With the draft over and free agency just a few days away, you have lots of questions about the Orlando Magic.
Your questions centered around the Magic's plans to deal with the restricted free agency of Aaron Gordon, the unrestricted free agency of Mario Hezonja and the shortage at point guard. I'll get to those issues in a future mailbag.
For now, though, I'd like to address a question related to Kawhi Leonard.
Let's jump in.
I've worked in journalism for almost 20 years. In that time, I've heard or read more outrageous rumors than I can count. But until now, I cannot remember a betting line sparking speculation.
Let me catch everybody up.
A sports betting site aggregated a prop bet offered by a Costa Rica-based sportsbook:
As you can see, put down $100 on disgruntled San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard playing for Orlando during the 2018-19 season, and you'd win $350 if Leonard actually plays for Orlando.
What's interesting, as Davis implies in his question, is that the Magic are listed at all. Even more interesting: The Magic appear to have a higher likelihood of landing Leonard than the Spurs have at keeping Leonard or the Los Angeles Lakers — Leonard's supposed preferred destination — have at acquiring him.
Does this mean the Magic want to acquire Leonard? Does this mean executives Jeff Weltman and John Hammond are in trade talks with Spurs executive R.C. Buford?
The answer to those questions probably is no.
Oddsmakers concoct their odds in such a way to ensure they make a profit — not because they think a particular outcome will occur.
But why are the Magic listed at all?
There's some method to the oddsmakers' madness.
If you were in charge of the Spurs and one of the game's five best players wanted out, you'd want to get equal value for Leonard. In the best-case scenario, you'd want a franchise-cornerstone player in the prime of his career who has plenty of years remaining on his contract.
From San Antonio's perspective, there's a huge obstacle: Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 and reportedly prefers to end up in Los Angeles long term. So why would a team be willing to risk giving away a superstar if Leonard can walk away in 2019?
So if you were in charge of the Spurs, what's the next-best option if you cannot keep Leonard long term? The next-best option is to acquire high-upside young players who will remain under team control for an extended period of time. If developed properly, those players could become cornerstones — perhaps not on Leonard's level, but building blocks nonetheless.
This explains why the Celtics are on the list. Boston hypothetically could offer ultra-talented swingman Jaylen Brown or ultra-talented swingman Jayson Tatum in a deal for Leonard.
San Antonio officials would have to listen to an offer like that. Brown and Tatum are on their rookie-scale contracts, and they will be able to sign contract extensions after their third seasons in the league. Or, without an extension, they would become restricted free agents after their fourth seasons, giving their team the right to match any offer sheet.
The Magic probably are on this list because the Magic have a pair of young players with high ceilings, second-year forward Jonathan Isaac and rookie center Mohamed Bamba.
If the Spurs cannot convince Leonard to remain long term, then Spurs executives would be smart to at least sound out the Magic to see if they'd be willing to give up Isaac and/or Bamba for Leonard.
So how would Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman or Magic GM John Hammond respond if they received a call from Buford?
My guess — emphasis on the word "guess" — is the Magic would decline the offer.
There's just too much risk involved in acquiring Leonard because of Leonard's health and, more importantly, because of Leonard's apparent intention to wind up with a Los Angeles team in 2019. If the Magic were to acquire Leonard for Isaac and/or Bamba and then Leonard were to sign elsewhere, that would decimate Orlando's long-term rebuilding hopes.
Last offseason, All-Star forward Paul George informed the Indiana Pacers he had no intention of re-signing with the Pacers in 2018.
Perhaps the Magic could've insinuated themselves in trade talks for George. But the Magic didn't pounce even though they could've constructed a package centered around Isaac, whom they had just drafted. The risk of losing George in unrestricted free agency for nothing was too great a risk for Orlando to accept.
Magic fans should know the folly of making a move like this.
In 2016, Orlando traded guard Victor Oladipo and the draft rights to power forward Domantas Sabonis to the Oklahoma City Thunder for power forward Serge Ibaka. The Magic made the move even though Ibaka was on the decline and even though Ibaka was scheduled to become a free agent in 2017.
The move turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Oladipo eventually developed into an All-Star and won the 2017-18 Most Improved Player award, while Sabonis has emerged as a promising young player.
Meanwhile, Ibaka never wanted to be in Orlando. The Magic ultimately had to trade him before the 2016-17 trade deadline and received swingman Terrence Ross and a 2017 late first-round Toronto Raptors draft pick in return.
Leonard, of course, is a far, far better player than Ibaka was at that stage of Ibaka's career.
But I don't think the Magic front office would risk trading away high-ceiling young players on rookie-scale contracts for a one-year rental, even if the rental is as great a player as Kawhi Leonard is.
And, no, I don't think the Spurs would be interested in a trade package centered solely around the Magic's veteran players.
Thank you very much for your question, Davis!
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.