The Orlando Magic had two tough, losing seasons and are looking forward to changing their fortune. While they have the fourth and 12th picks in the upcoming NBA draft, they may want to consider trading for a missing piece. But which Magic players are good trading options?
If the franchise wants to compete for a playoff spot next year, it needs to acquire some assets. Role players, while not glamorous, are vital for team success.
Just look at the NBA Finals.
The San Antonio Spurs have many important role players like Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green. The Miami Heat have Ray Allen (who is a luxury to have as a role player), Shane Battier and Chris Andersen, to name a few.
Orlando could use veterans to fill glaring holes like in its interior defense.
Who Is Most Likely To Be Traded?
The first player who comes to mind is Arron Afflalo.
He had a career season and increased his marketability. However, the Magic have several young talents at the 2 and 3 who need playing time. Victor Oladipo will be the starting shooting guard next season. Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless will share small forward duties, with the former being able to play the 4 when needed.
If general manager Rob Hennigan chooses one of the many small forwards with the team's second pick in the draft, there is yet more competition.
There will be many teams interested in picking up the 28-year-old. He is very coachable—as George Karl, his former coach in Denver, told the Orlando Sentinel in 2012—reliable and has a lot of experience. Afflalo is perfect for a championship contender in need of an explosive scorer off the bench.
If the Magic decide to trade him, that scenario may well include another draft pick or trading up from the 12th spot. That way, they could secure the rights to a player like Noah Vonleh or Aaron Gordon, promising big men who would help the team in the long run.
A trade could profit both parties.
Orlando would get good value in return now that Afflalo has arguably become All-Star material, and the young prospects will see more minutes and develop faster.
Afflalo, on the other hand, is at the peak of his career. He still has several productive years ahead of him, but the Magic are still some seasons away from becoming a possible title contender once more.
In order for the veteran to get a championship ring, he will need to leave O-Town.
Another player who may profit from a change of scenery is Andrew Nicholson.
The young 6'9" forward struggled throughout last season despite a good rookie campaign. He is too slow to play small forward and not strong enough to play power forward, let alone center. On offense, he relied on his outside shot, which made him a one-dimensional player. His average shot distance last season was 14.5 feet from the basket, compared to 10.2 feet in 2012-13.
He may become a decent role player down the road, but he doesn't really fit the Magic at this moment. They need more strength inside.
This was most obvious when they used the young power forward as center 23 percent of the time. He looked lost next to some of the big men he faced. In turn, Nicholson did not see enough playing time to develop his game and lost confidence.
Unless he uses the offseason to bulk up, Orlando will have two open ears for possible trades.
Finally, Ronnie Price will be traded if the Magic can get anything at all in return. He is stuck behind too many guards and has never averaged more than 14.4 minutes per game in his nine years in the league, starting in only 35 games.
With Dante Exum likely to get drafted by the team, Price will drop even further in the rotation. The Magic will be happy to accept offers for the 30-year-old.
Obviously, Victor Oladipo will stay.
It wouldn't make any sense for the Magic to trade the workhorse who they picked second in last year's draft. He is still raw, but his work ethic promises a lot of development over the coming years.
And let's not forget that his performance in 2013-14 put him into contention for Rookie of the Year honors.
Nikola Vucevic averaged a double-double in each of the last two seasons and is still only 23 years old. He is already one of the best big men in the game despite lacking stopping power. Even if his defense doesn't improve, he is still much too good to let go—especially in a league short of quality centers.
Both showed a lot of promise last season. Harris has the potential to become an All-Star and already must be considered a cornerstone of this franchise. O'Quinn really blossomed after Glen Davis' departure, and his presence is an important first step toward a tougher interior defense.
It seems highly unlikely that either will get traded.
Dewayne Dedmon is another possible defensive anchor. While he showed some promise, no one can tell how well he will develop in the near future. The Magic will hope he can become an important role player and will most probably keep him.
The main reason for him being on this untradable list is the simple fact that no team will want to give much—if anything—in return. He is more valuable staying in Orlando than being used as a trade asset.
Even more so when considering that this team is in dire need of shot-blockers.
Jameer Nelson's position with the team is tricky.
Objectively speaking, he is an undersized, aging veteran, and the Orlando Magic are likely to pick his successor in the upcoming draft. Currently, the most reasonable pick seems to be Exum.
The young Australian has a lot of potential and is much taller than Nelson. However, Exum is just too raw at the moment.
That's why the Magic won't trade their veteran point guard.
He can mentor the rookie like no one else on this team is able to. He has a lot of experience, shows great leadership and has an energy level that should not be legal for a 32-year-old. Until Exum is ready for NBA starter duties, Nelson will still be running the show on the court.
It seems unthinkable that the Orlando Magic would trade their most iconic—and longest-serving—player. In fact, Nelson is the only man left on the roster who has been at the club longer than Hennigan or head coach Jacque Vaughn.
Maurice Harkless had his share of struggles throughout last season.
However, he is the youngest player on the Magic roster and has a lot of upside. His defense and his overall potential are very valuable to the Magic. If Afflalo gets traded for a big man, the 21-year-old will see more playing time, which in turn should improve his confidence and production.
E'Twaun Moore is another young, promising player. The 24-year-old will be a great backup point guard in the future, at the very least. He provides a lot of energy off the bench and boasts great athleticism.
The 6'4" guard averaged 19.1 minutes per game, an indication that Vaughn sees potential in him. Over his first three years in the NBA, Moore increased his field-goal percentage consistently while decreasing his turnovers per 36 minutes.
He seems to have found his rhythm.
The Purdue University product is a proficient combo guard, which will ensure he sees enough time on the floor. Once Nelson slips out of his Magic jersey for the last time, Moore will be a very important part of Orlando's rotation.
The most likely trade has to involve Afflalo.
It is a bad coincidence that the peak of his career doesn't match Orlando's cycle. The Magic will become title contenders again several years down the road.
The franchise seems set to become a force if it can keep the young prospects and develop them accordingly. While veterans such as Nelson can play a vital part mentoring and leading by example, Afflalo is likely to be more valuable as trade asset.
That way, the Magic may be able to fill some glaring holes while allowing their youngsters to gain experience.
If Nelson had put up the same numbers as Afflalo, we might be talking about him getting traded.
However, while Nelson is a solid playmaker, most teams have better—and younger—options at the point guard position. The Magic would not be able to get enough in return to make up for losing his experience and leadership.
Nicholson is the second-most realistic option for a trade.
He seems to be caught between positions. On an Orlando team devoid of intimidating big men, he is forced to play at the 5, a spot for which he is clearly not suited. He has potential, which may help trigger a deal.
There is always the option to send him to the D-League to develop his game, but it seems unlikely that he can become a defensive monster. And right now, that's exactly what the Magic need.
Their point guard woes should be addressed in the upcoming draft.
You can follow @KurtJonke for more on the NBA in general and the Orlando Magic in particular.
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