Grant Hughes of Bleacher report proposed an idea for a Russell Westbrook trade. This deal was centered around the Magic acquiring a 2027 first rounder and Westbrook for Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, and Terrence Ross. This deal would give the Magic a former MVP and an extra first rounder to continue building their team in the draft. However, some of the most interesting contracts and players for contenders would all be shipped out. This deal brings a lot more issues to the Magic than solutions.
Point Guard Issue
If the Magic were to make this trade, the Guard Position would be Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and Russell Westbrook. Westbrook had a tumultuous year with the Lakers last season; however, he does not seem ready to take a bench role. Understandably, as he averaged a triple double just two seasons ago. With Westbrook starting in this position, it stunts the development of Suggs and Anthony, as they won’t be playing on ball and expanding that part of their game. They are 21 and 22 years old respectively, and we are nowhere close to seeing their true ability as an NBA point guard. The backcourt would also be very small and struggle on defense. Losing Gary Harris is a big hit especially on the defensive end. The Magic would be outsized at the guard position in nearly every game and not utilizing youth.
Russell Westbrook will be the second highest paid player in the league next year with $47 Million. This comes off the books next season as he becomes a free agent. However, the three solid pieces sent out by the Magic in this mock trade would still be about $6 Million less in salary than Westbrook. Regardless of if this move is made, the Magic will have over $50 million in cap next season to use. Keeping this space open is important in taking on high contracts in order to secure draft picks, as well as remaining available for free agents. In taking on this high contract and limiting mobility for this year, the Magic would acquire a first rounder in 4 years, where surely nobody knows how the Lakers will look. This move would be counterproductive to the rebuilding process and acquiring young talent.
Garry Harris signed a two year $26 Million deal this year, however the Magic made his 2023-2024 season non-guaranteed. Due to this, I believe he is the Magic player most likely to be moved this season. He has shot 38% from 3 for the Magic and has provided great defense. He can potentially be traded to a contender in need of a 3 and D player for draft compensation. Derrick White, a player with similar production was traded to the Celtics last year for a 2022 first round pick. Adding picks to acquire young talent is essential for the Magic, and a 2027 first rounder does not move the needle.
Markelle Fultz is also only 24 years old, and to trade him would be counterproductive to the young team the Magic are trying to assemble. Fultz can be a very important piece for this team. However, if the Magic decide to trade him to open more cap space for next season, they could surely acquire an interesting package.