Magic fans facing more misery

Club needs time to create salary-cap room

The Magic are in the midst of one of their all-time losing ruts, and they've again lost Glen Davis. They need to shut down Big Baby for the season and develop their young'uns, turning to 2013-14.

Wish I had some brighter news, but it likely will get worse for the franchise on the court:

Season ticket-holders and fans will have to go through another season of misery – maybe two more.

The Magic know this. They just don't advertise it.

They won't start getting significant salary-cap relief until the summer of 2014. The Magic could have about $36 million available for a free agent(s), depending on whom they add or don't add before 2014-15 (see Redick, J.J.).

Heading into 2015-16, the Magic expect to have even more money available.

Media-shy GM Rob Hennigan should begin selling that positive narrative to his tortured fan base.

To return to relevancy, the Magic need more cap room to sign free agents and hope that lottery luck strikes.

Neither plan is fool-proof, of course.

Free agency is tricky, depending on availability, age and whims of players. Is Orlando still an attractive destination? Marquee stars have unhappily left the franchise over the years – Shaq, Penny, T-Mac and Dwight.

The 2014 class offers big names, but none are expected to be on their rebuilding radar: The Heat's Big Three, Carmelo Anthony, Amare' Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. The Magic likely would be interested in younger stars such as Paul George, but their current teams would be, too. The just-traded Rudy Gay will be a free agent.

In 2015, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could well be Magic targets. Rajon Rondo might test the market. The Year 2016 possibly offers Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Mike Conley.

And given the new super luxury-tax era, a few top players could be available for trades because of financial constraints (Gay, for instance).

Lately, the Magic have played their way into contention for the No. 1 lottery pick.

Everybody says it's a weak draft and there are no dominant players such as Anthony Davis. I don't know. Unheralded Damian Lillard was picked No. 6 last year by Portland and has become an instant star.

Kentucky freshman C Nerlens Noel, 6-10, reminds me of a teenage Dwight Howard, at least defensively (and, uh, at the free-throw line.) Noel blocked 12 shots against Ole Miss.

Most draftniks list Indiana 7-footer Cody Zeller or UCLA SF Shabazz Muhammad as the top collegians. Kansas SG Ben McLemore might be the most NBA-ready.

Nik Vucevic could be Orlando's center of the future. But he doesn't have the shot-blocking presence of a Noel. Imagine having both big-men as assets.

The Magic would love to finally have a bigger, defensive-minded point guard to groom under Jameer Nelson. Michigan's Trey Burke is a star, but he's listed as a Jameer-sized 6-feet.

And if the wondrous Andrew Wiggins enters the 2014 draft, he's worth tanking a season for.

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