2. Re-sign the right players
One of the best discoveries the Magic made while playing together last season was their defensive identity. They finished the regular season eighth in defensive rating (107.5), while also learning how to fight back from large deficits to win games. Offensively, however, they struggled, ranking 22nd with a rating of 108.1.
Clearly then, this summer is about signing, or re-signing, individuals who fit the description of defensively-minded players that can also help to remedy some of the team’s offensive woes. This is easier said than done, and even from within their own ranks, tough choices will need to be made.
Vucevic led the Magic in scoring last season, posting a career-high 20.8 points per game. Should he leave, they will need to replace that scoring production through other means. If Vucevic returns though, he could end up squeezing out a cult hero in Orlando in Khem Birch.
Birch came to encapsulate everything that was great about the Magic last season, taking his chance after Bamba went down with injury to be the feisty, never say die player off the bench that they needed to get back to the playoffs. If Vucevic comes back alongside Bamba, who is going nowhere, Birch may be forced out.
Given how important he was to their identity, this would be a blow and further proof that they will need to get the right players onboard if they are to have as much success next season. More firepower would be nice, with another addition similar to Ross, while also keeping him as their sixth man, would give the organization more punch against opponents.
The need to sign the right guys is highlighted even more when you consider what will happen if they don’t. The wrong players at this crucial time in the Magic’s re-emergence from the wilderness could kill the nice chemistry they have been building from within. There isn’t a lot of negative talk around the roster, and it looks like the people there enjoy playing with one another and under Clifford.
If they add a disgruntled older player who is used to winning, or even somebody like Jeff Green who looked about as uninterested as any athlete ever has all while making $15 million during one year in Orlando, it will set them back. Bringing Vucevic and Ross back to run it back with their improving youngsters is the safe move, but pushing the boat out here could yield greater gains … while also increasing the risk of it going wrong.