Magic Solidify Roster with Free Agent Signings
So far this offseason the Orlando Magic have made a handful of moves, but the question remains if these recent signings will pay off. Since last season ended, Orlando has added Jonathan Isaac and Wesley Iwundu in the draft as well as a number of free agent signings. Among those recent additions are some familiar faces in Aaron Afflao, who played for the Magic from 2012-2014 and former Florida Gator and Marreese Speights. Both players are proven NBA vets and bring a unique skill set to the team. Orlando also added Jonathan Simmons, Shelvin Mack, and Khem Birch. At first glance this may sound like an upgrade from the roster that finished last season…however, it does not appear to be anywhere close to resembling a playoff team. The problem is that the Magic have acquired a lot of good players, but still lack a star to put them over the hump.
Looking at the roster, you would have to imagine the starting lineup would include: Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Simmons, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic. Of course this lineup is not set in stone as there should be a fierce battle at training camp for the small forward position which appears to be up for grabs. One could easily make a case for Terrance Ross or even rookie Jonathan Isaac to start over Jonathon Simmons. But based on this lineup, it is not one that will strike fear in opponents. Instead, the lineup looks like a team that will play around .500 ball and could either overachieve and get an 8th seed in the playoffs, or really struggle and win around 30 to 35 games. Either way, the fan base will be looking for more, which could come with the addition of another lottery pick and more free agents in the summer of 2018.
Now in addition to signing a handful of free agents this summer the Magic cut several players as well. The most notable being backup point guard C.J. Watson. The 10 year veteran dealt with injuries during his two years in Orlando, and Watson became replaceable with the signing of the much younger Shelvin Mack. Other players released by Orlando this offseason include: Stephen Zimerman, Patricio Garino, and Marcus Georges-Hunt. None of these players were part of the team’s future, so if anything the Magic did them a favor by cutting them loose so that they have a chance of catching on with another team.
For now, Magic fans will have to wait until early October, to catch their first glimpse of the team in action. Orlando kicks off their preseason schedule with a road game against the Grizzles on the 2nd. Then just a few days later, you can check out the team in person as they take on the Mavericks at the Amway Center on October 5th.