Mar 16, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Suns beat the Raptors 121-113. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Grading The Orlando Magic Offseason

Although there’s still some time to go before the start of the NBA season, it is very likely the Orlando Magic have the roster set that will head to training camp. So, after a productive draft, some nice summer league displays and a couple more signings than a lot of people had planned for, where exactly are the Magic at now?

Let’s take a look at some positives and negatives about the offseason to date.

Some moves, like the signing of Ben Gordon, require a little more thought to see why the Magic brought him in. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

On a positive but unsurprising note, the team didn’t lose any players that they desperately wanted to keep. Sure, Arron Afflalo was a an favorite, as was stalwart Jameer Nelson.

But the franchise was moving in a direction that didn’t include them, and that’s all right. There was always a slim-to-none chance a trade would come along too good to turn down for the likes of Victor Oladipo, but it didn’t happen anyway.

So the young core of the team remains intact, and really that’s the biggest plus that can be taken.

Before looking at any potential negatives, one move left many scratching their heads. This was the signing of Ben Gordon, who was waived in March by the Charlotte Bobcats, in a move few saw coming.

Why it was such a surprising move was because Gordon hasn’t been relevant in quite some time. However, turning this puzzling move into a positive, Gordon was an inexpensive pickup and the best-case scenario is that he contributes somewhat to what was a terrible offensive team last year.

This will surely come from the bench.

The signings of Evan Fournier and Channing Frye were again two shrewd and worthwhile additions. Frye is over the heart complications that forced him out of the game two years ago, and will look to be the starting power forward for the team.

Listening to what came out of the Phoenix Suns camp, they certainly didn’t want to see him leave, he appears to be an excellent teammate. What a plus that will be for the young players on this team.

With regards to Fournier, he’s shown a nice offensive game in the time he’s been allowed on the court in the past with the Denver Nuggets. He rarely averaged more than 20 minutes a game and still found ways to score, so look for him to get a bigger role in this growing team.

Turning again to the negatives, this team did not get any players of real star power this summer. Even a Lance Stephenson or a Pau Gasol would have been a significant step up for the team, but this didn’t happen.

Again though, let’s turn this negative into a positive. The Magic rebuild is a long-term one, and getting a star this summer was never the plan.

Overpaying for a player and tying up the team’s cap space made no sense. The flexibility this team has going forward to get a true superstar to go with this young an athletic core is an exciting one.

Perhaps surprisingly, it is the draft which may yet bring the most joy. Orlando’s two lottery picks, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, both showed up well during the Orlando Summer League.

While Gordon wasn’t projected as a top five pick, his explosiveness would appear well suited to this team. Look for him to make an impact off the bench right away, before becoming a starter sooner rather than later.

It is Payton, however, who brings the most intrigue. Veteran point guard Luke Ridnour was signed up in case both Payton and Oladipo struggle to command the 1 spot on the court.

He is the team’s fallback here. Oladipo should remain a shooting guard, this was after all his position in college.

But if Payton can hit the ground running, he could even push to make the All-Rookie team next season. Although he’s not the most hyped PG coming into the league, he would appear more able to contribute right away to an NBA team than others coming in.

Early signs are that he could morph into a top defender as well.

So there you have it. On paper, it actually looks like the Orlando Magic had a really good summer.

Only time will tell of course, but the moves made all appear to be calculated ones with the future in mind. There were no panic pickups or trades, and the franchise as a whole has a feel of one that knows it is going in the right direction.

Even the negatives outlined above seemed to have a silver lining of sorts.

So while a lot of other teams got considerably better, so did Orlando in their own, perhaps less impressive way. Look out for them next season, they may sniff a spot in the playoffs even into the New Year, before probably fading away.

A good summer it has been though.

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Tags: Aaron Gordon Ben Gordon Channing Frye Elfrid Payton Evan Fournier Orlando Magic

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