The rebuilding efforts of the Orlando Magic are beginning to bear fruit, their 34-44 record at the time of writing notwithstanding. Over the past two seasons, the Magic have accrued a plethora of high-potential youngsters who should only get better as time goes by. With Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, two players at the heart of the Magic’s quest to regain their status as one of the league’s best, being just 20 and 21 years old, respectively, the Magic could very well pull a rabbit out of their collective hat and make the playoffs as soon as next season as presently constructed.
And it’s not like the Magic have just Banchero and Wagner, two versatile tall young forwards who can do it all on offense, to lead the way. The Magic have the likes of Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony, and Jalen Suggs as core members who surely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Fultz’ breakout, in particular, has been such a sight to see. Much maligned for his inability to live up to expectations as the number one overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the guard out of Washington has proven himself. This has especially been the case as of late, as he has emerged as an exceptional, two-way floor general, with room to grow to spare should he improve his jumpshot even further.
At the end of the day, there remains one position in the starting lineup where the Magic can improve: at shooting guard. Suggs could very well become the answer, but a backcourt between him and Fultz won’t be particularly adept at spacing the floor. Meanwhile, Anthony is too undersized for the position.
Thus, these are three trade targets the Magic must set their sights on as they continue their ascent.
Acquiring Jaylen Brown would take a lot of young prospects and draft assets, and yet the Celtics star will be well worth the price. At the age of 26, Brown is currently in the middle of his best season as a professional, averaging a career-best 26.7 points per night despite playing second-fiddle to Jayson Tatum on most nights.
Of course, it’s difficult to envision the Celtics trading away Brown, unless circumstances beyond their control force their hand. But there have been rumblings regarding Brown’s potential unrest with the franchise, especially after he found himself as the subject of a hypothetical blockbuster trade that would have brought Kevin Durant to Beantown.
And if Brown’s disenchantment with the franchise proves to be more than just senseless noise, the Magic should do well to capitalize by adding one of the best two-way wings in the game.
The Magic own all their future first-round picks, and they have another potential lottery pick coming from the Chicago Bulls, so they’re in as good a position as any team to swing a deal for a disgruntled star. In addition to those picks, they could dangle the likes of Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, and perhaps even Franz Wagner if they’re confident in their ability to re-sign Brown when his deal is up.
While Jaylen Brown is unlikely to be traded away as it is, Mikal Bridges is someone who’s even more unlikely to move teams only mere months after the Brooklyn Nets acquired him in the Kevin Durant trade. In addition to being one of the best defenders in the game today, Bridges has unlocked a new level of offensive production as the playoff-bound Nets’ best player.
However, it won’t hurt anyone if the Magic tried to float a few calls towards the Nets front office and ask what it would take to pry one of the best two-way wings in the league.
A potential lineup of Bridges, Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, and Wendell Carter Jr. should make Magic fans drool over the place; that lineup possesses incredible size, length, defense, and playmaking, as well as borderline unprecedented versatility.
It may take a king’s ransom to acquire the Nets’ newest star, but that addition should make the Magic, at worst, a surefire playoff team, a — perhaps even for years to come.
Zach LaVine may not possess the two-way brilliance of the first two potential trade targets, but what LaVine has is the ability to put the ball through the hoop at an elite level.
LaVine also found himself as the subject of plenty of trade rumors throughout the 2022-23 season; even with the Bulls looking like a lock for the 2023 play-in tournament, they could very well decide to sell if things go south once more.
If the Bulls do indeed revisit the prospect of trading LaVine away, the Magic should be all over that idea like ants over an exposed bowl of sugar.
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