The Orlando Magic don’t have any big time decisions to make with their own players this offseason, but it is important to work smartly around the fringes.
It is no secret that the Orlando Magic are locked into the roster that they have right now. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, how quickly fans forget about the mess that the last decade was for the organization.
But it is also fair to say that what this group is, a seventh or eighth seed at a time when even that might not be good enough to make the playoffs soon, leaves little room for hope or excitement. The Magic are stuck in arguably the worst place you can be in the NBA, and it took a lot of work just to get there.
While a blockbuster trade of any kind doesn’t look like it is on the horizon, and when you consider what it is out there and available, that isn’t such a bad thing either, the franchise must remember to work around the fringes of the roster as best they can. By doing this and bringing back the right guys, they will be better positioned to move up the standings in the future.
None of the core players on this team are even restricted free agents. Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac are going nowhere unless it is in a trade. While there is comfort to be taken in that, the stability that the Magic have with these guys and head coach Steve Clifford coming back for a third year together, there is still work to be done.
Two players who almost certainly will be back as well are Evan Fournier and James Ennis. Both have player options for next season, and in an uncertain climate would be mad to walk away from guaranteed money. Especially Fournier, who will make $17 million and despite being an ideal player for a contending team isn’t going to make close to that if he were to move to one.
In order to improve the Magic are going to have to see what free agents are out there and available and try and entice them to Orlando. They also need to make sure that the guys they have who have helped the rosette and who are able to walk come back.
D.J. Augustin – Sell
There is no room for sentimentality in the NBA if you want to improve, which is why point guard D.J. Augustin should be allowed to leave the team. Augustin has been a brilliant servant to the Magic and he found a home there after bouncing around the league as a backup for many years before then.
Augustin has spent four seasons with the Magic and has been easily the most consistent presence they have had as a floor general since Jameer Nelson wore the pinstriped blue. Many people, this writer included, felt that Augustin was qualified as a starter for the team.
Yet to date he has started 150 of 291 games played for the franchise, going so far as to hit the biggest shot in nearly 10 years for the Magic when his game-winner gave the Magic a 1-0 lead over the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.
Augustin was there when the Magic needed them, forming a great partnership with Vucevic and being the ideal veteran to usher them into a new era of trying to compete again. He has done so while shooting 38.8 percent from deep for an organization that badly needed floor spacing and better offensive play.
But the time has come for him to move on, and really the wheels for this were in motion at the start of last season. The arrival of Markelle Fultz was one thing, but he quickly showed that he is the long-term solution for the Magic at the point guard position. Augustin was moved back to the bench soon after, and to his credit has never complained and looked to help Fultz.
If you’re running a team with your heart, maybe you bring Augustin back on an extremely team-friendly contract. But if you want to get better and to win, you realize that at 32-years-old Augustin, who is undersized for his position, will never get any better and has given more than we ever expected. Hopefully, he can find a fringe contender to pay him for a couple more years as a third guard, and he would leave as a cult figure of the organization.