Orlando Magic: Quiet Trade Deadline The Right Move
The Orlando Magic had a quiet trade deadline, adding only Terrence Ross to their roster. It looks like it was the right move in the long run.
For the Orlando Magic, the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline came and went without any additional activity — this despite many feeling the team would be involved in multiple trade discussions, from the insignificant to the huge blockbuster deals.
While a lot of fans wanted to see a more significant shake-up, it should be noted that we will likely still see more moves made this summer.
In the meantime, the remainder of the season will likely be used as an audition to see who will be a part of this core going forward.
Some players are already taking their chance. But making no other moves at the deadline looks to have been a smart play on the part of general manager Rob Hennigan.
This begins with the reduced value teams can get at that time of year, such as how the New Orleans Pelicans fleeced the Sacramento Kings of DeMarcus Cousins.
Nikola Vucevic for example, this team’s most consistent player, likely would have been the subject of some underwhelming offers. Contending teams want to get better, but they don’t want to disrupt their own cores.
It’s why teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers will turn to waived and bought out players before giving up a significant piece for another player.
It’s too risky, with the Raptors being about as close as a team got in the East to doing this (and really, Ross wasn’t a key figure there anyway).
Thursday night’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers showcased another, more optimistic reason that this team was right to keep the players they have. They played well together.
Rob Hennigan: “We look to be active and aggressive at the NBA trade deadline.”
Orlando Magic Fans: pic.twitter.com/phebL011H8
— Steven Phelps (@P_H_E_L_P_S) February 23, 2017
In fact, there was a fluidity offensively that we haven’t seen much this season, as well as a team wide effort on the defensive end.
Is this all down to the addition of Ross? No, but he brought with him a renewed sense of hope when he took to the court. He also added much needed spacing to the court, and his vision in looking to set up his teammates (particularly Vucevic) was a side to his game we hadn’t quite seen before.
All told he finished with 13 points and five rebounds. He added only a single assist, but that was as much down to his teammate’s finishing than anything else.
The guy can pass a ball about as well as anybody else on this team. He also took eight three-point attempts, an almost unheard amount for this team. He only made two of them, but he kept the Trail Blazers honest, stretching the floor in a way that this team really needed.
It had a positive effect on Aaron Gordon too, as he recorded nine points and nine rebounds in his more preferred power forward position. Not huge numbers, but he was extremely active on the glass, and looked more comfortable on the court.
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The same was also true of Mario Hezonja, who had 10 points and was a perfect 2-for-2 from long range.
He also posted a game rating of +7, with each starter having a minus figure beside their name by game’s end.
It was an encouraging sign for a guy who has been left on the bench a lot this season. That made the 25 minutes he logged all the more encouraging (his season average is 11.7).
Again, we can’t attribute all of this to the arrival of Ross. But it looks like the team has listened to head coach Frank Vogel’s demands to treat the remainder of the season as if they were 0-0 again.
The team also lost the game, despite looking untroubled and in control of the Trail Blazers for three quarters. They also held the lead from late in the first quarter until midway through the fourth. Closing out games just became an issue once more.
But the attitude of the players and the vibe of the team, everything just felt better. Like the pieces were finally starting to fit together.
Make no mistake, choices will have to be made this summer and players will be moved on. But it looks like these young guns aren’t going to go down without a fight.
Is that detrimental to their chances of landing a high pick in the lottery? Yes, but if that’s still their goal, this team is headed in the wrong direction.
They could lose the rest of their games and still not have one of the three worst records in the league, so thinking in that way is not healthy for this team.
But it was nice to see some fight in this team, and some smiling faces throughout the contest as well.
Hezonja staked his claim for more minutes, but Elfrid Payton also showed why the team may need to think twice before moving on from having him run the show.
His nine points, two rebounds and three assists did not turn heads. But defensively he chased both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum diligently. He snaked into the lane for some pretty buckets, and his ability to dribble the ball through traffic isn’t talked about enough.
Before it was less appreciated with Ibaka nearby. But with Ross out there at the three-point line and Vucevic and his footwork beside him to offload, it becomes more dangerous — a small insight and interesting development to watch as this team tries to finish out the season on a high.
Terrence Ross does not fix all of the Orlando Magic’s problems, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be a long-term solution for this team.
But with his arrival at least, the team have a new sense of purpose in how they finish out this season.
We only have a tiny sample size to go with, but they look a lot more cohesive on the court too.
They’re still losing games, but the manner in which they are doing so is less frustrating than the first two-thirds of the season.
Right now that has to be enough for this team and its fans.