The Orlando Magic could go in any number of directions this summer, but should inquiring about Kevin Love be one of them?
For the Orlando Magic, nobody is quite sure which direction the front office will take the team this summer. The most likely outcome is that they will continue their rebuild, but get a little bit better in the process.
With that being said, they have a couple of decisions to make that could indicate a desire to begin to turn the roster into one that can win more games.
The two moves they can make that would influence this would be trading the sixth pick in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft, or they could choose not to match any offers that come restricted free agent Aaron Gordon‘s way (despite the fact that the team would get nothing in return for a player who improved offensively last season).
But what would it take for the Magic to think hard about going through with one of those options? Could the sudden availability of Kevin Love from the Cleveland Cavaliers force them into action?
Love has been the subject of trade rumors for years now, but this summer may see him actually get dealt to a new team.
This is because LeBron James may have played his last game in Cleveland as well. If Love became available because of this and the Magic showed interest in him, he would become their best player since Dwight Howard.
People have short memories, and Love sacrificed elements of his game to fit next to James. But in a previous life with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was one of the most dominant big men in the league.
His rebounding and passing skill-set is the kind that the Magic could only dream of. You might have forgotten, but Love averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game during his time in Minnesota.
There have also been rumblings by Magic fans this summer that they’d be fine with moving on from Gordon in an attempt to start another, more successful, rebuild.
But what if moving on from Gordon could include getting Love as well? This would involve a sign-and-trade where the team sends Gordon to the Cavaliers in exchange for Love.
You have to think the Cavs would jump at that prospect, since their roster, as it is currently constructed, would be a hollow shell without James. In fact, it’s not much more than that with him either.
This would give Cleveland a young forward in Gordon on a long-term deal, as well as the eighth pick in this year’s draft to build around.
They also have other young players Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood. Admittedly, so far those three have shown they leave a lot to be desired as a relatively young core to build around.
However, adding Gordon and a lottery pick to the mix would help. It would leave the Cavaliers in a better position than the last time James left, with their rebuild already underway.
But why would the Magic want to commit to being a borderline playoff team and not much more with Love rather than the younger Gordon?
The team needs some sort of star to build around, and at 29 years old, the argument could be made that Love is only entering his prime now, despite a checkered injury history to date.
With the sixth overall pick, the team could then add a point guard like Trae Young (assuming he’s still available) to pair with Love and Jonathan Isaac.
Former general manager Rob Hennigan may have left the organization locked into a bland and incoherent roster when he left, but the end of the tunnel is on the horizon.
If Love is already in place, Isaac continues on from his promising-but-disrupted-by-injury rookie season and a third lottery pick is put in place too, Orlando looks like a more appealing place to play than it has for most of this decade.
Another crazier strategy would be to make the Love deal and then give the Sacramento Kings a call. An organization that are apparently open to moving down in this summer’s draft.
If they’re serious about doing this, the Magic could force their way into the conversation to draft European starlet Luka Doncic. A core of Gordon, Isaac and the sixth pick is something, but the prospect of a trio of Love, Isaac and Doncic is the more appealing of the two.
Add in the ability to trade Nikola Vucevic for something of value, as well as the movable contract of veteran Jonathon Simmons to a contender (making $7 million next season) and the roster is revamped.
So what is stopping this deal from being done? Well, it would have to be a brave move on the Orlando Magic’s part, signaling a shift in their rebuilding efforts and getting older by moving on from Gordon to Love. They’d avoid overpaying for their current 22-year-old star, taking the surer thing.
It would also mean they have some degree of confidence that with LeBron James hopefully plying his trade in the Western Conference, the path to even getting to a conference finals is easier.
Don’t tell the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers that, though. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, they’d have a young player to build around themselves long-term, and one that has shown promise.
It makes some sense for both sides, and considering we’re about to head into a summer that will make no sense at all at times, that has to count for something.