The Orlando Magic committed to rebuilding as soon as Dwight Howard set sail for Los Angeles, that much is known. What we don't know is what kind of team second year general manager Rob Hennigan and head coach Jacque Vaughn are trying to construct.
While the team may appear to be cap strapped at present—with nearly $54 million committed to salaries in 2013-14—looks can be deceiving. The Magic have a traded player exception worth $17.8 million that they received for trading away Howard.
Additionally, the contracts of Hedo Turkoglu ($12 million), Jameer Nelson ($8.6 million) and Al Harrington ($7.15 million) are all only partially guaranteed. So, should Hennigan decide the timing is right to cut any of them loose, the organization will only be on the hook for half of the cost.
Considering the core of young talent already on the roster (Tobias Harris, Glen Davis, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O'Quinn, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless, among others) and their present and impending cap flexibility, the future of this team could be very promising.
This offseason will be critical to shaping the destiny of this NBA franchise.
With the 2013 NBA draft less than two weeks away, why don't we tackle some of the rumors circulating the media circuit in a friendly game of Buy or Sell.
Rumor No. 1: The Magic Want to Acquire Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe's name has been thrown around in trades all over the place.
While the Clippers have been aggressively pursuing the acquisition of All-Star forward Kevin Garnett and head coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics, it has become clear that Chris Paul's backup will not be involved in the transaction. ESPN's Marc Stein writes:
With the Clippers adamant that prized young guard Eric Bledsoe will not be included in a trade for Garnett, sources told ESPN.com that one proposed tweak to end the weekend stalemate in the talks is the prospect of the Clippers taking back the contract of either Courtney Lee or Jason Terry from the Celtics.
The reason for the Clippers' refusal to include Eric Bledsoe is their desire to use him as a trade chip in other talks. They would like to add depth to their wing positions. As such, they have engaged in discussions with both the Pacers and the Magic in hopes of acquiring either Danny Granger or Arron Afflalo.
Speaking of Orlando, ESPN's Chad Ford writes, "despite their need at point guard, sources say the Magic aren't sold on Trey Burke as the second-best player in the draft."
After watching Burke in the NBA Draft Scouting Combine, some would argue that he isn't even the best available point guard, let alone worthy of the second pick in the draft.
— Beckley Mason (@BeckleyMason) June 14, 2013
This, as Ford's sources say, is why the Magic would love to acquire Bledsoe. Unfortunately, we may not be able to accurately determine the outcome of Bledsoe's future until the Clippers feel resolved that Chris Paul would re-sign. That may not happen until after the Garnett/Rivers to LA trade is signed, sealed and delivered (to the league offices for approval).
Rumor No. 2: The Magic Will Draft Ben McLemore
Before we get into this one, let us preface it by stating that whatever happens in the draft may be largely affected by trades that occur either before or during it. We're not just talking about a potential Afflalo for Bledsoe trade either...but we'll get into that later.
Should a trade involving Afflalo occur, this would be the ideal pick.
Face it, at 6'5", McLemore has prototypical shooting guard height. He could stand to gain a few pounds of muscle, but size cannot be taught. In his one season at Kansas, he shot an astounding 42 percent from beyond the arc.
Ray Allen didn't shoot that well as a freshman at UConn (only 40 percent). And, considering that he improved his percentage to 64 percent before graduating, one can only hope that McLemore will continue to improve as well.
To further add fuel to this fire, McLemore spoke highly of the Magic in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
The Orlando Magic, I think that's a great program. I think I could fit perfectly in that system and that organization and help that team in different kinds of ways.
It was great just walking in and just seeing that face and seeing that connection as soon as we saw each other. Big smiles came on our faces. He was great.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated had this pick pegged in his latest mock draft. While, Arron Afflalo's contract (roughly $23.4 million over the next three years) would make drafting a young shooting guard undesirable, "the expectation is still that if McLemore is on the board, the Magic will take him."
It would be "difficult for the Magic to pass on McLemore, a Ray Allen-type shooter with superior athleticism."
Rumor No. 3: The Magic Are Looking to Trade Their Pick
As mentioned before, the choices Orlando makes will—in large part—be influenced by the decisions of others.
Just a few weeks ago ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers were fielding trade offers for the No. 1 pick in the draft. GM Chris Grant is looking for the best value for his team, whether that means drafting the best available player or sending the pick to someone else.
You want to look at all your options and make the best decision for your team. This is a valuable asset that we can add to the group, whether it's in trade or keep it and add a player.
With the first and 19th picks in the first round and the first and third picks in the second round, Cleveland has the flexibility to do what it wants.
Unfortunately for Magic fans, their decisions may directly affect the choices that Orlando's staff chooses to make.
Only a week ago, a source familiar with the team's thinking told Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel that the Magic are considering moving down in the draft. The source said that "quite a few teams" have called to see what they would have to give up to acquire the second overall pick.
While it might make sense to trade out of the pick, this year's draft isn't full of studs. Hennigan will find it quite difficult to get the kind of return value that one would usually expect for a high lottery pick this year.
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