The Orlando Magic possess a glut of young talent at guard entering 2023-24. With a contract extension unlikely for Cole Anthony, don't be surprised if new general manager Anthony Parker and the Orlando front office address their team's roster redundancy by looking to trade him.
One NBA agent told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report the Magic are likelier to move Anthony before the regular season tips off than sign him to a contract extension.
“I think they move Anthony, maybe even before the season. But I don't think they extend him,” they said.
The No. 15 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Anthony hasn't quite established himself as a member of Orlando's foundational core next to ever-improving swingman Franz Wagner and reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero. His most productive season came in 2021-22, when Anthony started at point guard in all 65 games he played while averaging 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He was woefully inefficient, though, putting up an ugly true shooting percentage of 51.9—damning for a lead guard who creates more for himself than teammates.
Anthony reverted back to a bench role last season with Markelle Fultz fully healthy, averaging 13.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game on 57.0% true shooting, an easy career-high right in line with league average. While the Magic could certainly use his scoring punch and two-way energy—best reflected in awesome rebounding numbers for his size—off the bench in 2023-24 and beyond, the failure to reach a contract extension with Anthony before he hits restricted free agency next summer presents the perfect opportunity for Orlando to better balance its roster with a trade.
There probably isn't room on the Magic's roster long-term for Fultz, Jalen Suggs and rookie Anthony Black given their inability to consistently threaten defenses from beyond the arc and other stylistic similarities. Anthony is a far superior shot-maker to his younger teammates, but not the type of difference-maker Orlando would regret moving to give Fultz, Suggs and Black longer runways to succeed. Rookie wing Jett Howard needs minutes and touches, too.
Anthony still has the chance to carve out an impactful niche in the league as a third or fourth guard. Whether he's traded in the next few weeks or not, expect him to realize that destiny with a team other than the Magic.