The Orlando Magic are having a tough season, and today, things got a little more awkward.
After hiring Frank Vogel to help turn the franchise around, the Magic have staggered to the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, with a 27-50 record as of April 3. The acquisitions of Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, and Bismack Biyombo didn’t result in a playoff run, and Ibaka was traded to the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline.
They have some promising young talent - Aaron Gordon ... okay, things are actually pretty bare. It would seem like the Magic may desperately want to blow up their roster and rebuild in an attempt to secure a better future, and now, the whole league is keen to the players the Magic may target in order to achieve that goal.
The Magic recently signed Patricio Garino, a wing from Argentina, and an agent associated with Garino shared a photo of the exciting moment in the player’s life. Unfortunately, the Magic’s offseason priorities board was on full display behind Garino in the photo, and the Internet never forgets. Bill DiFilippo of Uproxx Sports was able to capture the tween Carlos Prunes sent earlier today.
To see the board blown up, head over to Uproxx Sports by clicking here.
What is of relevance to Nuggets fans are the names at the top - the very top! - of the “hybrid trade” and “hybrid free agency” columns. Three Nuggets are among the first names listed - Juancho Hernangomez, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari.
Let’s breakdown the odds of any of those three joining the Magic next season.
I don’t see that happening. Kevin Pelton of ESPN recently ranked Hernangomez as the second-best prospect from the 2016 draft (Insider access required), and the Spanish forward has been excellent in limited minutes this season.
The Magic would have to blow the Nuggets away with an offer, in my opinion. Many Nuggets fans would be very, very sad.
While it is assumed that the Italian small forward will test free agency, there is still the possibility that he exercises his player option for next season and returns to the Nuggets. If he does that, the Magic would have to trade for Gallinari, who would be on an expiring contract. The price to acquire him in that situation would not be as high as for Chandler.
If Gallinari becomes a free agent, the Magic could use the money they spent on Jeff Green this last season ($15 million - no joke) as a floor for a Gallinari offer. An offer in the range of $60-$80 million over four years would likely be an offer Gallinari would be interested in.
I can see why Orlando would want Gallinari. They have a skilled wing in Evan Fournier, a great defensive center in Biyombo, an athletic forward in Aaron Gordon, and Elfrid Payton. Gallinari would just fill the role of a floor-stretching scoring option, using his playmaking to get points and feed his frontcourt partners. It’s not a bad player for the Magic to consider, even with Gallinari’s injury history.
Lots of Nuggets fans would be sad to see Gallinari leave. But hey, you could watch him play when you go visit DisneyWorld.
This is one option that I could see happening for the Nuggets. The Magic own the rights to the Toronto Raptors 2017 first round draft pick, which will likely be in the 20-26 range. The Magic would probably have to include that pick if they are unable to find a player to send over to the Nuggets.
However, there is a different option the Nuggets could take. While they acquired Mason Plumlee from the Portland Trail Blazers with what seems like the intention to sign him to a new contract in free agency at the end of the season, if another team offers him a rich contract, the Nuggets could swap Chandler for Magic center Nikola Vucevic.
Vucevic is an offensive center, with soft touch on his midrange jumper and good size that helps him on the boards. He’s challenged defensively, unable to cover guards on the perimeter and unable to lockdown the paint. But he’s developed an ability to share the ball (hey, that sounds familiar) and he’s on the books for $25 million over the next two seasons.
Chandler reportedly was unhappy with his role with the Nuggets, and the team may decide that they can replace him with a different player (please not Jeff Green). Maybe where there is smoke, there’s fire.
This is awkward for the Magic. This board isn’t too surprising for people that cover the NBA and have written about free agency. The Magic went after Paul Millsap before, it shouldn’t be surprising that they’d be interested again.
Let’s cross our fingers that something like this doesn’t happen with the Nuggets. With how tight of a ship Tim Connelly runs, it seems unlikely, but you can never be too cautious.