Aggressive spending in recent years clogged the
But what complicated things in the first place might provide the fastest path back to relevance.
Now that Howard is gone, sent Friday to the
There are two big problems with that strategy, however. It means the Magic will get worse before they get better. And even if they improve their odds in the draft lottery, they will require luck on top of skillful scouting, wise drafting and patient decision-making. That's why even Magic CEO
"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."
The Magic could have enough salary-cap space to offer a maximum-level deal in free agency next summer, when Thunder shooting guard
The 2014 free-agency period could pay more dividends for the Magic, who currently have committed just $29 million to salaries for the 2014-15 season.
Orlando then might afford two maximum-level salaries, and that summer's free-agent class could include the
New general manager Rob Hennigan started his front-office career with the Spurs and the Thunder, and it's assumed that he will build almost exclusively through the draft instead of through free agency.
He insisted that's not necessarily the case.
"I think that we're pliable and we've set ourselves up to look at both avenues," he said.
"That was something that was important to us. I don't think you can ever get too parochial and say, 'This is the model we need to subscribe to.' We have a lot of flexibility to build through the draft. We have flexibility to build through free agency. We have flexibility to build through trades."
The Thunder are lauded as the most skilled practitioners of building through the draft.
But the franchise benefited from enormous amounts of luck. It won the second pick in the lottery in 2007 and selected
Oklahoma City executives deserve credit for scouting Westbrook and Harden well and taking them earlier than projected. But the Thunder also were fortunate that the Heat took Michael Beasley and the
Hennigan said the Magic will be patient and seek to make "incremental" gains.
But how long will the DeVos family's patience last, especially if the Magic don't receive some lottery luck as the losses accumulate?