The Orlando Magic have traded with many of the NBA’s best players like Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, and others. But which trade was the best for the Magic? To figure this out, we’ll list the top 7 trades in Magic history based on these factors: How well the acquired player performed, how good the trade was, and how it affected the team.
- 7 Greatest Magic Trades Ranked
7 Greatest Magic Trades Ranked
7. 2009 – Magic acquire Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson
Trade Breakdown: The Magic traded Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.
After losing in the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic made a big move by getting Vince Carter, an 8-time All-Star, from the New Jersey Nets. Even though Carter’s time with the Magic was short, he was the second-highest scorer for Orlando during the 2009-10 season. This was a successful season for the team, winning 59 games and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The trade also brought Ryan Anderson, a skilled stretch-4 player, to the Magic. This part of the trade was not as noticed, but Anderson turned out to be a very productive starter. In the 2011-12 season, he even won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award while playing for the Magic. Although the trade didn’t result in another trip to the Finals, it was remarkable because the Magic gained two productive starters without giving away any future draft picks. Overall, this trade was a great success for the Orlando Magic.
6. 2006 – Magic trade Steve Francis
Trade Breakdown: The Magic traded Steve Francis to the New York Knicks in exchange for Trevor Ariza and Penny Hardaway.
This trade was difficult to accept initially. Steve Francis was still performing well, but he was unhappy with the Magic due to the trade of his close friend Cuttino Mobley. Additionally, he had been suspended by the team for refusing to play in a game. Clearly wanting to leave Orlando, Francis was traded at the right moment. After the trade, he only played 78 more games before retiring due to health problems. Despite having three years and $49 million left on his contract, the Magic managed to move him to New York.
Penny Hardaway, a former Magic player, didn’t actually play for the team again. However, Trevor Ariza, who was just 20 years old at the time of the trade, gained some experience with the Magic and contributed positively.
Regrettably, the Magic let go of Ariza prematurely by trading him to the Lakers for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans. This decision backfired, as Ariza became a starter for the Lakers and played a role in denying the Magic a championship in 2009.
5. 2012 – Magic trade Dwight Howard
Trade Breakdown: The Magic received Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a 2013 2nd round pick (Romero Osby), a 2014 1st round pick (Dario Saric), Christian Eyenga, Josh McRoberts, a 2017 2nd round pick (Wesley Iwundu), Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, and a 2018 1st round pick (Landry Shamet).
In exchange, the Magic sent Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, and Jason Richardson.
Fortunately for the Magic, a huge trade involving four teams (Lakers, Sixers, Nuggets) turned out to be much better for Orlando in the long term. Although it was tough to trade a star like Dwight Howard, who was only 26 at the time, the Magic made a good decision. They received Nikola Vucevic, a high-quality center, in return. Vucevic became a valuable player for the Magic, earning two All-Star selections over his nine seasons with the team.
Howard didn’t regain his top-notch form during his first stint with the Lakers due to back injuries, which changed his playing style as he got older.
The trade was necessary for Orlando, and ultimately it paid off, even though the Magic didn’t fully capitalize on Vucevic’s strong performance or make the most of the draft assets they gained from the trade.
4. 2007 – Magic acquire Rashard Lewis
Trade Details: Magic acquired Rashard Lewis from the Seattle Supersonics for a 2009 2nd-round draft pick (Emir Predzic) and a trade exception.
This one is cheating a bit, as this was a sign-and-trade deal negotiated by the Sonics and Magic. But since technically Lewis was acquired by trade, he belongs on this list. Lewis only played four seasons for the Magic, but he was a critical piece next to Dwight Howard for Stan Van Gundy’s Magic teams that changed the way offense would be played for years to come.
Orlando was one of the first teams to really embrace putting four shooters on the court together and making sure threes came in high volume. Lewis, who averaged 2.6 made threes a game on nearly 40 percent shooting, was a massive part of that and became an All-Star in the 2008-09 season with Orlando.
3. 2004 – Magic acquire Jameer Nelson
Trade Breakdown: The Magic acquired Jameer Nelson from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for a 2005 1st round pick (Julius Hodge).
During the 2004 draft, the Magic made significant moves. They selected Dwight Howard as the first overall pick and then executed a smart trade to acquire Jameer Nelson with the 20th overall pick.
Nelson became one of the players with the longest tenure in the history of the Magic. He spent ten seasons in Orlando and played a crucial role as a dependable point guard and a one-time All-Star selection, supporting the team through various eras. Nelson’s impact is evident across Orlando’s all-time records; he holds the franchise record for assists with 3,501 and ranks fifth in all-time points.
While Dwight Howard was a dominant force, Nelson’s contributions were often overlooked. Nevertheless, he played an underrated role in some of the best moments in Magic history.
2. 2000 – Magic acquire Tracy McGrady
Trade Breakdown: The Magic acquired Tracy McGrady from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a 2005 1st round pick (Fran Vazquez).
Although this was another sign-and-trade agreement, it brought one of the greatest players in Magic history, Tracy McGrady, to the team.
McGrady spent only four seasons with the Magic, but he left a lasting impact. He was chosen as an All-Star and All-NBA player in each of those seasons, and he even led the league in scoring during his last two seasons in Orlando. Despite the team not being able to build a strong supporting cast around him for playoff success, McGrady established himself as one of the league’s premier players during his time in Orlando. He effortlessly scored even while facing constant double-teams.
McGrady’s career trajectory resembled that of many previous Magic stars: outstanding performance in a short period followed by an exit marked by injuries. However, this is not a criticism of McGrady, who is recognized as one of the most exceptionally skilled offensive wings the basketball world has ever witnessed.
1. 1993 – Magic acquire Penny Hardaway
Trade Breakdown: The Magic acquired Penny Hardaway, a 1996 1st round draft pick (Todd Fuller), a 1998 1st round draft pick (Vince Carter), and a 2000 1st round draft pick (Mike Miller) from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Chris Webber.
This trade remains one of the most significant and influential trades in NBA history, with Commissioner David Stern’s announcement of the deal becoming a legendary moment during the draft.
The Magic gained an impressive collection of assets by trading Chris Webber, which included Penny Hardaway. Pairing Hardaway with Shaquille O’Neal created an iconic duo that left a lasting impact on the league.
Hardaway’s time in Orlando lasted only six seasons, but he was a genuine superstar. He earned 4 All-Star selections, was chosen for 3 All-NBA teams, and led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995, although his career was later hampered by injuries.
Chris Webber’s career ultimately saw Hall of Fame-level success, but not while playing for the Warriors. He was traded after his rookie season to the Washington Bullets. The Magic continued to benefit from this trade even after Hardaway’s playing days, as Mike Miller, one of the acquired draft picks, won the Rookie of the Year award.
This blockbuster trade, which brought one of the franchise’s best players, secures its place as the most remarkable trade in the history of the Orlando Magic.