The Orlando Magic are one of five NBA teams to improve their win total in each of the past three seasons and plan to spend freely this offseason to continue this uptick.
“We’re going to win and we’re going to have fun winning,” new Magic head coach Frank Vogel said at his introductory news conference on May 23. “I’m excited about this group.”
"Future is bright."
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) May 27, 2016
Orlando went 35-47 this past season, finishing in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and fifth place in the Southeastern division. The 35 victories were 10 more wins than Orlando had a season ago, and it marks the first time the Magic have reached the 30-win mark since the 2011-12 season when they last reached the playoffs. The Magic’s win totals for the past four years have been 20, 23, 25 and 35.
Orlando does have a nice young nucleus in Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja, Victor Oladipo and Nik Vucevic, but the Magic also has several areas to improve.
The Magic ranked 18th in the league in scoring (102.9 points a game) and points allowed (103.7). Last year, though, they were 21st in offensive ranking and 16th in defensive rating, according to Basketball Reference. Orlando also shot 45.5 percent from the field and 35 percent from the three-point line, while allowing its opponents to shoot 46 percent from the field along with 35.9 percent from beyond the arc. They also need to improve their rebounding, as they tied for 18th in rebound differential (minus-1.0) and were tied for 17th with just 10.3 offensive rebounds a game.
Vucevic had a slight drop in production this season in comparison to his career season in 2014-15. Still, the 25-year-old, 7-footer, produced 29 double-doubles and averaged 18.2 points along with 8.9 rebounds. Oladipo and Fournier averaged 16.5 points and 15 points, respectively, but they were the only other players to average double-figures besides Payton, who averaged 10.7 points a game.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) May 27, 2016
Oladipo and Fournier had excellent second-half seasons, as did Gordon. Gordon, who took over Tobias Harris’ starting spot after he was traded, averaged 12 points and 7.3 rebounds after the All-Star break. Gordon averaged 9.5 points, along with 6.5 rebounds and shot 47.3 percent from the field for the season.
Hezonja had an up-and-down rookie season but finished the season strong, averaging 10 points, 3 assists, along with 2.9 points in seven April games. The 21-year-old also shot 50.9 percent from the floor and 44 percent from beyond the arc in the final month of the season.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic potentially opened up nearly $25 million in salary cap space with their mid-season trades of Harris to Detroit and Channing Frye to Cleveland. Orlando will have between $34 million and $47 million in cap space available this summer according to ESPN. In order for the Magic to reach their maximum cap space, they will have to waive Ersan Ilyasova and renounce the cap holds on Brandon Jennings, Dewayne Dedmon, Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith. Ilyasova and Devyn Marble have partial/non-guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.
“We’ve got cap flexibility to add a key veteran or two or three,” Vogel said.
Jennings and Smith will be unrestricted free agents this offseason. In the meanwhile, Dedmon along with Nicholson and Fournier are slated to be restricted free agents. Inquisitr previously reported that re-signing Fournier was a major priority this offseason for the Magic.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) May 23, 2016
If Orlando does end up with $46 million in available cap space, their wish list will likely include a power forward that can score, add depth to the frontcourt — preferably someone who can protect the rim — and a wing player that is a 3 and D type player.
Al Horford (Atlanta), David West (San Antonio) and Joakim Noah (Chicago) are a few frontcourt players who the Magic reportedly could target. Orlando could also pursue Marvin Williams (Charlotte), Chandler Parsons (Dallas), Darrell Arthur (Denver), Marreese Speights (Golden State), Timofgey Mozgov (Cleveland), Jordan Hill and Ian Mahinmi (Indiana), or Jared Dudley (Washington). Parsons and Arthur would have to opt-out of their player options in order to become unrestricted free agents.
Orlando could also look to add depth to its front court via the draft as the Magic have three draft picks this year: No. 11, No. 41 and No. 47. Chad Ford of ESPN has Orlando selecting Skal Labissiere of Kentucky with their first round pick while Walter Football has them selecting Jakob Poeltl (Utah) with the No. 11 pick and Malcolm Brogden (Virginia) and Juan Hernangomez (Spain) in the second round. In the meantime, Bleacher Report has Orlando taking Michigan State’s power forward/center Deyonta Davis in the first round.
[Photo by Paul Newberry/Associated Press]