There are a lot of ways to question the ultimate decision that Orlando made in trading Dwight Howard.
That has to start with, why didn’t you just do this at the trade deadline? I know you wanted to keep your superstar but everyone could see where this was headed, you needed to get out quick (think Utah Jazz). Then we can ask why the Houston deal wasn’t better (saved more money and had unrestricted picks)? Or the Brooklyn deal? (Although to me any rebuilding deal that includes Brook Lopez is to be avoided.) Getting Andrew Bynum might have been better than anyone you will draft with the picks they got.
But through it all one thing became clear — the plan was to rebuild via the draft. Oklahoma City assistant GM Rob Hennigan was brought in to rebuild via that model. (We can discuss if that model is something they can really replicate another day.)
“We’re not turning our back on free agency,” Martins said. “We’re just putting the emphasis on our draft that we feel should be the case.”
It is not going to be easy for the Magic to replicate the success that the Thunder or Spurs had with this draft plan, it takes a lot of luck (like Kevin Durant falling to you at the No. 2 pick or having a down year the one year Tim Duncan comes up in the draft). It takes great scouting — everyone thought Russell Westbrook was a reach at No. 4 and there were questions about James Harden.
But Magic fans, give it a chance. It’s the road you are committed to now. Spending a max deal on someone like Josh Smith next summer is the road back to mediocrity. Don’t go for a quick fix, get the right players. It’s not going to be a fun couple of years, but it is the path you are committed to.