It seems like the 2021-22 season will be another losing one for the Orlando Magic. They are the absolute worst team in the NBA right now. The problem for the Magic is that there are teams like the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder whose utmost priority also isn't winning, but still perform much better than them.
Dead last in the league at 10-40, Orlando is completely out of any postseason race. However, that does not mean the decision-making the Magic should stand still in trade talks. Thus, here is the biggest need the Magic must address at the 2022 NBA trade deadline.
Magic 2022 NBA Trade Deadline Need
Orlando's roster is really not terrible. There is a ton of young NBA talent in tow and if they can find the right balance, the Magic can be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Cole Anthony is having a great season in the absence of both Michael Carter-Williams and Markelle Fultz. Rookie Franz Wagner has also been doing great this season and is a major asset for the future of the squad. There is also the frontcourt of Wendell Carter Jr and Mo Bamba, who are both having solid seasons. Fultz's trajectory is questionable due to an ACL tear from which he's yet to return, but if he can regain most of the form he had last season, the Magic will be in a solid place going forward.
However, right now, the Magic are the worst team in the league simply because their roster is built for the future. The top talents of the Magic are probably Jalen Suggs, Wagner, Fultz, Carter, Bamba, and Anthony. All six are either 23 or younger, and the only player in that group with some relevant experience in the league is Fultz. If the Magic really want to turn it around sooner rather than later, they need to add a couple of veterans.
That task would normally be completed in the summer, with signings of players who decidedly want to play in Orlando. However, even the trade deadline could be an avenue for the Magic to add some veteran players to their struggling roster. To do this, they need to sell these players on the idea of future success.
There are two paths the Magic can take here, and the first is to take a risk on a struggling player with star potential. If that is what they are going for, they can look straight to the Indiana Pacers. Caris LeVert has superstar potential and the Pacers are ready to let him go for the right price. Unfortunately for LeVert, he has been hit with injuries and health issues in the last few years. Still, the fact the Brooklyn Nets kept him even after signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, only trading him because James Harden was available, speaks volumes about the LeVert's remaining untapped upside.
If the Magic exercised some patience, LeVert's prime would coincide with projected steps forward for their current young talent. He'd make a dynamic starting backcourt next to Fultz or Anthony, and any defensive deficiencies that might arise from those pairings would be alleviated by the presence of Carter and Bamba up front. All that is predicated, of course, on the health of LeVert and Fultz, along with the progression of Carter and Bamba. However, if everything falls into place, Orlando's core would be complemented greatly by others on the roster, Wagner especially.
The Magic could also go in a different direction, trying to trade for a player very frustrated with the direction of their franchise or who is generally unhappy with their status. The list of marquee targets fitting that description is short, and diminished further by the prospect of that actually wanting to be traded to one of the league's longest-suffering franchises. One potential option: Christian Wood, and here are a few reasons why.
At this point, Wood simply seems frustrated with how things are in going Houston, even infamously refusing to enter a game at the start of January. He is not exactly a superstar, but he would be the best offensive player on the Magic's roster from the get-go. He's averaging 17.5 points on 48.4% shooting from the field, and at 26, would be a natural long-term partner for either Carter or Bamba in the frontcourt.
As the Rockets are looking to bolster their collection of young talent, giving up one youngster and a protected first-round pick for Wood seems reasonable. Keeping him Orlando after next season, when his contract expires, might prove to be an issue, but the Magic would have a season and a half to convince Wood they have an increasingly bright future.