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Making the playoffs last season was a big deal for the Orlando Magic. A young core of Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz and Mo Bamba was supposed to take the next step, especially with All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross signed to new deals.
Now, the Magic will have to finish the season 20-10 just to match last season’s 42-40 record.
While plenty of key players have missed time with injuries, the Magic have been one of the worst playoff-bound teams ever seen and are projected to get annihilated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.
It didn’t have to be this way.
There’s plenty of talent on the roster, which is dominated by bigs and severely lacks wings and shooters from all positions. If there was ever a team in need of a trade, it was the Magic.
Gordon, 24, would have been the logical choice to ship out. Even with Isaac out indefinitely, he has the higher long-term upside as the team’s starting power forward. Putting Gordon, Isaac and Vucevic on the floor together just doesn’t provide enough spacing and shooting for the 27th-ranked offense to operate smoothly.
Gordon has all the tools to be an All-Star caliber power forward but has regressed in recent years. Trying to reroute him for a quality wing would have helped improve the team’s long-term outlook and pumped some life into the squad.
Even if the Magic didn’t want to part with Gordon now given Isaac’s injury, trading for James Ennis III isn’t going to move the needle. A corner-three specialist, Ennis was averaging 5.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 15.8 minutes per game off the 76ers bench.
With talented wings like Malik Beasley, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III all switching teams, Orlando missed an opportunity to add significant talent on the perimeter or take the necessary steps to reshape its roster.