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The Orlando Magic traded two of the best players moved at the deadline. Tobias Harris is a 23-year-old swingman who oozes versatility and upside. Channing Frye is the type of stretch big every modern offense craves.
But Orlando's return haul didn't reflect the value of the outgoing players. In separate deals, the Magic brought back free-agent-to-be Brandon Jennings, potential free-agent-to-be Ersan Ilyasova and a second-round pick. They couldn't get a first for Harris, but older, less talented forwards Jeff Green and Markieff Morris each delivered one to their former employers.
In a sense, the Magic prioritized the future over the present, which is always a smart move for a non-contender. But rather than valuable picks, their primary perk was cap space. They could have $45 million of it come July, per Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
Financial flexibility is never a bad thing, but the Magic need to be careful. As much as they'd like a big-ticket item—they chased Paul Millsap last summer, remember—they can't throw top-shelf funds at second-tier players. And that'll be more tempting than it sounds with the likelihood that the cream of this free-agent crop won't give Orlando a long look.
"It's hard to see the Magic legitimately competing for the best players on the market as a lottery team with an ill-defined core," wrote ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton. "Below that top talent, there's a steep drop-off to a second tier of players likely to get overpaid because there's simply more money to go around than talent."
Orlando should focus its funds on adding (or keeping) young players with growth potential. This core isn't ready to attract marquee free agents.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.