The Orlando Magic are 20-24 and in the midst of a 7 game losing streak, having only won 1 game in their last 10. Their once realistic playoff dreams are quickly turning into a nightmare. General manager Rob Hennigan and head coach Scott Skiles need to do something drastic before the February trade deadline in order to stop this downfall and save the season. My solution… trade for a veteran.
It’s difficult to say a NBA team that’s average age is 24.9—5th in the league—should give up some of it’s young talent to get older, but they NEED to. This team’s inexperience has shown by blowing big 4th quarter leads and losing several games by one possession. They’re also 1-6 in overtime games. The losses are of the variety that don’t happen with experienced teams.
While youth and athleticism is a premium in the Association, and growing pains are part of the deal, that doesn’t mean it needs to serve your purpose on the court, but rather in acquiring other better fits. Now is the time to use the pieces they have to turn this once playoff bound team from a couple of weeks ago, that is now lottery bound, back into a playoff contender.
You don’t need to make a splash that’s going to win national headlines, and cause breaking news alerts or break the internet. Making a move for a franchise player is not the move I’m calling for, more like a vet that is playing out the end of a contract on a team that he’s likely not to resign with, or a strong role player with five or more years of experience. Three names come to mind, and two are former Magic players.
First, power forward Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s averaging 17.4 points per game and grabbing 6.1 rebounds with a PER of 17.6. Anderson was a fan favorite during his time in central Florida and blossomed playing the stretch 4 next to Dwight Howard.
Since he left the Magic his game has gone to another level playing next to another talented big man in Anthony Davis. Lately, he’s been showing the ability to also score tough baskets on the block as evident by his career high 36 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists performance Thursday night against the Sacramento Kings with Davis out of the lineup.
He could do the same playing with Nik Vucevic in place of Channing Frye who’s only giving Orlando 5.5 points a game to go along with 3.2 rebounds. Anderson could also anchor the second unit when Coach Skiles mixes in the rotation players.
The second name that comes to mind is Courtney Lee of the Memphis Grizzlies. Lee was a rookie starter on the Magic team that made the 2009 NBA Finals in his only season in Orlando. Lee has gained valuable big game experience in his time in Memphis, Boston and Houston.
While he averages only 10.2 points a game on 45.3% shooting from the floor and 35.2% from 3-point range, he has made several clutch shots playing off All-Stars Marc Gasol and Zachary Randolph. Lee’s value is greater on the defensive end where the Magic struggle late in games.
The last name is power forward Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets. The 27-year-old is averaging 19.4 points, 5.7 rebounds per game with a PER of 19.8. While he still has 3 years left on his deal, he like Anderson are versatile stretch 4’s that while compliment Vucevic, the main piece in Orlando.
Mixing an older guy with this young talent isn’t a fresh idea to Magic management. In the offseason they tried to remedy this problem when they extended a max offer to the Atlanta Hawks All-Star Paul Milsap—another versatile 4-man, sensing a theme?—during the summer. So I’m not telling them anything new, only now it’s a red alert, or this team will tie the longest playoff drought in franchise history (1989-1992).
Currently the Magic are 12th in the conference and sit 3 games out of the 8th seed in the East playoffs. While 20 wins at this point in the season is an overachievement when you look at the past three seasons. But they’re so close to the playoffs that something has to be done. In my opinion, everyone on the current roster should be on the trading block except Nik Vucevic.