The recent Phoenix Suns trade, sending Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers for Miles Plumlee and a 2014 first-rounder, was a great move for the rebuilding Suns. Considering their lottery-bound projection, the Suns don’t have much value in the aging Scola and acquired two nice pieces in return, as the 2014 draft is one of the most anticipated in recent memory.
The Scola situation in Phoenix is similar to that of Glen Davis and the Orlando Magic. With Big Baby being much younger and debatably more productive at this stage in their respective careers, the Magic could pull off a trade like this, possibly netting even more.
Thanks to his age, Big Baby holds even more value than Scola, and the Magic should take advantage of this trade bait as soon as possible. The logjam that is the Orlando Magic power forward position only helps the case. Davis takes playing time away from some developing players, including young prospect Tobias Harris. Davis is not in Orlando’s long-term plans and the Magic need to address this, as he locks up some valuable cap space.
The question is, who are the suitors that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan could be looking to deal with in this type of a trade? While his injury does not help his stock, the market for a big man who can score off the bench should still be deep. The Magic may choose to hold on to Davis until the trade deadline nears, although, given his play last season, I think playoff-bound teams won’t have a problem allowing Davis to sit for the beginning portion of the regular season. Unfortunately, that Dwight Howard trade exception expired on the Hennigan, which would have undoubtedly helped facilitate any such trade. Still, a win-win situation should not be hard to find as Davis is widely respected for his heart and hustle.
One possible candidate is Austin Rivers of the New Orleans Pelicans. Yes, he underperformed in his rookie year, but he was a top 10 pick and is oozing with potential. He’s a hometown kid and the son of one of the best coaches in the league, which can only help in his development. Imagine eating Sunday dinner with your family and the topic of discussion is how to draw up and execute a play with three seconds remaining on the shot clock.
Rivers isn’t going to be a superstar, but he could develop into the sixth man scoring role similar to how J.R. Smith and Jarrett Jack have found so much success. He has combo guard skills that allow for flexibility on the court as well.
Rivers has found himself buried deep in the Pelicans depth chart and may be acquirable on the cheap. After trading away Robin Lopez, there is a need for a big man in the Pelican’s rotation. While I wouldn’t say they are ready to compete for a championship this year, New Orleans is on the verge of becoming an NBA power if everything goes well with Tyreke Evans. Davis, at age 27, would fit in well and could greatly impact the clubhouse from a leadership and work ethic standpoint. Rivers, at 21, would be a great fit for the young Magic squad and is still on the rookie contract that Hennigan values so much.
A trade that brings in a guy like Austin Rivers has lots of benefits. First is the obvious potential that Rivers would bring to the Magic’s already young core. Second, it would free up Arron Afflalo to be traded if that is a route the Magic wish to take. Third, and probably most importantly, the Magic would clear cap space.
In light of the Philadelphia 76ers’ acquisition of Tony Wroten from the Memphis Grizzlies for essentially a trade exception (the conditional pick will probably end up being used by Philadelphia), the value of young guards compared to proven big men really shines through. Most importantly, what the trades of Tony Wroten and Luis Scola tell Magic fans is that there are potential roster moves looming, if not before the season starts then certainly before the trade deadline. There are many more prospects the Magic could look into acquiring other than just Rivers, and in the end Hennigan would do well to make some major moves that will net the Magic some young pieces, cap space and/or draft picks.