The Orlando Magic has still yet to win its first NBA championship. Despite the NBA currently holding the “bubble games” down in Central Florida, the Magic is still considered a small market team. Not many of the marquee free agents look to Orlando as an attractive destination. Thus, through its history, the franchise has needed to build through the draft and navigate the trade market to bring in top tier talent to its squad.
As you will see in this list, the Magic haven’t been involved in many big-time superstar blockbuster trades. One of the few times they were involved in such was the Dwight Howard megadeal in 2012. And even they received the shorter end of the stick from that one and have not recovered from it since.
Likewise, for the most part, the Magic often saw their former players excel with their new teams after parting ways with them. Victor Oladipo, J.J. Redick, and Tobias Harris are a few recent names that come to mind.
Steve Francis began his career as one of the most electric young point guards in the NBA. However, when he arrived in Orlando as part of the deal that sent disgruntled superstar Tracy McGrady to the Houston Rockets, the 2000 Co-Rookie of the Year was no longer his All-Star self. He also became a head case for the organization and was further frustrated when they traded away Cuttino Mobley, his good friend who came with him from Houston.
In the 2005-06 season, Francis was suspended by the Magic for conduct detrimental to the team. Worse, he was still under contract for three more years with over $49 million in the books. That’s why getting rid of the 6-foot-3 guard at the February 2006 trade deadline was such a huge deal for the Magic. And of course, none other than the New York Knicks obliged and took the remainder of his atrocious contract.
In return, Orlando acquired Trevor Ariza and the expiring contract for former All-Star Penny Hardaway. This deal gave the Magic enough cap room to sign Rashard Lewis in the 2007 off-season. Lewis later became a key piece in Orlando’s Finals run in 2009.
Midway through the 2008-09 season, starting point guard Jameer Nelson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Orlando needed to fill in his spot and subsequently traded for veteran guard Rafer Alston from the Houston Rockets.
Alston went on to start 28 of the 29 games for the Magic for the rest of the regular season, where he averaged 12.0 points and 5.1 assists in nearly 30 minutes a night.
The then 32-year old went on to play a vital role for Orlando’s 2009 postseason run. Led by MVP candidate Dwight Howard, the Magic made the NBA Finals and even upset a heavily favored Cleveland Cavaliers squad in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the championship round.
In 23 games in the 2009 playoffs (all starts), Alston averaged 12.2 points and 4.1 assists for the Magic.
Most Magic fans would remember the 2004 NBA draft as the year they selected Dwight Howard with the no. 1 overall pick. An often overlooked move Orlando made on that same draft night is the acquisition of Jameer Nelson from the Denver Nuggets.
Denver picked Nelson, a projected top-10 pick at the time, with the 20th overall pick. To acquire the rights to the 6-foot point guard from St. Joseph’s, the Magic sent a 2005 first-round pick to the Nuggets.
This ended up being a great move for Orlando as Nelson went on to become a mainstay for them over the next decade. Nelson even made the All-Star team in the 2008-09 season. Unfortunately, as mentioned, his career year was cut short after he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury midway through the campaign.
Orlando went on to make the Finals that season. Nelson returned in time for the championship round against the Lakers. However, coming back from a lengthy absence, his presence didn’t provide much of a positive impact for Orlando. Nonetheless, Nelson is still regarded as a fan favorite for all his serviceable years with the Magic.
The modern-day Orlando Magic has been searching for a franchise point guard for quite a while now. It seems like they finally found their man in former no. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. The Magic didn’t need to give up much to acquire Fultz. Orlando traded Jonathon Simmons, a 2nd rounder in 2019, and a 2020 1st round pick they acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Washington standout certainly carried a lot of risks, given his troublesome first two seasons in the NBA. Fultz struggled to stay on the court and suited up in just 33 games through his rookie and sophomore campaign. This was mainly because of a shoulder injury that was later diagnosed as an illness called thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), which, likewise, affected his shooting mechanics.
Fast forward to today, it seems like the Magic won the trade by a landslide. Fultz is healthier now and is flourishing as Orlando’s starting point guard. He is still far away from producing like a former top pick should, but the 21-year old is slowly establishing his place in the NBA.
In 72 games this 2019-20 season, Fultz averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists while shooting 46.5 percent from the field. At 21, Fultz certainly still carries a ton of potential. It’s a rare occurrence to see the Orlando Magic win a trade. Magic fans certainly hope Fultz continues his upward trajectory and reach the stardom he was once destined to fulfill.
This is undoubtedly the greatest trade the Orlando Magic have made in their history as a franchise. The fact that this happened nearly three decades ago speaks volumes of Orlando’s luck in trades.
Despite holding the worst odds to land the no. 1 overall pick, the Magic, who barely missed the 1993 NBA playoffs, lucked into landing the top pick in the 1993 draft. Orlando initially selected Michigan star Chris Webber as the first overall pick. Moments, later, they traded Webber for the no. 3 overall pick Penny Hardaway and two future first-round picks from the Golden State Warriors.
The trade ended up working beautifully for Orlando as Hardaway complemented their incumbent star Shaquille O’Neal’s game very well. The two All-Stars led the Magic throughout the mid-1990s and transformed them into one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Many also billed them to be the next dynasty-in-the-making.
Led by Hardaway and O’Neal, the Magic made their first NBA Finals appearance in 1995. Unfortunately, their inexperience on the big stage proved to be their downfall, as they eventually succumbed to the defending champion Houston Rockets via sweep.
Unfortunately, the once projected dynasty never materialized after O’Neal left via free agency and went to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1997. Nonetheless, this draft night deal ultimately led to the greatest era in Orlando Magic history.
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