The Magic might have finished in the bottom three in the Eastern Conference in each of the last three seasons, and made the playoffs just twice since 2012, but there is plenty of reason for optimism in Orlando. They've got one of the better collections of young talent in the league, headlined by a wing pairing of Franz Wagner and Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero, while Wendell Carter Jr looms as a long-term starting center option and they have a glut of young guards to choose from.
Nobody has really emerged from that grouping of guards and taken hold of a backcourt position, but it's from that group that the most likely trade candidates for the Magic comes. With no less than five young guys fighting for similar spots, combined with the fact that their front court starters can both handle the ball – as can Joe Ingles, who they recently signed to a two-year deal – there is no need for as many backcourt guys as they've got – and that could lead to a couple of trades.
In recent weeks, Cole Anthony has emerged as the most likely candidate to head elsewhere to free up spots in the backcourt for the Magic. The 15th pick from the 2020 draft, Anthony has certainly shown glimpses of his potential in his three years in Orlando, but having come off the bench in all but four games last year his time there may be coming to an end – particularly given the Magic's acquisition of yet another guard in Anthony Black with the sixth pick in the 2023 draft.
Already he was behind Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris for a starting spot, while he and Jalen Suggs were wrestling with each other for minutes off the bench. Now, with Black in the mix, Cole Anthony's undeniable talent might be wasted in Orlando.
And in the lead-up to the season, that's not been lost on anyone. Anthony has begun to be included in numerous trade rumors, and plenty of teams looking to bolster their backcourt depth – or even looking for a starter – will no doubt be interested in a former lottery pick with as much scoring ability as Anthony. He has his flaws but in the right situation could become a valuable NBA player, but increasingly, it appears like that situation is not in Orlando.
In many ways, Jalen Suggs' position is very similar to that of Cole Anthony. Just two years ago he was the number five pick, but he hasn't quite had the impact that the Magic would hope for from such a high draft pick in his two seasons with the team to date. They will no doubt be loathe to give him up this soon in his career, but with Black potentially moving ahead of him in the rotation and, as mentioned, ball handlers in the front court, his role on the team could potentially be in question.
Suggs regressed in virtually every statistical category last season, ultimately averaging just 9.9 points on 41.9% shooting and dishing out only 2.9 assists per game. He's just 22 years of age, so that is by no means suggest that he won't become a valuable player in the NBA, but he's certainly fallen down the list of the Magic's backcourt players. Having been taken so high in the draft just a couple of years ago he would still have plenty of value on the trade market, but that may begin to wane if he hangs around as the Magic's fourth or fifth small option for a year or two.
Both Anthony and Suggs have enough ability to be a good player on an NBA team, but this season could potentially prove difficult for them if they remain with the Magic. Particularly with Cole Anthony, theirs may very well be a situation in which it's better for both club and player to part ways.