ORLANDO, Fla. — School basketball season ended nearly three months in the past, the NBA draft lottery was greater than a month in the past and the draft itself is later this week.
Looks as if the method needs to be winding down.
Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman sees it in a different way.
“I inform you, it is nonetheless early within the course of,” Weltman mentioned Monday.
Translated: The Magic have not determined but what they’re going to do on Thursday night time when the draft rolls round and so they have the No. 1 decide. Different groups have referred to as to gauge what the asking worth could be in the event that they wish to commerce for that choice, and the Magic have evaluated all the highest candidates.
However Weltman sees no cause to determine something earlier than it is completely mandatory, particularly given the chance that Orlando has by holding this No. 1 decide.
“Dialogue is all the time ongoing,” Weltman mentioned. “However most significantly, we get to do what we wish. That is the true profit of getting the No. 1 decide.”
The highest candidates for the decide are well-known: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. labored out for Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren met with the Magic for a number of days final week and Duke’s Paolo Banchero has been working out with former Magic guard Mike Miller.
Holmgren mentioned he got here away satisfied that “nice folks” are main the Magic.
“They have a imaginative and prescient for what they’re making an attempt to place collectively in Orlando,” Holmgren mentioned.
Weltman would not say that these are the one three candidates Orlando would think about at No. 1.
“It is confirmed that there are quite a lot of proficient gamers on the prime of this draft, that is for positive,” Weltman mentioned.
That is the fourth time that Orlando shall be making the No. 1 decide. The Magic took Shaquille O’Neal with the highest choice in 1992. Chris Webber was the No. 1 decide by Orlando in 1993, and he acquired traded that very same night time for Penny Hardaway and a bundle of future picks that have been ultimately became Vince Carter and, later, Miller. And in 2004, the Magic chosen Dwight Howard with the primary decide.
The No. 1 decide on Thursday will be a part of a younger core in Orlando that already contains 2017 prime decide Markelle Fultz, a pair of top-eight picks from the 2021 draft in Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony — the No. 15 decide within the 2020 draft.
Orlando additionally has the No. 6 picks from the 2017 and 2018 draft, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. It is potential that when subsequent season begins Orlando may have as many as six lottery picks, 9 top-16 picks and 12 first-rounders on its roster.
That is all a part of the problem for the Magic — who even have the No. 32 and No. 35 picks this yr — going into Thursday: Discovering extra youth that matches with the present core, discovering methods to be higher subsequent season and sustainably higher for years to return.
“We do wish to get higher, however not on the expense of dashing again to mediocrity,” Weltman mentioned. “And we do wish to have one thing sustainable. However it’s important to elevate the usual to do this. You’ll be able to’t simply keep on the basement degree, you realize, interminably. So these are conversations that we’re having, which gamers try this for us.”