What’s next, Orlando?

The NBA playoffs continue to roll along but my interest level has declined significantly. I often think to myself, “What if the Magic were still in it?” Alas, we are not, after being eliminated by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors 4-1 in the first round. Am I sad? Of course! I am not disappointed, though. This Orlando team, which won 42 games this season after only winning 25 last season, is a team on the rise.

What is next? Between expiring contracts, a top-heavy draft, and having an excited fan base, the Magic have a lot on their plate. Unfortunately for them, this isn’t Thanksgiving. Some tough decisions will need to be made.

Magic Game vs Charlotte, Feb. 14, 2019.
Mike and I at the Charlotte game in February.

Free Agent Nikola Vucevic

The first task is deciding what to do with first-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Putting up career-high numbers (20.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG), Nikola was a threat on offense all season. I was thinking about saving my Keith’s Take for a podcast episode, but I don’t want to hold back. Here goes! I think the Magic should let Vucevic walk, or at least let him explore free agency. Now, before you throw the book at me, hear me out! Vucevic has been excellent for us. His offensive game has expanded each year, his defense has shown glimmers of improvement, and he has become a leader on this young roster. That being said, I don’t think he fits in with the direction the team is going. The team we are building is athletic. A team that can blitz you. A team that can switch and recover. A team where the player playing the 4 can cover point and vice versa. Nik doesn’t fit that mold. He’s an excellent half-court player, and fits perfectly with DJ Augustin’s role with the team. DJ won’t put up the same numbers he did this season and I don’t think Nik will either. I love the guy, I really do. I would love to see him stay in the pinstripes forever. I think in order to take that next step, we need to give the reigns to Mo Bamba.

Free Agent Khem Birch

Re-sign him. If Nikola departs, Khem brought energy and hustle every night when Bamba was sidelined with injuries. He will get you a few buckets, grab a half dozen boards, and block a pair of shots. But it’s what does not show up on the stat sheet that defines Khem’s game.

Free Agent Terrence Ross

Bring back the Human Torch. The leader of our second unit was lights out this season, shooting .383 from deep. He put up career highs in almost every main statistical category COMING OFF THE BENCH. He fits the system. He has a great nickname. His shot is pure (Magic). Why not?

tross
So pure. (Getty)

NBA Draft

This draft will be highlighted by Zion Williamson, we all know that. What should the Magic do? My wish is to get another G/F, or just a straight up point guard. The problem is, this draft is not super deep. The first pick is back in the 19th spot, a different spot for this team in recent history. I will write another article highlighting the potential suitors for the team.

This off-season will be crazy. There could potentially be a ton of moves and there could possibly be close to zero moves. The goal is to set up the remaining pieces to continue the success we had this season, but we all know this team can collapse on command if they want to. No matter what comes of the team, I’ll still stay Magic strong. I still get chills watching DJ drain the three over Marc Gasol to take game one of the series. I want more of that, and I think we will get it. Stay patient, my Magic comrades.