Orlando got a taste of some pure magic on Thursday’s trade deadline as the front office traded agreed to trade Jonathon Simmons, a future first-round and a second-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for guard Markelle Fultz. The former No. 1-overall pick clearly needed a change of scenery after a rocky start in Philly; now he gets a chance to play under the radar and prove to the league that he’s not a shell of his former self.
The Magic – for a while now – have had no real solution or strategy at the point guard spot. That lack of a true leader on the floor has resulted in Orlando leading the league in double-digit blown leads.
Markelle is a low-risk, high-reward option to give Orlando some hope as a new regime in president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond continues to improve this roster.
Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond consider the Fultz acquisition as a low-risk, high-reward proposition. Magic will proceed with his arrival as long-term project and like chances w/ Steve Clifford and his staff getting to work with the former No. 1 pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
Near-term vs Long-term Impact
It was almost a foregone conclusion that Orlando would have to move either Nikola Vucevic or Terrence Ross to get anything back of value. They not only kept their current rotation intact as Simmons was essentially dead weight on the roster this season, but also managed to hold on to their own draft pick. Simmons is averaging 6.9 points, 2.3 assists, 2.4 rebounds in 20-to-21 minutes per game this season. His playing time last season was close to 30 mins per game when he averaged 13.9 points per.
At the trade deadline, the Orlando Magic sit 4 games behind Miami for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference. Between them and Miami stands Detroit and Washington, both projected to keep slipping in the standings. Charlotte and Brooklyn have made a strong argument for the no. 6 and 7 spot so far, so it’s really a matter of out-pacing the Heat in the second half of this season.
The Fultz move is the best of both worlds for this roster; they’re able to keep pushing for the postseason with their rotation intact, but also make a play for the future.
Should fans be happy about getting one of the biggest ‘busts’ in NBA history? No, not at all. But they should be happy the front office is finally making smart moves to set themselves up near-and-long term. It may turn into another Grant Hill, waiting-game situation, but the gamble is worth it.