Is Air Gordon On the Move?
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The word on the streets is multiple teams are reportedly interested in Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, should he become available via trade. However, Shams Charania of The Athletic stated those teams are simply monitoring him, as the Magic have shown no interest in dealing him at this time.
Gordon is in now participating his sixth NBA season; he applied his John Hancock to a four-year, $80 million contract last year. So, the franchise is in total control of his immediate future.
No, he is not off to a great start this season, but he put up a career year statistically in 2017-18 despite missing 24 games. He averaged 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1 steal, 0.8 blocks and 2.0 threes per game. In 2018-19, even though he only scored 16 points per game, his field goal, three point and free throw percentages were higher than the season prior. He also posted a career high 3.7 assists per game.
Through the 14 games he’s played this season, he has struggled and the Magic as a team have been disappointing, holding a 6-10 record after making the playoffs last season (for the first time in seven seasons).
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward is technically a veteran but is only 24 years old; many people believe he has a lot of potential that is waiting to be unlocked. Those in league-savvy circles think the roster as presently constructed in Orlando doesn’t really allow Gordon to reach his ceiling.
Bottom line: if the Magic can get a quality return for him, with all the other forwards they have on their roster, they should more than likely be at least willing to listen.
Let’s take a look at some possible trades and new homes for the high flyer.
Honorable Mention – Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are 6-11 to start the season and clearly lack options on the wing. They could keep Luke Kennard (16.3 points per game) and add Evan Fournier (17.7 points per game). The defense wouldn’t be any more suspect than it is now and the offense would get quite a boost. Playing next to Andre Drummond would allow Gordon more of a chance to feast on easy buckets, as he would have a physical beast next to him to handle rebounding duties. Some feel Aaron is a bit passive but Andre would surely bring that fire out of him.
The Magic get an All-Star in Blake Griffin, who is healthy at the moment and would bring a consistent scoring punch to the team next to Nikola Vucevic when he returns. Bruce Brown is a young player who could be developed to play both guard positions. He’s averaging 3.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. He needs to hone in on his shot and become more confident.
The Wizards were not expected to be this “good” as they’re off to a 5-9 start, only 4 games under .500, and if some cards turned in their favor they could be looking at the playoffs in the weaker Eastern conference. A high-flyer in Gordon would have all the opportunity in the world to reach his ceiling in Washington's wide-open front court pecking order. Bradley Beal would surely be happy with adding a dunk machine and potential future All-Star to promising rookie Rui Hachimura and break out big man Thomas Bryant.
The Magic would free up just over $15 million in cap room, while adding an intriguing prospect in Troy Brown Jr. to Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier on the wing. Washington would also throw in draft pick(s) to help get the deal done.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder swap backup point guards, bringing in D.J. Augustin who would be a solid veteran floor leader, and a steady three point shooter when needed (38 percent career). This trade allows the Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander combo to be on the court more often. Add in Gordon, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams and that’s a pretty solid starting five.
Orlando would get a strong defensive wing in Andre Roberson, and if he doesn’t work out, he’s an expiring contract. The hope is for Markelle Fultz to continue to improve and actually be close to the level he was at in college. Bringing in Dennis Schroder gives them a really good sixth man if that hope comes to realization; if it doesn’t, he’d be a much better fit as their starter than Augustin would be at this point in his career.
The Heat might be a bit hesitant to pull the trigger on this for several reasons. Meyers Leonard is a bit more than just an expiring contract. Right now, he’s their starting power forward, and provides floor spacing (56 percent from downtown on 25 attempts) for his teammates to operate. Justise Winslow, though he’s only played a single game this season so far, can play multiple positions and is an all-around player with solid defense. The Heat are also presently touting an 12-4 record, perhaps limiting their interest in a roster shake-up.
On the other hand Gordon and Jimmy Butler as their two forwards could be really fun to watch, and if anyone is ever going to bring out the fire in Aaron, it's Jimmy G. Buckets (the G stands for 'gets'). Best case scenario: this move could be the best thing to ever happen to Gordon and it would add another starry element to Miami's on-court product.
Orlando would get just over $11 million in cap relief for this coming free agency period, and having Justise Winslow and Jonathan Isaac as their two forwards would really help on the defensive end. Fultz would also have it a little easier if he allowed Winslow to help him initiate the offense.
The Magic would get just over $19 million in cap relief for this coming summer. In the meantime, Tyler Johnson is a solid combo guard, decent three point shooter (36 percent career), and is a young veteran known for his hustle and intensity. Dario Saric is a solid starting power forward and his shooting would provide spacing for the team’s paint-clogging forwards.
Gordon is from the University of Arizona and could form a Wildcats frontcourt with Deandre Ayton when he returns from suspension. The type of basketball the Suns like to play would highlight the grittiness and physicality in Gordon's game, allowing him to be truly unleashed. Returning to Arizona could be what Air Gordon needs to turn his highlights into consistent All-Star level play. A future pick would likely need to head from Phoenix to Orlando to make this work.
San Antonio Spurs
Another rumor that has been floating around is that the Magic have been knocking on the Spurs door, asking about DeMar DeRozan. The star two-guard could definitely help Orlando, and this would have to be considered a blockbuster deal for both franchises. Centers would be swapped as the Magic would acquire Jakob Poeltl who might be a better under-study for incumbent All-Star Nikola Vucevic.
San Antonio would get their hands on Aaron Gordon in the deal, setting him up to play next to LaMarcus Aldridge and form an interesting front court duo, while also get a tantalizing prospect in Mo Bamba. The uber-athletic big man profiles as a project piece that the Spurs could develop into something special after some Popovichian seasoning.
It’s anyone’s guess if Aaron Gordon is actually traded, and what the transaction would look like, but these are my (reasonably educated) top-five potential deals and landing spots for him.