The Orlando Magic are still looking for a starting-caliber point guard and they may have found someone ready for the job in Isaiah Thomas.
As reported by our own Alex Kennedy, both sides “want to get this done” and are working on the terms of the deal. Thomas, 29, would be on his sixth team since entering the league in 2011. While we speculated back in March that he could sign a short deal for good money, it’s possible that the mid-level exception would make sense.
Orlando can offer their full mid-level exception, which is worth around $8.6 million considering they’re not taxpayers for next season.
Thomas would join Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross in the backcourt, with top picks such as Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba in the frontcourt (along with veterans Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo). The Magic aren’t ready to contend, but they’re far from tanking.
It’s worth noting that Thomas and Ross were college teammates for one year (2010-11) at the University of Washington.
Many assumed the Magic would target a starting point guard in the 2018 NBA Draft, such as Trae Young or Collin Sexton. Instead, Orlando decided to go with the best player available on their big board in Bamba. The 20-year-old didn’t fill the biggest need for the Magic, but he could be a difference-maker right away with his ridiculous length and athleticism.
However, because Orlando didn’t address their biggest need in the draft, they still need help in the backcourt. After dealing Elfrid Payton at last year’s trade deadline and waiving Shelvin Mack after the season, DJ Augustin is the only point guard on the Magic’s roster.
Thomas is arguably the top point guard who’s still available in free agency, as he averaged 15.2 points, 4.8 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 made threes per game last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. He’s just two years from removed from finishing fifth in MVP voting, after averaging 28.9 points, 5.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 3.2 made threes with the Boston Celtics.
If he does sign with Orlando, this would effectively rule the team out of the running to trade for Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder. Other targets to watch for the Magic if they whiff on Thomas include Shabazz Napier, Shane Larkin and Ty Lawson. But it seems Thomas would be the best fit for Orlando’s roster.