ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic’s rebuilding effort is in its third off-season with first-time general manager Rob Hennigan leading the way.
Thursday’s draft will be by far the biggest moment of the draft-centric approach he put into place after his arrival that has included a pair of lottery picks for one of the deepest classes in recent memory.
But after missing out on a spot to select in the top three, Hennigan acknowledged Wednesday that trying to move up or down from the No. 4 and 12 spots is possible.
“Everything’s really fluid at the moment,” Hennigan said. “I think there’s a possibility we could select at (No.) 4 and (No.) 12, and I think there’s a possibility that one or both of those picks could be in play. So our job … is to prioritize what we feel is the best opportunity for us, and then go ahead and try to capitalize on that.”
Despite being at No. 4, a month ago the Magic seemed to still be in good position to land one of the top-rated players in the draft. That was before big man Joel Embiid’s recent foot surgery.
Hennigan said the impact “makes an already unpredictable night even more unpredictable.”
What it has likely done is move up players Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum on draft boards.
That would complicate things for the Magic.
Once considered a possible No. 1 pick by Cleveland, if teams are scared off by the injury and Embiid is not selected high, the Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers could take a player the Magic thought would be there at No. 4.
A handful of teams have sought and received Embiid’s medical reports from his agent, but Hennigan declined to say if Orlando was one of them.
“I’m not gonna comment on what information we have. I will say that we do have information, and we’re analyzing it, and we’ll continue to gather more information leading up to (Thursday) night,” he said.
Whatever happens, it will almost certainly impact at least some of the Magic’s few veterans.
Shooting guard Arron Afflalo’s name has been mentioned as a possible trade chip should the Magic try to move up.
Also, if the Magic select a point guard on Thursday it could impact what happens to Jameer Nelson, who has only a partially-guaranteed contract for next season. Orlando would owe him only $2 million of his $8 million salary if he’s waived by July 15.
Hennigan again declined to speculate, saying only that he thinks “everything is connected” as far as the draft and the future of the players on the roster.
Regardless, Hennigan said the overall plan going forward remains the same.
“I think the big thing for us is to just stay the course — continue to add to the team, continue to improve the team, and do it in a fashion that allows us to show improvement, (and) allows us to play in more meaningful games next season,” he said. “But at the same time we don’t want to skip steps. We don’t want to compromise our vision to build a competitive team for a long time.
“If there’s an opportunity out there that will allow us to speed that up — great. If not, I think onus is on us to continue to chip away and stay disciplined.”