The 2018 NBA trade deadline is yesterday’s news. The Orlando Magic were inclined to begin making changes to the roster. And dealing point guard Elfrid Payton was the first move to make.
The Orlando Magic only made one deal before Thursday’s 3p.m. trade deadline. The team decided to remove fourth year guard Elfrid Payton from the magic equation. An equation that resulted in four years of losing seasons. Soon to be six overall since the teams last playoff appearance in 2012.
The return: A 2018 second round pick from the Phoenix Suns. The second-most valuable pick between Charlotte, Memphis and Miami’s picks.
Elfrid Payton averaged 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game this season. Payton is shooting a career high 37 percent from three and 52 percent from the floor. However, the Magic were not convinced that he was the long-term solution in their rebuilding plans.
Some felt Orlando should have received more compensation for a player like Payton.
Getting Elfrid Payton for just a second-rounder is a steal for the Suns.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 8, 2018
Some thought this trade offer was a joke of some kind.
…Did other teams know they could get Elfrid Payton for a second round pick? Like did the Suns throw that out there as a joke and the Magic snap accepted?
— Duncan Smith (@DuncanSmithNBA) February 8, 2018
Some believed Elfrid Payton was worth more than a second-round pick due to his ability to score in isolation and push the tempo on offense. Payton helped lead Orlando to the seventh fastest pace played in the NBA this season. His PER of 18.2 was a career high and sported an offensive rating of 105.9, also a career high.
Elfrid Payton (@elfrid) has the highest FG% on isolation plays. The only primary ballhandlers with a higher FG% near the rim are LeBron James + Ben Simmons. He's a great asset for the Suns.
— Bryan Kalbrosky (@BryanKalbrosky) February 8, 2018
On the contrary, his defensive prowess that he was billed to have upon entering the league was non-evident and some felt his offensive gains this year were not accurate. In actuality, Payton’s defensive rating was atrocious at 113.6 on the year.
Elfrid Payton is a PG that struggles to shoot and defend. What did you expect the @OrlandoMagic to get for him???
— Christian Bruey (@CBrueyWFTV) February 8, 2018
As a primary ball handler with the Suns, Payton will have the opportunity to showcase his abilities and increase his value. Payton should put together a strong campaign playing alongside sharpshooter Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. Phoenix has been looking for a fixture at the point guard and this was a buy-low type of deal.
The Viewpoint on Trading Elfrid Payton
Orlando Magic President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, confirmed the decision to move on from Payton in an interview with Fox Sports Florida after Thursday night’s game at home against the Atlanta Hawks.
“The NBA is evolving, and we have to fit this into our team and into the context of the league,’’ said Weltman. ” Certainly, as we grow the team, there are certain principles and cornerstones that we want to build with. These all go into the mix of free agency, draft and timing of where we are as a team. Do we want to lock in financially to a team that struggled in recent years? These are all factors that figure in.”
“We added a draft pick, we retained a little flexibility and that’s what we got today. We’re excited to have those and we feel that we need those to have a little bit of wiggle room and creativity as we assemble the roster.” Weltman said. “All of that stuff comes to bear in June when we start to do this all over again.”
Falling in line with long-term objectives, Orlando Magic management decided moving Payton now was the right move.
Did Orlando Get The Best Possible Deal
The Orlando Magic were not going to resign Payton to a long-term deal after the current season. So instead, they decided any sort of compensation was better than no compensation at all.
The best case scenario anyone could have hoped for was to receive a younger prospect. Or a first round selection in the upcoming draft. It had been reported that the New York Knicks were showing interest in Payton but rebuffed the idea of having to part ways with promising rookie guard Frank Ntilikina. The team also had a deal in place that would’ve swapped Payton for former Denver Nugget guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was later acquired by the Knicks. Indications are that Denver felt they should not have had to relinquish picks for Payton in a player swap deal. Rumors throughout the league indicated teams would be reluctant to part ways with any sort of first-round pick for Payton likely due to his expected salary increase this summer.
With all aspects considered, Orlando did in fact receive the best possible compensation at the time of the trade. They could have sign and traded him during the off-season but that’s under the assumption the team matched an offer sheet for him and would have had to take back salaries. It was better to go for the sure thing now than risk losing Payton for nothing later.
What’s Next For The Orlando Magic
“Do we want to lock in financially to a team that struggled in recent years?”, Weltman said during his recent interview with Fox Sports Florida.
The Magic failed to move on from other players tied to those struggling years before Thursday’s deadline.
One or more current Magic core players could find themselves playing for a new team before the start of next season.
Its been confirmed that Orlando wants more shooting from the guard position and newly anointed starter, DJ Augustin, provides just that. What fails to be seen is if Orlando will give Augustin an opportunity to win the starting job for next season or if they will look to solidify the position in the upcoming draft.
In all likelihood, the Magic are setting themselves up for what should be an active draft night in June.
Last summer, the Orlando Magic moved draft picks to create cap space and roster space to sign veterans. This summer they could choose to do more of the same. Or they could use their bevy of future picks to move down in the draft or gain another first round selection.
Its less likely Orlando decides to bring back more than two rookies this draft. They are not aiming to getting younger necessarily but want to improve as a team.