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While the Orlando Magic have performed admirably early on this season, winning is not the short-term goal of this team and the better-than-expected performance likely won’t continue.
Orlando’s top three trade assets are Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, and Glen Davis. It’s a triumvirate of solid veteran contributors that can appeal to teams with different positional needs. The biggest reason for Orlando to make a deal (or two) is to increase their odds at the top pick in a loaded 2014 draft.
The most desired prize for Orlando is a first round pick, but most teams will be loathed to give one away in the upcoming draft. The best chance of getting a pick may come from dealing Nelson, Afflalo, and Davis to contenders that need some depth and will end up with a pick in the 20s. The alternative, getting a young player with potential, also comes from these teams who would rather make a push for the title now than build for the coming years.
Of course, salaries in a deal need to match up, which means the Magic would likely be getting something back other than the real asset they want. Other teams will probably look to offload some unwanted salary in a deal.
The framework of most possible trades has Orlando giving up one of the aforementioned three vets for a pick or young player and a salary dump. That’s the ideal scenario for the Magic.
Nelson’s contract is the largest of the three, but because it is only partially guaranteed next year, a team can pick him up for a boost this season — possibly as a third guard off the bench — and only have to pay him $2 million the next year. That essentially amounts to an expiring contract when you take into account the minimal cost of waiving him prior to the start of next season.
Finding a trade partner for him is tough, though, because of the oversaturation of cheap, competent back-up point guards around the league. Indiana has C.J. Watson, Memphis has Nick Calathes and Jerryd Bayless, and Chicago has Kirk Hinrich.
It isn’t the worst thing in the world if Nelson stays with the Magic, as he won’t make too big of a difference in the win column and is a stabilizing veteran presence.
New Orleans and Washington are both on the fringe of the playoffs with sorely lacking big man rotations. The trouble with these two teams is the lack of attractive assets they can offer to Orlando in return for Glen Davis. Neither team owns a first round pick this season, which leaves the Magic to choose between the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu, Austin Rivers, and Trevor Booker. Davis’ murky return date could put off some teams who want an immediate boost, too.
Afflalo is the most valuable of the three Magic players, especially with his flaming hot start to this season. He’s sporting a 21.4 PER and .621 True Shooting percentage – both career-highs. Afflalo struggled offensively last season, but that was mainly a function of him being thrust into a role he wasn’t ready for.
This season, he looks far more prepared to handle the rigors of being the No. 1 option for the Magic on offense. That being said, on a contender as a third or fourth option, he could really thrive with his improved shot creation skills.
The team I keep coming back to when looking at Afflalo is Memphis. He provides the shooting on the wing that they so desperately need — Quincy Pondexter is the only option right now — and he adds more off-the-bounce creativity.
In terms of trade assets, Memphis has Ed Davis and their first round pick this year. Davis is only playing 13 minutes a game in Memphis, but he can be a really good player, as evidence by his 18.1 PER with the Toronto Raptors last season before being traded to Memphis at the deadline. The Grizz could also dump Tayshaun Prince’s contract ($7.2 million) in a deal.
We’re still months away from the trade deadline, but there have already been rumors surrounding Nelson. Don’t be surprised if when the rumor mill really starts whirring, all three of these players are involved.