We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Orlando Magic.
The Orlando Magic by no means would be considered NBA royalty or a perennial juggernaut, but the past five years have literally been the worst in the franchise’s history.
So it wasn’t all that surprising to see (now former) GM Rob Hennigan sent on his way.
The players, for the most part, are the same as the ones from a year ago, but the Magic are banking on a more seasoned front-office being exactly what’s needed in order to make those losing ways for so many years, disappear.
The Magic brought in Jeff Weltman as their president of basketball operations and John Hammond as the GM.
Both worked together in Detroit as well as Milwaukee, although with the Bucks it was Weltman reporting to Hammond.
The two bring more than familiarity to the table, but also a track record of success in building lottery teams into legit playoff contenders.
One of the first challenges they will face is trying to make sense out of a roster that on many levels, doesn’t fit in with today’s NBA landscape.
Orlando paid big money to land Serge Ibaka after having already signed Bismack Biyombo who joined a front line featuring Nikola Vucevic.
Like most of the Orlando roster, the Magic’s Big three big men never meshed on the floor with any kind of consistency.
And in their efforts to make it work, it to some degree stunted the growth of promising forward Aaron Gordon, who is one of the more athletic players in the NBA.
Still, one thing we know about teams assembled by Hammond is that he loves length, athleticism and versatility.
That’s why the Magic didn’t hesitate to go out and sign former San Antonio Spur Jonathan Simmons to a three-year, $20 million contract.
Simmons, 28, had a solid season with San Antonio, but really made a name for himself (and a few dollars along the way) by the job he did at both ends of the floor when Kawhi Leonard was hurt and he had to contend with Houston’s James Harden.
No one would put Simmons in the same class as Leonard as far as being a two-way talent, but there was no mistaking how well Simmons held his own against the always-explosive scoring of Harden.
And the Magic, which picked sixth in the June NBA draft, once again looked to add a player with tremendous length and versatility in selecting Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac.
It was a no-brainer pick for a front office that while in Milwaukee, surprised some in selecting Giannis Antetokounmpo at a time when many felt the Greek Freak would take a number of years before making an impact. And in Hammond’s last draft with the Bucks, he selected Thon Maker with the 10th overall pick.
Like previous skinny-as-a-rail picks, Maker showed promise as a rookie that he can, in fact, be an early contributor who can improve with more time and experience which was instrumental in Milwaukee’s steady improvement.
But can they replicate that success in Orlando?
It remains to be seen but one thing is clear: It’ll be difficult for them to sink any lower than where the franchise was when they assumed their current positions.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Arron Afflalo (Sacramento); Mo Speights (Golden State); Jonathan Simmons (San Antonio).
Key losses: Jeff Green (Cleveland); Jodie Meeks (Washington)
Rookies of note: Jonathan Isaac; Wesley Iwundu.
Expectations: 37-45 (Fourth in the Southeast Division, 10th in the East)