Orlando Magic keeping options open with No. 1 pick in NBA draft – Boston Herald

For the Orlando Magic, who have the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, it appears the pre-draft process will be complete by Monday.

It has been over 2 1/2 months since the college basketball season ended, and the Magic won the draft lottery that gave them the first pick nearly five weeks ago.

Most of the pre-draft workouts and interviews wrapped up earlier this week, with most of the top draft prospects traveling to New York City.

But as Jeff Weltman, Magic’s president of basketball operations, puts it, “it’s still early in the process” and there’s plenty of time for Orlando to think about what it’s going to do.

“My father always told me if the paper is due on Friday, don’t turn it in on Monday,” Weltman said while speaking to reporters Monday. “We will continue to evaluate. New information keeps coming in.”

That “paper” is due Thursday night, but the sentiment remains — the Magic will use all the time they can before deciding what to do with the draft’s #1 pick.

Weltman said he expects the Magic to use the No. 1 pick.

It is rare that the best choice is traded. Since the draft lottery began in 1985, the No. 1 has only been traded three times on or before draft night (1986, 1993, and 2017).

But Weltman wouldn’t rule anything out. Deadlines create movement, options and offers that were not previously on the table until the last possible moment.

“It’s our job to explore every opportunity to make our team better,” Weltman said. “We take as much time as possible for this.”

Former Duke forward Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren and Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. have been considered the three prospects expected to play for since the college basketball season ended be considered the top choices.

Many rival executives and scouts have believed the No. 1 pick will boil down to two players – Holmgren and Smith – as the Magic won the draft lottery.

But the Magic have brought several players to their draft board for practice in Orlando for a closer look ahead of Thursday.

“The conversation doesn’t just stay with that selection because we have to be willing to jump around,” Weltman said. “We must be prepared for talks to become real. It’s not like we’re just talking about the top two or three guys.”

The Magic also have two second-round picks, #32 and #35.

Weltman acknowledged they were considering consolidating those picks by attempting to trade into the first round backend or otherwise.

There will be limited playing opportunities for an Orlando team that could have about 10 players under the 25 on the roster for next season.

“How many young people can we get through the forest? They may not all make it, but they have to have a chance,” Weltman said. “We pay attention to that. We have discussions with teams. Because we’re a team that has two early second-round picks and they’re treated differently financially at the salary cap, especially as tax teams, that puts us in a position to have some conversations.”

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi price to khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

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