ORLANDO, Florida (AP) The college basketball season ended almost three months ago, the NBA draft lottery was over a month old, and the draft itself will take place later this week.
Seems like the process should be curtailed.
Orlando Magic president Jeff Veltman sees it differently.
“I’m telling you, it’s still early,” Veltman said on Monday.
Translation: The Magic have not yet decided what they will do on Thursday night when the draft starts and they have the first pick. Other teams called to evaluate what the asking price would be if they were willing to trade this selection, and the Magic evaluated all of the top candidates.
But Veltman sees no reason to make any decisions before it becomes absolutely necessary, especially given the opportunity Orlando has of holding that No. 1 pick.
“The dialogue is always going on,” Veltman said. “But most importantly, we can do what we want. This is the real benefit of the No. 1 choice.”
The top picks for this pick are well known: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. trained with Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren met the Magic for several days last week, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero trained with former Magic defenseman Mike Miller. .
Veltman would not say that these are the only three candidates that Orlando could consider for the first place.
“It’s been confirmed that there are a lot of talented players in this draft, that’s for sure,” Veltman said.
This is the fourth time Orlando has picked number 1. The Magic took Shaquille O’Neal with the top pick in 1992. Chris Webber was Orlando’s No. 1 pick in 1993 and was traded the same night for Penny Hardaway and several future picks that would eventually turn into Vince Carter. and, later, Miller. And in 2004, the Magic selected Dwight Howard as their first pick.
Thursday’s No. 1 pick will join Orlando’s young core, which already includes 2017 top pick Markelle Fultz, a pair of 2021 top eight picks Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony, the No. 15 pick in the 2020 draft. .
Orlando also has the 6th overall pick in 2017 and 2018, Jonathan Isaac and Moe Bamba. It’s entirely possible that Orlando could have as many as six lottery picks, nine top 16 picks and 12 first round players on his roster by the start of next season.
It’s all part of the Magic’s challenge, which also has its 32nd and 35th peaks this year ahead of Thursday: find more youth that fit the current core, find ways to get better next season and get better sustainably. for many years.
“We really want to get better, but not at the expense of going back to mediocrity,” Veltman said. “And we really want to have something sustainable. But to do this, you need to raise the bar. You can’t just stay in the basement, you see, indefinitely. So those are the conversations we have, which players are doing it for us.”