Orlando Magic: Will you be mad if they bring Evan Fournier back?

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images /

As sad as it may be for the Orlando Magic, especially with Nikola Vucevic once again have an All-Star level season that he has now been rewarded for, they need to look towards next season beyond. This is actually easier to do than you would think, as unlike previous years, there is already a style of play and young players in place.

Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz will both return from ACL tears at some point, with Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls a promising case study on just how good a player can be once back from the dreaded injury. Aaron Gordon is still here, and Cole Anthony has looked like a promising rookie who figures to be around for a while.

Vucevic will continue to be the best player that head coach Steve Clifford has at his disposal, and whether that continues or the Magic look to cash in on his sky-high trade value, the organization will benefit from either of these situations unfolding. This leaves us with Evan Fournier, who is an unrestricted free agent this coming summer.

The Frenchman frustrates fans regularly and yet, when he is suddenly not around through injury, it becomes painfully apparent just how much the Magic need his ability to create shots for himself and others. In fact, he does this better than anybody on the roster as it is currently constructed. Which begs the question;

Will you be mad if the Orlando Magic decide to bring back Fournier on a new deal?

It sounds unthinkable, right? We all know what this team is as currently constructed, and that is a low playoff seed. Probably sixth at best when everybody is healthy and without Isaac or Fultz taking a significant leap forward (which the franchise is still banking on actually happening). Why would they commit to Fournier again when it puts them right back where they are now?

There are two painful reasons that have to be considered and accepted, and the first and most important is that there may not be a better player willing to come to Orlando with the money that will be freed up if Fournier is allowed to walk. The last free agent to take the Magic seriously was Paul Millsap, who gave the organization a midnight meeting in 2015.

Granted the roster is looking a lot better than it did back then, and a veteran player may look at the young core in place, as well as Vucevic for now, and see an exciting opportunity. But even that might not be enough. Free agents last came to Orlando willingly and in numbers when Dwight Howard was their center which guaranteed a deep playoff run every year.

Heading to a small market when even that is not guaranteed is a risk that a lot of players who want to win won’t take. Obviously if enough money comes their way they will reconsider, but any potential free agent that the Orlando Magic are serious about is going to get offers from elsewhere as well. Likely franchises in pretty good situations themselves.

In fact this could be the thinking of Fournier as well, who may want to play in a different city with a better chance of winning once he becomes an unrestricted free agent. But assuming the Magic don’t trade him as an expiring contract or somebody who can help a contender before then, it may quickly become apparent that Fournier is the best player available to them.

The other part of this is just how well Fournier plays alongside Vucevic. The “Euro Bros” nickname might have caused a fan divide on Twitter recently, but the two have a great understanding on the court and appear to be good friends off of it. Yes it can be annoying when it looks like the two only pass to each other, and it does not guarantee success on a large scale.

But Vucevic is better than he’s ever been, and Fournier is only 28. In other words, about the same age Vucevic was when he took his game to the next level. Fournier has taken leaps before, and he is somebody who is comfortable in his role as the main creator on the roster. He is also somebody coach Clifford trusts.

We’ve seen the perception of Vucevic change hugely once he got better teammates around him. He went from a guy who put up empty stats and big numbers on a bad team, to a two-time All-Star and the most important Magic player of the last nine years. With Isaac, Fultz and Anthony coming back at some point, what is to stop Fournier doing the same?

He would have better facilitators around him so that he would be more free to attack the basket and score in different ways while playmaking for others less. If this sounds like a scenario you wouldn’t want to see unfold, and you couldn’t be blamed if you’ve watched the Magic for long enough, consider this.

The Magic front office, who are slowly losing fans, haven’t shown any willingness to this point to do anything drastic. No big trades. No notable free agents joining. They’ve constantly preached building this roster slowly and steadily, while rising through the ranks in small increments each year, injury withstanding.

Bring Fournier back sounds exactly like something they would do. Most likely on a similar deal to the one that is about to expire (five years, $85 million), as they try and make it work with what they already have. So ask yourself, if Evan Fournier is brought back on another long-term deal, how happy are you going to be about the future and direction of the Orlando Magic? It is more likely than you think.

Next. NBA Week 10 Power Rankings: All-Star Snub Edition. dark