As part of the sign-and-trade deal that allowed Kevin Durant to join the Brooklyn Nets, former Nets guard D’Angelo Russell moved to the Golden State Warriors earlier this month, where he is expected to start alongside Stephen Curry in the backcourt while Klay Thompson recovers from an ACL injury. However, that hasn’t prevented his name from popping up in trade rumors and suggested trade scenarios, including one that could send him to the Orlando Magic for one of their better players, as well as a former No. 1 overall draft pick who hasn’t played much since joining the league.
On Saturday, Bleacher Report‘s Andy Bailey compiled a list of four teams that could arguably be considered “losers” in the 2019 free agency period thus far, suggesting trades that could help improve each of these teams greatly. While Bailey pointed out that the Magic did well in re-signing center Nikola Vucevic and wingman Terrence Ross and adding former Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu in free agency, he added that the team could avoid the possibiltiy of being stuck in “mediocrity” by acquiring Russell from the Warriors for forward Aaron Gordon and guard Markelle Fultz.
According to Bailey, D’Angelo Russell could be a better fit on the Orlando Magic, as the 23-year-old point guard is eight years younger and far more productive than erstwhile starter D.J. Augustin. He added that swapping Russell for Gordon and Fultz could “bring balance to both squads” — while the Warriors’ backcourt appears to be overloaded at the moment. Orlando, on the other hand, could have a logjam at one or both forward spots as Gordon, Aminu, and former lottery pick Jonathan Isaac fight for quality minutes.
Talking about the timing and ramifications of the hypothetical Warriors/Magic trade, Bleacher Report‘s Bailey wrote that such a deal could only be carried out by December 15, due to the NBA’s rules on summer acquisitions in free agency. But if the trade pushes forward, he added that the Magic could find themselves with a long-term solution at point guard who could start alongside Ross and Evan Fournier at the wing positions, Isaac at power forward, and Vucevic at center.
As for the Warriors, Bailey opined that a starting lineup with Curry and a healthy Thompson in the backcourt, Gordon at power forward, and Draymond Green at center could be reminiscent of the “small-ball” lineups Golden State used to field before Kevin Durant joined the team in the summer of 2016.
The above piece from Bleacher Report didn’t shed much light on Fultz, the former first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft who has played only 33 career games due to injuries and has yet to suit up for the Magic. Per Basketball-Reference, Fultz started 15 out of 19 games and averaged just 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists for Philadelphia before he was traded to Orlando midway through the 2018-19 season.