4. Orlando Magic
The Return: Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Al-Farouq Aminu, Draft Picks
Aaron Gordon hasn’t worked out in Orlando, as his 3-point shot has come and gone and he is at his best as a second or third option. With the emergence of Nikola Vucevic, the Magic already have an elite frontcourt option. Swapping him out for Russell Westbrook could place both of them in better situations.
With Houston’s spread out offense, Gordon would have enough space for his awesome athleticism to shine through. The spacing in Orlando has been dreadful with the Magic finishing in the bottom five in 3-point shooting percentage in three of Gordon’s six NBA seasons. With shooters all over the court and James Harden operating the offense, Gordon should see his offensive efficiency skyrocket.
Markelle Fultz quietly had a good season in Orlando. People wrote off Fultz after his disastrous stint with the Philadelphia 76ers but that was unfair to the young point guard. Fultz was injured and only played 33 games for the 76ers over two seasons.
If you look at his first season in Orlando as his rookie season all of a sudden he doesn’t seem to be such a bust. He averaged 12.1 points and 5.1 assists in 27.7 minutes a game. His shooting, especially from the free-throw line, improved and it looks like the former number one pick is back on track.
Al-Farouq Aminu makes it into this trade for salary purposes. Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon is set to make $18.13 million, which is nearly identical to Fultz’ $12.28 million and Aminu’s $9.72 million. The trio combines for $40.13 million, which nearly matches the incoming $41 million due to Russell Westbrook.
Since Aaron Gordon and Fultz are both so young, the Magic won’t have to include nearly as many picks. The Houston Rockets should be happy to recoup a future first or multiple second-round picks.
This trade makes Orlando better and the Rockets better. The Rockets have a roster that makes more sense around James Harden and the Magic finally have a legitimate guard to pair with Nikola Vucevic.
Some Houston Rockets fans will want Vucevic in return for Westbrook but that simply won’t happen. Vucevic is an All-Star caliber center that can hit threes and is set to make $72 million over the next three seasons.
As Vucevic has one of the highest trade values in the entire league, the Magic won’t let him go without a king’s ransom in return.
Next: Number 3