By Ryan Brock
NBA trade season has already been quite eventful, as top available players like OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam have been dealt to new teams, but with the deadline looming (Feb. 8th, 3pm), we can expect a lot more wheeling and dealing in the imminent future.
The Magic are rumored to be one of the “active buyers” in a crowded market as they look to upgrade key spots in the rotation and push for a playoff spot. Whether or not they find a deal enticing enough to actually pull the trigger remains to be seen.
President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, is extremely calculated when it comes to player movement and doesn’t make trades without clear intention. He constantly has an eye on the future and prioritizes “sustainability” when acquiring players and constructing his team. That means that if the Magic do make a deal at this deadline, you can bet that player will be someone who fits the long-term vision and compliments current stars Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.
If you have watched even a modest amount of this young Orlando team this season, it should be clear that shooting continues to be their greatest hindrance to success. The Magic so badly need another guard who stretches the floor. Jalen Suggs has made tremendous strides this season, but a guard who can’t shoot next to him just isn’t going to work if they want to maximize their stars.
The Magic are shooting just 34.4% from three this season, good for 29th in the league. They're last in three point makes, bottom three in three point attempts, and bottom five in free throw percentage, at 75.7%. It’s a problem the front office can’t continue to ignore. They must find a way to remedy this issue ahead of Thursday's deadline.
Weltman doesn’t necessarily need to find sharpshooters, although that would be nice, but he does need to find players who can at least knock down an open shot -- a common theme among the trades mentioned will be who is heading out in the deal. At this point, it’s beginning to be clear that Markelle Fultz's time with the team is nearing its conclusion.
While there isn’t a bigger fan of Markelle than myself, injuries and his inability to shoot the ball, or even be a threat to shoot the ball, will stagnate the development of Banchero and Wagner, and ultimately put a cap on the team fulfilling their potential. Fultz is a free agent after the season, as is Gary Harris, and if the Magic make deals come Thursday, they will most likely leverage these two expiring contracts along with draft assets to complete trades of any real consequence.
With that being said, here are five trades that I believe are distinct possibilities, some more probable than others, that don't betray the Magic’s long term vision of sustainable success.
Orlando Magic Receive: Kevin Huerter
Sacramento Kings Receive: 2025 1st Round Pick (Via Denver), Gary Harris, Chuma Okeke
Kevin Huerter isn’t having his best season, but he’s someone who can come in and stretch the floor for the Magic while also providing some secondary ball handling duties next to either of Orlando’s playmaking forwards. Huerter is only shooting 36% from deep this season, and has only shot 40% from three one time in his six year career, but even Huerter's floor would be a significant upgrade for this Magic team that desperately needs more threats from beyond the arc. Huerter is more reliable than Gary Harris in terms of health and would replace Harris’ minutes for the foreseeable future.
From the Kings perspective, they get a first round pick, something valuable if the Kings ever want to make an all-in move around stars De’ Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. They also replace Huerter with the expiring contract of Harris, a player who has playoff experience, provides solid defense, and isn’t a downgrade in terms of shooting.
Orlando Magic Receive: Collin Sexton
Utah Jazz Receive: 2024 1st Round Pick, Markelle Fultz, Chuma Okeke
Another 6th year guard, Sexton’s name hasn’t necessarily been deemed as “available” as of yet. But Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to shake things up, and the Jazz are as good as bet as any to make some surprise moves at the deadline. Sexton is an underrated guard who, aside from the physical traits, embodies what the Magic like in a player. Sexton is a tenacious defender who would form an intimidating backcourt next to Jalen Suggs. Two bulldogs who won’t be afraid to get up in your face. You may say that Anthony Black can provide that as well, but Sexton would be a tremendous offensive upgrade from what the Magic currently roll out and allows Black to grow in a role off the bench.
At 38%, Sexton is just as good a career three point shooter as Huerter, and he’s sitting at a respectable 38.3% from long range this season. He’s shooting 88% from the free throw line and averaging just under five assists a game. Sexton would supply Orlando with a lead guard who can create his own shot and help score the basketball, but also spread the floor and play off of the star wings when needed.
At only 25 years old with two years left on his contract, Sexton doesn’t need to be ball dominant to be impactful, an important trait when constructing the team around newly crowned All-Star Paolo Banchero.
Orlando Magic Receive: Dejounte Murray
Atlanta Hawks Receive: 2025 1st Round Pick (Via Denver), 2026 Pick Swap, 2024 Second Round Pick, Gary Harris
Much of what applied to Collin Sexton can also be said for Dejounte Murray. While his defense has fallen off since his time in San Antonio, the former All-Defensive selection would be an instant impact player to help run the show in Orlando. If Murray were to come to the City Beautiful, he would slide back into his natural point guard role that he played with the Spurs, where he averaged 9.2 assists in his final season. In Atlanta, he’s mostly relegated to watching Trae Young flop up and down the court, although he’s certainly made the Magic feel his presence with two game winning shots against Orlando this season.
Murray isn’t quite as good a shooter as Sexton and Huerter, but he’s good enough to earn respect from a defense and is certainly an upgrade over Fultz. The hesitation would be having to pay Murray’s four year, $114 contract extension that kicks in next season. As Franz and Suggs will also be expecting extensions after this season, it would be understandable if the Magic elect to go in a cheaper direction and pass on the Seattle native.
Orlando Magic Receive: Tyus Jones, Corey Kispert
Washington Wizards Receive: 2025 1st Round Pick (Via Denver), Markelle Fultz, Chuma Okeke, 2024 Second Round Pick, 2026 second round pick.
There isn’t a day that goes by where you won’t hear a Magic fan bring up Tyus Jones. He’s seemingly a perfect fit. A solid point guard who doesn’t turn the ball over, shoots 40% from three, and averages six assists a game. Sure, he’s small at 6’1, but the Magic can more than make up for it with their plethora of monster wings. Jones is reportedly available for multiple second round picks, but here the Magic sweeten the pot with a first rounder. Orlando should do everything they can to persuade Washington to also part with Corey Kispert, a sniper from downtown, even if it means giving up another valuable asset in the process, including multiple second round picks.
As for the Wizards, they start to restock their draft asset cupboard and gain multiple expiring contracts in Fultz and Okeke. This would also be a homecoming of sorts for Fultz, who played his high school basketball in the DMV.
Orlando Magic Receive: Luke Kennard
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: 2024 Second Round Pick, 2025 Second Round Pick, Gary Harris
This one also makes too much sense for the Magic, meaning that it absolutely will not happen. Last year, Kennard was traded essentially for a few second round picks, as the Clippers unloaded him to Memphis. The Magic should jump at the opportunity to replace the injury plagued Gary Harris with one of the best shooters in the league.
Kennard is a career 44% shooter from deep and would be an invaluable weapon next to Paolo and Franz. He has a team option on his contract at $15 million for next season, one the Magic would undoubtedly pick-up, giving them time to come to an agreement on an extension that could keep him in Orlando long-term. If you want shooters, this is the guy.
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