Another season is going by with the Orlando Magic looking like they have no sense of direction.
The franchise from Florida is looking at another losing year and it seems like the front office does not really know what to do with its squad. The Magic definitely have some quality young players on the roster, but they must be complemented by a coherent team-building message from the higher-ups. They made just one deal at the trade deadline, acquiring Bol Bol and PJ Dozier from the Boston Celtics.
Magic’s biggest NBA Trade Deadline mistake
The Magic essentially acquired Bol and Dozier to get a second-round pick from the Celtics for helping them duck the luxury tax. Both players are injured and out for the season, and Dozier was already cut from the roster. Orlando will no doubt come to regret hanging onto Harris, Lopez and Ross past the deadline, losing the opportunity to move them for future assets as the title race heats up.
Looking at the Magic roster, these three players are really the only ones that have some relevant league experience. Harris had a successful early-career stint with the Denver Nuggets that ended up poorly due to injuries. Robin Lopez has been in the league for well over a decade, brought in over the offseason to aid the development of Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. Ross, a microwave scorer, never really fit on the Magic once they entered rebuilding mode at last year's deadline by trading Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Goron.
Yet, when we look at Magic's contracts, the situation is even more baffling. Orlando only has one true veteran, Ross, under contract for next season. Both Lopez and Harris are going to be free agents this summer; the Magic have effectively lost all value on them now. It is worth reviewing all three cases of these mentioned veterans, and what the Magic could have received in exchange for trading them.
Lopez is not playing a lot for the Magic. He usually isn't on the floor unless either one of Bamba and Carter Jr. is injured or resting. With his age, realistic contribution and skillset included in the mix, it is absolutely true that the Magic could not have netted much for trading him. However, no one was expecting the Magic to find a ton of value in a deal like that. They probably could have gotten a proteted second-rounder from a team like the Charlotte Hornets, one that could use a defensive big like Lopez to bolster their rotation.
Harris could have gotten Magic a bit more value than Lopez. His $20 million salary complicated matters , but plenty of contenders had the financial ballast to send a second-round pick or two to Orlando for Harris. He's still a stout individual defender of opposing guards, and is shooting the three ball this season better than he has since 2017-18. Harris could've been a very useful bench piece for teams chasing the championship, all at a low cost.
Ross is having his worst season since the 2017-18, his first full year in Orlando. He is still averaging around 11 points off the bench the bench and is a valid scoring option, though, due to his ability to hit tough shots. With some contenders and playoff-fighting teams needing a boost off the bench, Ross could have been an option. Now, Orlando will either trade him for even less value this time next year or straight up lose him in free agency come summer 2023.
Of course, the Magic might have made the correct move standing pat. They did not have much to trade away and even if they went for it, their return would not have been something that changed the course of the franchise. Still, not trading at least one of its three veterans when two can walk at the end of the season for nothing is the biggest Orlando made at the 2022 NBA trade deadline.