteran player when rebuilding and the circumstances and personalities involved would have to be just right. Luol Deng would have been a great fit for example, but given how his contract ends this summer, it is unlikely he would have stuck around any longer and that is not what the Magic need right now. The core is there, but if it could just get a little older and a little wiser, as long as the player in question knew that they were joining a rebuilding team and had the right attitude as well, then it is something that could certainly pay off. Of course this would mean trading away some promising youth though, and that is something not a lot of Magic fans would be comfortable with. They like where this team is right now, and really it is hard to blame them. Why tamper with something that, so far at least, is going to plan? A trade before the upcoming deadline next month is unlikely, but if it could be puller off, then why not?