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NBA: the Magic weighs its options with the 1st choice in the draft

The college basketball season ended almost three months ago, the NBA draft lottery was held over a month ago, and the draft itself is later this week.

With all this time, you would think that the holders of the first choice would have already made a decision for their selection.

Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman sees things differently.

“I’m telling you, it’s still early in the process,” Weltman said Monday.

But Weltman sees no reason to make a move until absolutely necessary, especially given the opportunity Orlando has by holding the No. 1 pick.

“The dialogue is still ongoing,” Weltman said. “But the most important thing is that we can do whatever we want. That’s the real benefit of having the first choice. »

The main candidates for the pick are well known: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. trained for Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren met the Magic for several days last week and Duke’s Paolo Banchero trained with former Magic guard Mike Miller.

Weltman wouldn’t say those are the only three candidates Orlando would consider hiring for the No.

“There are a lot of talented players at the top of this draft, that’s for sure,” Weltman said.

This is the fourth time Orlando has made the No. 1 pick. In 1992, the Magic chose Shaquille O’Nea. Chris Webber was Orlando’s first pick in 1993, and he was traded that same night for Penny Hardaway and a host of future picks who eventually turned into Vince Carter and, later, Miller. And in 2004, the Magic selected Dwight Howard with the first pick.

Thursday’s first pick will join a young core in Orlando that already includes Markelle Fultz, the first pick in the 2017 draft, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, two of the top picks in the 2021 draft, and Cole Anthony, the 15th pick in the 2020 draft.

Orlando also owns the No. 6 picks in the 2017 and 2018 draft, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. It’s possible that at the start of next season, Orlando will have as many as six lottery picks, nine top-16 picks and 12 first-round picks in its roster.

It’s all part of the challenge for the Magic – which also have picks No. 32 and No. 35 this year – ahead of Thursday: Find more youngsters who fit into the current core, find ways to be better next season and sustainably better for years to come.

“We want to improve, but not at the cost of a return to mediocrity,” Weltman said. “And we want to have something lasting. But for that, we have to raise our level. »

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