ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic went after athleticism and more help on defense with their two lottery picks in Thursday’s NBA draft.
After flirting with the idea of trying to move up or possibly even down in the days before the draft, in the end the Magic stayed where they were in taking Arizona’s Aaron Gordon at No. 4 and Croatia forward Dario Saric at No. 12.
Saric didn’t stay long, though, with Orlando later trading his rights to Philadelphia in exchange for Louisiana-Lafayette point guard and No. 10 pick Elfrid Payton.
The 6-foot-9 Gordon said he wasn’t surprised to be selected at No. 4, and reiterated that he was comfortable playing either small or power forward in the NBA.
“I’m most comfortable as a perimeter player, definitely. However I do love posting up,” Gordon said. “But I’m a very capable of blowing by people. And I trust my jumper a lot more than I did at Arizona. But when it comes down to it, it’s all up coach (Magic coach Jacque) Vaughn…It all comes down to where he wants to put me.”
The trade with Philadelphia was announced during the first round Thursday night, and sent Payton from Philadelphia to Orlando in return to the draft rights of Saric.
Philadelphia is being compensated by getting Orlando’s 2015 second-round pick and the future first-round it received from Philadelphia in trading Dwight Howard in 2012.
The Sixers will eventually get Saric, the 2013 FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year, after he spends an additional two years playing overseas.
“As we went through the process there were quite a few things that stood out about (Gordon) that we really grew to like,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. “Mainly his competitiveness, his desire to want to play team basketball, and to really try to impact the game in a variety of ways.”
The Magic get a point guard of the future in the 6-foot-3 Payton, who could possibly be a replacement for veteran Jameer Nelson, who is entering the final year of a partially guaranteed contract.
In regards to Nelson, Hennigan would say only that his future was “to be determined” when asked what Payton’s selection means for his status going forward.
Earlier Thursday Orlando picked up the 56th overall pick from Denver by trading swingman Arron Afflalo back to the Nuggets for point guard Evan Fournier. The Magic selected Iowa guard Roy Devyn Marble with the pick.
Afflalo previously played three seasons for the Nuggets before being dealt to Orlando as part of the Howard trade. He is also coming off averaging a career-high 18 points per game last season for the Magic.
But with Afflalo gone, in Gordon the Magic add another athletic player to go along with guard Victor Oladipo, who finished second in rookie of the year voting last season.
Gordon will compete with Magic forwards Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris for playing time early.
The Magic are coming off a 23-59 finish this past season and haven’t made the playoffs since Howard’s departure.
It’s created a win-starved fan base for which Gordon said he has a simple message.
“I’d just tell them that I have a motor,” Gordon said. “And my motor will continue to run.”
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