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Magic Fans Should Root for Pat Williams to Fail Tonight

2013 May 21
by Brian Serra


The NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight at 8:30 PM on ESPN and the Orlando Magic will once again be sending their good luck charm, Pat Williams, in hopes of securing the top overall spot.  However, it’s my opinion that the team would be better served leaving Mr. Williams at home – and sending Hedo Turkoglu in his place.

The Magic do not – and should not – want to win the top pick. The basic theory is obviously that with the top choice, they can have the pick of the litter. The reality though, is having that top pick will severely limit the flexibility of the Magic moving forward. Here’s why:

  • The number one overall pick is virtually untradeable. The last time the number one overall pick was traded was the infamous Webber-Hardaway trade 20 years ago that united Shaq and Penny in Orlando. The haul for the Magic in that trade? The #3 overall pick and three future first rounders. Those trades just don’t happen anymore, especially with the value of picks skyrocketing under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • Hennigan wants to trade. Assuming the Magic don’t get the #1 pick (25% odds at 1, 21.5% at 2, 17.7% at 3), which the odds say they wont, Magic GM Rob Hennigan is likely to be open to trades. In what is characterized as a “weaker” draft, and with a roster still in complete flux, it makes too much sense to not shop for greater value. Say a team like Portland at #10 falls in love with Victor Oladipo and wants to move up… Would they take one of Orlando’s bad contracts to swap places? Would they move someone like Meyers Leonard? What if the Wizards fall in love with Otto Porter? They have a ton of cap space and might be willing to absorb a bad contract to secure their pick. The difficult part in any trade is matching up the moving salaries, meaning future picks are often the trade bait. The Magic wouldn’t want to receive any player not on a rookie or expiring contract.
  • Many teams have multiple picks. Cleveland owns 3* (lotto determined) and 19, Phoenix owns 4 and 30, Minnesota owns 9 and 26, OKC owns 12 and 29, Utah owns 14 and 21 and ATL owns 17 and 18. Trade partners are out there and aren’t limited to just these teams.
  • It’s expensive. Over the life of the 4-year rookie deal, the difference between the #1 pick and the #3 pick is $4.7M, the difference between #1 and #4 (which is the lowest the Magic can pick) is $6.6M. You can see the full rookie salary scale for any Magic pick here.
  • Andrew Wiggins. If the Magic win the lottery this year, the Basketball Gods would never allow them to win two years in a row. And please, save me your logic about the odds being exactly the same.

With the 206 pounder Nerlens Noel injured and Ben McLemore filled with plenty of question marks, the Magic should rooting for Pat Williams to have a rare stroke of bad luck. The excitement of a number one overall pick may excite the base, but for a team undergoing a 100% complete rebuild – flexibility is the key to the process. So Mr. Williams, please understand that I say this with the best of intentions – I hope you fail tonight.

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