Report: Magic 'Projecting Patience and Optimism' About Retaining Core Players

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2021

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic passes the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Despite having their season derailed by a number of injuries to key players, the Orlando Magic reportedly aren't going into sell mode leading up to the March 25 trade deadline. 

Per ESPN's Zach Lowe on Friday, the Magic are "projecting patience and optimism about bringing back their healthy core next season" rather than trying to trade anyone under contract beyond this season. 

Lowe did speculate that Evan Fournier might be an exception because he can become a free agent this offseason.

Nikola Vucevic has been the most-talked about potential trade candidate on Orlando's roster. He's in the midst of a career year with 23.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a 40.7 three-point percentage. 

The Magic have Vucevic under contract for two seasons after 2020-21 with affordable salaries of $24 million in 2021-22 and $22 million in 2022-23. Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross and Cole Anthony are all under contract for at least one more year.

Orlando began this season without Isaac, who is going to miss the entire 2020-21 campaign recovering from a torn ACL suffered last August. Fultz's season came to an end on Jan. 6 when he tore his ACL against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gordon is expected to be out until at least early March with a severe ankle sprain.

Anthony, the team's first-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft, is going to be out through the All-Star break with a fractured rib. 

All of those injuries have forced the Magic to piece together their lineup with a number of bench players and free-agent signings. They have won three of their last four games but are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 12-18 record. 

Orlando has made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, though it has been eliminated in the first round both times.