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2024 NBA offseason preview: What’s next for the Magic?

The Orlando Magic were one of the worst teams in 2020-21 and 2021-22. They went a combined 43-111 in the two seasons. They won the draft lottery in 2022 and selected Paolo Banchero as their first pick. Although they did not make the playoffs in his rookie year, they improved as the season progressed, finishing 34–48. In his second season they took another step forward.

2024 NBA offseason preview: What’s next for the Magic?

Season overview

The Magic were one of the league’s biggest surprises in 2023-24, finishing 47-35. That gave them the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Orlando fought valiantly in their opening round match against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but were ultimately eliminated in seven games.

On the defensive end, the Magic really excelled. Their defensive rating of 111.3 was the second-best in the NBA, behind only the Minnesota Timberwolves. Guard Jalen Suggs was named to the All-Defensive Second Team.

Orlando’s two young cornerstones are where the offense continued. The 21-year-old Banchero was named an All-Star and averaged 27 points in the seven-game series with Cleveland. While 22-year-old Franz Wagner posted a dud in Game 7, he scored nearly 20 goals per outing during the regular season.

Projected Cap Space and Draft Picks

19 million in cap space

The Magic could look to upgrade the shooting guard position in free agency with their projected cap space. The shooting as a whole needs to be upgraded after finishing dead last in 2023-24, making just 11 three-pointers per game. They could also look to the draft to find someone to respect defense from beyond the arc.

Draft picks: Nos. 18 and 47

Primary goals

With Orlando in dire need of outside shooting, many of the primary targets listed are long-range threats. As a freshman at Kansas, Furphy connected on 35.2% of his three-point attempts. In George’s first year in Miami, he scored 40.8%. Schierman’s five-year career at South Dakota State and Creighton saw the 6’6″ guard shoot 39.0%, including 38.1% last season. The 6’3″ Kolak was one of the top assist men in the country at Marquette, shooting 38.8% on threes last season.

Perhaps the most interesting name here is Collier. There was a time when his name was tossed out as the potential first overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. His first year at USC didn’t go exactly to plan, and the Trojans struggled to a 15-18 record. The 6-foot-1 guard still made nearly half of his field goal attempts while averaging 16.3 points.

Pending free agents and possible departures

Free agents

The first four names mentioned here were part of Orlando’s postseason rotation. The club options for Ingles and Wagner are worth $11 million and $8 million, respectively. The 36-year-old Ingles scored just 11 points in the seven-game series. The Magic may decide to move on from the 10-year veteran. Moritz Wagner, Franz’s older brother, was one of the better reserve players in the league this season. He turned 27 on April 26, so Orlando might want to bring him back while he’s in his prime.

After appearing in all 60 games in the 2022/23 season, the 26-year-old Fultz started just 18 of 43 games in 2023/24. He played eight fewer minutes per game and his ball-handling responsibilities were reduced. In a free agent market not filled with top-tier point guards, someone could decide to pay Fultz more than the Magic are willing to pay. The 29-year-old Harris started at shooting guard for his six playoff appearances. He is a player who played little and shot poorly in the postseason, but adds value with his defense.

While Bitadze only played a total of 10 minutes in the play-offs, he started 33 games in the regular season. He averaged 1.2 blocks in 15.4 minutes per game.

Trade pieces

No one on Orlando’s roster appears to be part of the trade block. However, if they want to improve the roster via trade rather than free agency, these two players could be considered valuable to other teams. Howard was the 11th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and barely played as a rookie. The 20-year-old played a total of 67 minutes across 18 games. The 6-foot-4 forward can play a bigger role in a team that is in a rebuilding phase.

Carter Jr. has a very marketable deal and is only 25 years old. He has three years left on his contract for just under $36 million. That’s excellent value for a player who spent much of his six seasons as a starter. The Magic certainly want to keep him, but there would be plenty of trade partners who would be interested in the 6’10” center.

Realistic off-season goals

Trade

For a team that prides itself on defense, the Magic may have more interest in Murray than Trae Young if they get involved in trade talks with the Atlanta Hawks. It is widely speculated that Atlanta will trade at least one of the two guards, and that Murray would come to Orlando with his defensive skills and three-point shooting that is at least close to league average.

With an expiring contract, it makes little sense for a young team like the Portland Trail Blazers to keep the 31-year-old Brogdon. The 2022-2023 Sixth Man of the Year has shot 43.1% from beyond the arc over the past two seasons.

Free agents

There have been numerous reports that Thompson and the Magic could have mutual interest. Could the four-time champion leave the only NBA team he has played for? Hield received DNP-CD for the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs before breaking out in Game 6 of the first round. The 31-year-old has made between 219 and 288 three-pointers over the past six seasons. Monk was the favorite to win Sixth Man of the Year until a season-ending knee injury sidelined him.

Russell has become a bit of a scapegoat for the Los Angeles Lakers when it comes to their postseason departures. The 28-year-old shot a career-best 41.5% in 2023-2024. Over the past three seasons, Beasley has made 699 three-pointers. Much of this offseason for the Magic will revolve around improving team scoring and outside shooting, while hopefully sacrificing little on the defensive end.

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