While they did make the playoffs two straight seasons in 2019 and 2020, it seems like the Orlando Magic have been rebuilding for quite some time.
They were never really threats in the Eastern Conference with Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, hence why they traded all three players away in 2021.
Now, the Magic have an abundance of young talents and future assets via draft picks, but their upside does look a little limited right now, especially given how strong the Eastern Conference looked this season.
The Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers are young teams on the rise in the conference and with a handful of championship contenders, the Magic are going to have a tough time these next few years assembling a roster that is good enough to be a “contender” in the East.
Plus, it will not be easy persuading top-tier talents to come to Orlando, especially given that the Magic have not won a playoff series since 2010 and due to the fact that they have had just one winning season since 2013.
When you are a young team like the Magic, things just take extra time.
Right now, they have a really strong young core intact with Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and others, but what is the “next step” for this franchise? Can they make some moves in the offseason to set themselves up for a chance to earn a Play-In Tournament spot during the 2022-23 season?
Let’s take a look at some key questions the Orlando Magic’s front-office will be talking about all offseason long, some of which could drastically change this franchise.
What is Mo Bamba’s “Price Tag?”
The big man market in the offseason is not very vast, but Mo Bamba is a key free agent that nobody seems to be talking about.
Coming off of a career-year in which he averaged career-highs in points (10.6), rebounds (8.1), blocks (1.7) and three-point shooting percentage (38.1%), Bamba has finally proven that he can live up to the hype of being a former No. 6 pick in the NBA Draft.
Set to be a restricted free agent, the Magic do have the ability to match any offer Mo Bamba could see when free agency begins, but the big question facing the young center is what is his value right now?
Mo Bamba proved to be a factor for the Magic this past season and at 23-years-old, he is only going to get better, but how much money will Orlando and other teams be willing to pay him?
He is not going to see a max contract extension and will not be offered $20 million-plus per year on his next contract, but Bamba could very well see an offer similar to the extension that Wendell Carter Jr. signed this season with the Magic.
Four-years at $50 million in total seems like a very fair offer for both sides and it is also possible that the two sides could come to an agreement on a three-year, $35 million to $45 million deal.
Bamba has proven his worth to the Magic, but with them having Wendell Carter Jr, in the frontcourt, as well as Jonathan Isaac working his way back from injury, the organization will most likely not want to exceed an annual value of $13 million per year on Bamba’s next contract.
Overall though, what teams show interest in Mo Bamba and how much the Magic are willing to pay him remain two key aspects of the Orlando Magic’s offseason.
Is Jonathan Isaac Expendable?
One of the biggest mysteries of the Orlando Magic heading into the offseason is the status of Jonathan Isaac and if he will ever step foot on the court for this team again.
Skill-wise, Isaac will definitely play in the NBA again, but with the Magic having Wendell Carter Jr. and possibly bringing back Mo Bamba on a new deal, where does this leave Jonathan Isaac?
Through four years in the NBA now, Isaac has only played in a total of 136 games and he sat out the entire 2021-22 season not only due to rehabbing from his ACL surgery, but due to undergoing right hamstring surgery to address a minor issue that became a problem during his ACL rehab.
Jonathan Isaac has gone through a lot injury-wise early on in his career and moving forward, durability is definitely going to be a question mark for him.
Having three more years left on his contract and set to make $52.2 million through the 2024-25 season, Jonathan Isaac’s future is definitely in doubt right now and it would not be shocking to see the Magic try to trade him.
At 24-years-old and proving to be a two-way factor when healthy and on the floor, Isaac’s market could be bigger than many would imagine.
His contract is fairly affordable for teams around the league and standing 6’11” with a 7’0” wingspan, Jonathan Isaac still has a lot of potential to grow into something special.
Trading him or keeping him is a risky move at this point for the Magic, which is why it will be extremely interesting to see what they decide in regards to his future.
Can Orlando Add Talent Through the Draft & Trades?
The Orlando Magic own three draft picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, two of which will be early on in the second-round.
Owning their own first-round pick that will be no worse than sixth overall, the Magic will have yet another chance to add a high-level prospect to their roster.
This season, rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner solidified their spot in this team’s core and now, the Magic have a chance to end up with one of the best players in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Not to mention, they could potentially package their two early second-round picks and someone like veteran Terrence Ross or Jonathan Isaac to either move up in the draft for another first-round pick or who knows, maybe Orlando will go “big game hunting” for once on the trade market.
The options for the Magic to change their roster this offseason are endless, but at the same time, who exactly can they add?
Draft-wise, the Magic will end up with one of the better prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft, but in terms of free agency and the trade market, it is hard to imagine that any top-tier talents will want to sign/join the Magic.
They are trending in the right direction as a franchise and have some appealing young talents, however, this team is still a few years away from being a threat in the Eastern Conference.
The only thing Orlando can continue to do is find success in the draft.
Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba form a really solid young core and with Jonathan Isaac on the mend and a top-tier pick coming to this team in the offseason, the Magic will end up having one of the better young cores in the league next season.
Player development will prove to be key once again in the offseason, as the Magic will have a hard time going after bigger names available in free agency and on the trade block.
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