Magic still evaluating all options with No. 1 pick

Magic still evaluating all options with No. 1 pick thumbnail

1: 04 PM ET

  • Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — College basketball season ended almost three months ago, the NBA draft lottery was more than a month ago and the draft itself is later this week. It seems like the process is winding down.

Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman sees it differently.

” “It’s still early in this process,” Weltman stated Monday.

Translated: The Magic haven’t decided yet what they’ll do on Thursday night when the draft rolls around and they have the No. 1 pick. Other teams have called to find out the asking price for that selection. The Magic have also evaluated all of the top candidates.

But Weltman doesn’t see any reason to make a decision before it’s absolutely necessary. Especially considering the opportunity Orlando has by having this No. 1 pick.

“Dialogue is always ongoing,” Weltman said. “But, the most important thing is that we can do what we want. This is the real benefit to having the No. 1 pick. “

The top candidates for the pick are well-known: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. worked out for Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren met with the Magic for multiple days last week and Duke’s Paolo Banchero has been working out with former Magic guard Mike Miller.

Holmgren stated that he was convinced that the Magic is led by “great people”.

“They have a vision of what they want to do in Orlando,” Holmgren stated.

Weltman would not say that these are the only candidates Orlando would consider for No. 1.

“It is clear that there are many talented players at this draft’s top, that’s for certain,” Weltman stated.

This is the fourth time Orlando has been drafted No. 1 pick. The Magic took Shaquille O’Neal with the top selection in 1992. Chris Webber was the No. 1 pick by Orlando in 1993, and he got traded that same night for Penny Hardaway and a package of future picks that were eventually turned into Vince Carter and, later, Miller. And in 2004, the Magic selected Dwight Howard with the first pick.

The No. 1 pick on Thursday will join a young core in Orlando that already includes 2017 top pick Markelle Fultz, a pair of top-eight picks from the 2021 draft in Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony — the No. 15 pick in the 2020 draft.

Orlando also holds the No. 6 picks from the 2017 and 2018 draft, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. It’s possible that when next season starts Orlando could have as many as six lottery picks, nine top-16 selections and 12 first-rounders on its roster. This is part of the challenge for Magic, who also have No. 32 and No. 35 picks this year — going into Thursday: Finding more youth that fits with the current core, finding ways to be better next season and sustainably better for years to come. We want to improve, but not at any cost of returning to mediocrity,” Weltman stated. “And we want something that is sustainable. To do that, you need to raise the standard. You can’t stay at the basement level indefinitely. These are conversations we have about which players do this for us. “

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