With the bulk of summer's offseason movements coming to a close, Summer League wrapped up and the schedule set to come out next week, it is time to enter the deadest period of the NBA calendar and let our imaginations run wild.
That is right, the first round of 2014 predictions will be coming out now. ESPN is already way ahead of us.
Tom Haberstroh of ESPN ranked the 15 Eastern Conference teams, taking the first stab at predicting the Eastern Conference. For those hoping for the Magic to fall to the bottom, Haberstroh does not see things that way. He places the Magic 12th:
The Magic seem primed for a veteran fire sale at some point. Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and Al Harrington are all on sizable contracts that could be attractive to playoff teams looking to clear future cap space and/or bolster their rotation.
Such a move would make sense if Orlando wants to keep their names in the "Riggin' for Wiggins" hat for 2014. A core of Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic is promising but not good enough to keep themselves out of the East basement.
Yes, those pesky veterans. It is important to remember that with Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis in the lineup (and healthy), the Magic were 12-13 and hanging around a lot more than most people thought. There seems no doubt that the Magic will work hard and play hard. They will be a tough out. The lack of shooting and the eventual veteran firesale just about everyone sees coming will change things.
The Magic's win-loss success depend on what they do with the veterans and how they play this season and mesh with the young talent.
Haberstroh has the Magic ahead of the Celtics, Bobcats and 76ers. He has the Heat at the top followed by the Nets and Bulls.
Do you think this ranking for Orlando is fair this season? Could the Magic compete for a Playoff spot this season?