Culture of Hoops

Orlando Magic: Early-season trade speculation


A new season is finally upon us, and with that comes all the thrills of trade speculation. This year looks to be more active than years past, especially taking into account the number of offseason and preseason deals. The trade deadline is when most deals go down, and though there have already been a number of deals, there’s almost assuredly many more to come.

Looking at the Orlando Magic in particular, it can be said with much confidence that general manager Rob Hennigan has a few trades up his sleeve. The only unknown that remains is the timing of the deals. On one hand, Hennigan may continue to assess his options and field inquiries up until the trade deadline on February 20th. On the other hand, the GM may just be waiting until some of his assets get a few games under their belts in order to showcase their talents.

Either way, there are a few guys on the current roster that will likely be shipped out by the deadline. The two big names that come to mind are Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo. At this stage in their careers, both Davis and Afflalo don’t fit well with Orlando’s long-term plans. Afflalo is being asked to do too much and looks uncomfortable in his role. Jacque Vaughn would love to give his talented rookie Victor Oladipo as much playing time as possible as well. As long as Afflalo is on the roster, Oladipo will be coming off the bench, and for a team that is not expected to make a run at the playoffs, player development is the key to a successful season.

The same situation applies to Big Baby as Orlando has a pair of young power forwards in Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson who have each shown flashes of potential. A third, less likely name that could be floating around is Jameer Nelson, who could provide some veteran leadership and would be better served as a backup point guard as he’s now entering his 10th year in the league, all in Orlando.

It only makes sense for Hennigan to trade his veterans to contending teams that could use that extra boost, and receive some assets that could grow with Orlando’s core of young players. So without any further ado, here are a number of scenarios that could benefit all teams involved.

Scenario 1:

Now before everyone starts criticizing this trade thinking Monroe is way more valuable than what the Detroit Pistons are getting in return, hear me out. There have been rumors floating around that Detroit will be looking to move the big man from Georgetown who is in the last year of his contract. The basis behind these rumors comes from Monroe’s agent saying he will be testing free agency. On top of this, the Pistons seem to be moving forward with Andre Drummond as their center of the future and just committed $56 million to Josh Smith, who is much better served at the power forward slot that Monroe currently occupies. Instead of letting Monroe walk for nothing, the Pistons will be wise to cash in on their asset while they can. They have quickly assembled a talented squad, and the addition of veterans like Davis and Afflalo might just be what they need to become a serious team in the east. Afflalo will fill a hole in the Pistons roster as he has the size and ability to play both wing positions and Davis can provide some much needed help off the bench.

The Magic, on the other hand, will benefit from this deal as they clear some cap space after Villenueva’s deal expires and will be able to offer Monroe the money he is looking for. He fits in nicely with the Magic culture of youth and versatility, and could form a deadly frontcourt combination with Nikola Vucevic. Most importantly, the Magic receive yet another young player loaded with potential to develop with their core.

Scenario 2:

This three-way deal would be really interesting if executed. The Rockets have been looking to make the Dwight Howard-Omer Asik tandem work out, but it’s only a matter of time before they decide to move Asik in order to bring in someone more compatible with Howard. Not only would Davis serve as a formidable replacement to Asik on the defensive end of the floor and on the boards, but he has developed a nice mid-range jump shot spanning back from his time with the Boston Celtics. On top of that, Davis and Howard are good friends from their AAU days. It’s a strong possibility that the reason Davis is in Orlando in the first place is the Magic were trying to please Howard during the Dwightmare of 2011-12.

The Pelicans receiving Asik would be a huge boost to their roster. New Orleans has two talented power forwards in Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, but Asik adds the muscle necessary if their front line expects to compete in the playoffs. The main piece given up is Austin Rivers and he is buried deep down their depth chart. For this reason, parting ways with him is eased by the assurance of multiple talented guards that are already playing in front of him.

The reason the Magic do this deal is twofold. First, Orlando receives a 21-year-old prospect that, despite underperforming last year, was still the 10th overall selection in the 2012 draft and is oozing with potential. He showed he doesn’t shy away from big games during his time at Duke, and seems to be a perfect fit for Orlando’s young core. The son of one of the NBA’s best coaches, look for Rivers to shake off last year’s struggles and work hard to improve his game. Rob Hennigan loves players that are willing to put the work in necessary to expand their game, and Rivers has been taught this mentality as a young child. He’s also a hometown kid and would quickly become a fan favorite in Orlando. Second, the Magic clear cap room by shedding Davis’ contract essentially for the rookie deal that Rivers is still on, as Jason Smith is in a contract year and will likely not be re-signed.

Scenario 3:

Include in this trade, Orlando receiving a 2014 first-round pick from Cleveland.

We saw a simple two-team trade in Scenario 1 and a more complicated three-team deal in Scenario 2. Why not finish with a complex four-team trade in this third and final scenario that would really shake up the NBA?

The Orlando Magic would love to pick up an additional pick in the loaded 2014 draft to go along with the two they have already accumulated. This is a tough task as not many teams will be willing to part ways with their picks for the same reasons the Magic are looking to acquire one. In this scenario, it is possible the Cavaliers will send their pick to Orlando as they receive a hefty return. On top of receiving a valuable draft pick, the Magic receive two young players with some upside in return for the two veterans they are already shopping. Also, Motiejunas is still on a rookie contract and can be let go after this season if Hennigan decides cap room is more valuable, allowing some flexibility in his future roster.

It has been speculated that the Bulls would like to get Asik back on their roster ever since the trade rumors started in Houston. Bringing in Asik and Afflalo would be a great move for the Bulls as both guys fit right in with the culture in Chicago. Rose could really use a shooting guard that can spot up and shoot the three-ball, and head coach Tom Thibodeau would enjoy the defense both guys bring to the table. Luol Deng is in the last year of his contract and the Bulls are not expected to re-sign him as he would command too much money. Also, Jimmy Butler has developed into a promising player who is better suited at small forward. It makes sense to move Deng before the Bulls see him walk in free agency.

Similar to Scenario 2, the Rockets would enjoy bringing in a guy like Davis who meshes well with Dwight Howard in the Houston frontcourt. While the Rockets do send a couple promising big men in Motiejunas and Jones on top of Asik, the return of Davis and Verejao serves them better if they are looking to make a deep playoff push this year. Aside from the fact that Davis and Howard would be a better fit together, the Rockets also receive a proven and physical guy coming off the bench in Verejao. The one thing that both Davis and Verejao have in common is that they bring a high level of energy to every game, which will pay off dividends when the physical play turns up come playoff time.

The Cavaliers parting ways with Verejao in this deal is partially based on the assumption that the Andrew Bynum project will work out over the course of the next month or two. If Bynum remains healthy and continues to improve, the Cavaliers will be a very dangerous team and might look to boost their lineup before heading to the playoffs. The addition of a guy like Luol Deng does exactly that. Deng has proven himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and has continually improved his offensive game since entering the league. He is a big time player that complements the Cavaliers roster nicely. Add Jones to the mix off the bench and you have a very dangerous team in the East. With this collection of talent around him, Kyrie Irving could look to upset one of the higher ranked teams in the conference.

The possibilities are endless as far as trades are concerned for the Orlando Magic. Rob Hennigan has a great track record in this regard since taking over as the general manager for the Orlando Magic, so look for him to do some wheeling and dealing this year. He has the ability to find a diamond in the rough, a la Tobias Harris. Hennigan’s ability to evaluate talent is supreme, so it would not be surprising if the Magic pull off similar moves with the assets at their disposal this year.

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