Who is the Orlando Magic’s Best Trade Chip?

Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo is his team’s best trade chip, which is why he could be on the move soon.

Cody Taylor profile picture
Updated 1 year ago on

5 min read

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Draft night in the NBA presents one of the busiest times of the year for general managers, and Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan will be among the busiest. The Magic currently own the No. 4 and No. 12 picks in this month’s draft and figure to be very active all night. The way things play out ahead of the Magic at the fourth pick may very well determine what Hennigan and the Magic do. Having those two picks allows the Magic to listen to incoming offers from teams attempting to trade up and position themselves with possibly one or two more picks in the middle of the first-round.

There has been a lot of speculation about who the Magic could decide to take with their first pick, but given their need for a point guard, Australian point guard Dante Exum is the current favorite to land in Orlando. In recent weeks, the Philadelphia 76ers have been rumored to want to draft Exum to pair up with reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. So if the Magic’s clear-cut guy is Exum and the 76ers draft him, what will the Magic do? If Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker fall to the Magic at four, will they take one of them instead of Exum?

Having two top-12 draft picks, the Magic have plenty of options and could be open to making a trade on draft night. There is reason to believe that there is no one player safe from a trade on the roster unless it’s an offer Hennigan can’t refuse. With the possibility of an active draft night, who might be the best trade option the Magic have to offer?

One name that has been thrown around a lot is Arron Afflalo. This season, Afflalo averaged a career-best 18.2 points per game along with 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists. If the Magic were to draft a guard or wing player like Exum or Parker with the fourth pick, Afflalo could become expendable. Pairing Exum up with Victor Oladipo would solidify the Magic’s backcourt for years to come and thus create an opportunity to part ways with Afflalo. The argument can be made that the time has never been better to trade Afflalo at the high-point of his career. Coming off of his seventh season in the league, Afflalo may be past his prime when the time comes for the Magic to begin winning in a couple of seasons. Many view the Magic as a young team with a bright future, but it may be time to cash in on Afflalo now and allow the younger players to get the meaningful minutes. A starting lineup of Exum, Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Kyle O’Quinn and Nikola Vucevic may be more beneficial to the Magic at this point.

Afflalo could become very attractive to teams that are in need of another scoring option, such as the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have been rumored to want Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love and possible soon-to-be free agent Carmelo Anthony. Should the Bulls falter in acquiring either of those players, Afflalo could become a real option. The Magic could be looking at Carlos Boozer and his expiring contract in return. With the Magic due roughly $22.7 million in cap space this summer, they can afford to bring in Boozer and his $16.5 million contract. The Bulls may also have to throw in one of their two first-round draft picks in a deal like this. The Bulls currently hold the 16th and 19th selections, respectively. The Magic could potentially be looking at the No. 4, No. 12 and No. 16 or No. 19 picks.

One of the biggest reasons why Afflalo is so attractive is his contract situation. Coming off a career-year, Afflalo made $7.5 million and stands to make that same figure for the next two seasons. As a proven player who scores 18 points a game, Afflalo remains a bargain for teams that could make a serious run in the playoffs and can afford to bring in that kind of salary. With the Magic’s stance on clearing out expensive contracts, they could have a way to dump Afflalo’s salary.

One potential drawback of deciding to trade Afflalo is the Magic might only gain interest from playoff teams. A team in a similar situation with high draft picks may not want to take on a player like Afflalo and the $7.5 million due to him next season. That leaves those teams competing for the playoffs and their draft picks may be too low for the Magic’s taste.

While the talk of having two first-round draft picks has allowed for the Magic to deal Afflalo, it also wouldn’t be a surprise if the Magic decided to deal one of those picks if it meant acquiring an additional pick. One idea that could help the Magic is trading the fourth pick to a team with multiple first-round picks like the Phoenix Suns. If a player like Parker is available at the fourth pick, the Suns may view him as a player that they must have and could be inclined to give the Magic their 14th and 18th picks for the Magic’s fourth pick. With still three weeks to go until the draft, the rumors will continue to fly. In his short time as Magic GM, Hennigan has already put his mark on the team and he faces a big summer ahead of him to continue to improve the Magic.

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Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.

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