After earning their first playoff appearance in seven seasons, the Orlando Magic gave a solid indication on what direction they will approach moving forward by announcing that they have exercised options on three players.
President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said the team has picked up the third-year team option on center Mo Bamba and the fourth-year team options on guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac. That essentially means all three players are now under contract through the 2020-21 season.
Bamba appeared in 47 games (one start) during his rookie campaign last season with Orlando, averaging 6.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.36 blocks per game, while averaging about 16 minutes of playing time. He ranked among all NBA rookies in rebounding (sixth) and blocked shots (third). Bamba was originally selected in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2018 NBA Draft by the Magic.
Fultz (6’4”, 209) was acquired by the Magic in a February trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Jonathan Simmons. He averaged 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game with Philadelphia, but was limited to just 19 games because of injury. He did not play in any games for the Magic last season as he was rehabbing.
Originally selected by Philadelphia in the first round (first overall) of the 2017 NBA Draft, Fultz has appeared in 33 career NBA regular season games (15 starts), all with Philadelphia, averaging almost eight points and 3.4 assists per game.
Isaac (6’10”, 235) played in 75 games (64 starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.31 blocks per game, while shooting .815 (110-135) from the free throw line. He also appeared and started in five playoff outings for Orlando.
Originally selected by Orlando in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2017 NBA Draft, Isaac has played in 102 career NBA regular season games (74 starts), all with the Magic, averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and is considered one of the better defensive players in the league.
“Mo (Bamba), Markelle (Fultz) and Jonathan (Isaac) have each demonstrated a strong work ethic, while exhibiting a commitment to team values,” said Weltman in making the announcement. “We look forward to exciting futures with them as part of the Magic family.”
Earlier this summer, the Magic reached a four-year contract agreement with NBA All-Star center Nikola Vucevic for a reported $100 million. At midseason, Vucevic was at the center of trade rumors, spurring many fans to wonder what the long-term plans where for the Magic roster.
An offensive force, Vucevic averaged 20 points per game last season as the team finished the regular season with a 42-40 record and secured the number seven seed in the Eastern Conference. The team would go on to be eliminated in the first round by eventual World Champion Toronto, four games to one.
The team selected Auburn forward Chuma Okeke with the 16th pick of the first round of the NBA Draft this summer. Although Okeke suffered a torn ACL in the NCAA Tournament last spring, the Magic are excited about the possibility that Okeke can add team’s core of emerging young stars.
With Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard following LeBron James to the Western Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks are probably the new favorites in the East. But the fact remains there has been a ton of player movement with all of the top five teams, leaving a very real opportunity for Orlando to move up in the Eastern Conference pecking order.
Orlando is one of the few teams that did not see any significant departures on its roster from last year. If Aaron Gordon can continue to develop and if Fultz can get and stay healthy, the Magic have a chance to significantly improve this season.
The Magic open camp on Oct. 1 and play their first pre-season game on Oct. 5 in San Antonio.
The regular season begins on Oct. 23 with a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Ticket information can be found at www.orlandomagic.com or by calling 407-916-2400.