The Orlando Magic finally have a solution to their point guard problem in Markelle Fultz, after a great deadline day trade.
With time slipping away on Thursday afternoon as the NBA trade deadline neared, it looked like the Orlando Magic were going to sit out of the process altogether.
They had waited until the last possible moment the previous year, but on that occasion they were sellers as they sent Elfrid Payton to the New Orleans Pelicans.
It cost them Jonathon Simmons, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s protected first-round pick and a second-rounder from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A simple scan online, however, and the reactions of the Magic fans alone was worth it. The move is generating plenty of excitement and positive “what if” scenarios for the near future with the addition of a former first overall pick who was taken less than two years ago.
Social media hype and keeping the fans onside is one thing, but there are many more reasons why this was a great deadline day move for the organization. Beginning with the front office, and it showed that they have some amount of aggression to get deals done.
The big knock on the current decision-makers, who themselves have only been in the job over two years, was that they were not being aggressive enough in trying to acquire talent. The Magic hadn’t been part of a notable trade since letting Victor Oladipo leave town.
That happened under former general manager Rob Hennigan, but current GM John Hammond and president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman had seemed content to look on from the sidelines and instead draft long and athletic players Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba in the NBA lottery.
They flipped the script by going after Fultz, which brings us nicely onto our next point. Although the trade value of Fultz was a complete mystery, the Magic didn’t take a huge risk in adding him to the roster.
His injury woes have been well documented, and that is the real concern with taking the young player on.
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But in giving up Simmons, a player who never seemed to fit in Orlando and who will be better suited to a contending team like the 76ers, the Magic didn’t part with a whole lot. Some out there thought that adding a protected first round pick was too steep, but in this instance it was absolutely worth attaching it to get the deal over the line.
It is top-20 protected and will become two second-rounders if it falls within the restrictions placed on it. Adding the second-round pick on top of this begins to make the deal look steep, but in reality the Magic have pulled off a great move here.
It is possible the picks could turn into a player they would like to have on their roster, but the prospect of passing on Fultz because of this was too great. The Magic may have drafted well in recent with the additions of Isaac and second rounder Wesley Iwundu, but they have seen far more talented individuals get away.
At one time they had Oladipo, Tobias Harris, and the draft rights to Dario Saric and Domantas Sabonis. Better to add a first overall pick, who had front offices raving not that long ago, then to see what another pick could become.
Another nice aside to the Fultz deal, which again works in the favor of the Magic, was that they didn’t have to give up Terrence Ross. It was thought that Ross was sure to be included in any deal, because his skills would seem to translate well off the bench for the 76ers.
That and the fact that an Instagram post of his suggested he was headed to Philadelphia.
Ross is an unrestricted free agent this coming summer and he may end up leaving the Magic. But fans really like him and would love him to stay. His body language and what he has said to the media since arriving from the Toronto Raptors showing that he is happy to be there too.
There is no question he can help their push for the playoffs, both this season and beyond.
Which was why holding onto him was another positive in this deal. Perhaps most importantly, the fit between player and organization is perfect. Fultz gets a chance to rehab in a smaller market and away from the rabid fans and media scrutiny in Philadelphia.
There is also zero rush to get him back on the court either.
It would be surprising if he is seen before the end of this season, and that is fine. Going forward though, he joins a core group of players in Isaac, Bamba and Aaron Gordon, the oldest of the group at 23.
Add in the Magic’s own first-round pick this summer and that is a group with such a high ceiling.
The only concern being the injury history of Fultz, Isaac and Bamba, now that Bamba is likely done for the season with a stress fracture in his leg. Unlike somebody like Mike Conley, however, the timeline matches up in a much better way.
The hope is that Fultz will begin to shine at a time when all of the young players on the roster do.
Finally, the acquisition of Fultz also gives the Magic some stability and a group to work with going forward.
It would have been great if they could have signed All-Star D’Angelo Russell to an offer sheet this summer, but as a restricted free agent there was no way the Brooklyn Nets would have let him walk.
Even a player like Tomas Satoransky, who could have been more open to a bigger role in a smaller market, has seen his own situation change with the news that John Wall will be injured and out of action for a long time.
This summer brought no guarantees a notable point guard could have been gotten.
By adding Fultz, that is no longer a high priority like it would have been. Striking out on such players wouldn’t have the same negative impact either. This even extends to the draft, where there is now far less pressure on the front office to take a point guard in the first round.
We won’t know what Markelle Fultz can mean to the Orlando Magic for quite some time yet. But at this moment, trading for him has given the whole organization a lift, and it didn’t cost too much to get him either.
This was a great move by the front office, that continues the momentum of their rebuild.