The Orlando Magic have not had the success this season they hoped after bringing back almost the exact same roster from last year that overachieved en route to the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference.
This year the Magic are 23-31, still on pace for making the playoffs as the eighth seed thanks to how miserable the bottom half of the East is, but behind where they hoped to be coming off a 42-40 record. As such, there’s apparently some internal discussion about shaking up their roster, most notably including Aaron Gordon, who is in the second year of a 4-year, $84 million contract.
Gordon’s fit with the Magic has been shaky at best for some time, with Nikola Vucevic emerging as the team’s best player — and being rewarded with a $100 million deal this past summer — and Jonathan Isaac appearing to be the future as his frontcourt partner. Gordon, meanwhile, is a tweener forward that has never looked super comfortable at the three and hasn’t developed the outside shooting touch to excel from that spot and the congestion of the Magic offense is notable when those three share the floor.
Isaac is out currently and as such Gordon gets more opportunities to play at a more comfortable position, but according to Heavy’s Sean Deveney, the Magic were working hard before the deadline to find a trade for him.
As one source told Heavy.com, “They were trying, and they tried hard to get something done with him at the deadline. All that gets brought back into focus once the season is over and you have a good idea what the market is for him.”
Deveney notes that the Timberwolves, Suns, and Warriors were all involved in discussions, with Minnesota and Golden State of course ending up working out the massive D’Angelo Russell for Andrew Wiggins swap. The question is whether those teams would still get involved. Gordon’s contract was frontloaded, so the final two years are only worth $34.5 million and dealing him this summer would be an even easier financial pill for teams to swallow.
The Timberwolves, should James Johnson pick up his option, would have that as the only real contract that they can use to match Gordon, given that Russell and Towns are untouchable and Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner’s deals are expiring. Johnson plus a pick might be something the Magic would consider, if the goal is to move off Gordon’s deal and open up a bit more flexibility and add a young player.
Golden State would seem out of the running, unless they want to flip Wiggins immediately for Gordon and filler. The Suns were reportedly having trade discussions about Kelly Oubre ahead of the deadline and his deal would come close to matching Gordon’s this summer, and Oubre would appear to be a better positional fit with the Magic if they want to revive talks over the summer.
Other teams that might make sense to pursue Gordon would be the Blazers — a team that could be looking for a forward upgrade this summer — and possibly the Nuggets if Paul Millsap goes elsewhere in free agency. Whatever the case, in a summer where cap space is limited and the free agent class is relatively weak in terms of top level talent, Gordon is the type of player that teams that feel they have a need at forward might chase to upgrade their talent.