Philadelphia 76ers: $50 million is a lot to pay for Markelle Fultz

Thankfully, a Fultz extension is no longer the Philadelphia 76ers’ problem.

Now that the dust has fully settled, it’s pretty safe to say the Philadelphia 76ers won the Markelle Fultz-Orlando Magic trade.

Granted, it’s never nice to see a former first overall pick exchanged for a top-20 protected first-round pick that becomes a pair of twos if it doesn’t convey. That’s bad value extracted by an inexperienced GM (Elton Brand). However, when a new, much better talent evaluator uses said pick to acquire arguably the steal of the draft, Tyrese Maxey, for said pick, it’s all good.

In a lot of ways, Maxey is like a better, younger, far more likable Fultz, and the Sixers will surely roll with him happily over the next four years.

But hey, don’t feel too bad for the Orlando Magic; they clearly aren’t too disappointed with their mid-season reclamation project.

Clearly.

In case you are somehow living under a rock, you probably know that Orlando isn’t exactly a sprawling hub of free agency activity. I know, *spoiler alert*. While I would personally be incredibly content playing a few miles down the road from EPCOT and Universal Studios Florida – especially around Halloween Horror Nights – apparently this current crop of NBA superstars have much lower opinions of themed entertainment, instead opting to force their way to such popping metropolitan destinations like Los Angeles, Miami, and… Charlotte (?). If the Magic were ever going to land a marquee, name-brand player the likes of which they could put on season tickets or offer jerseys of in OIA, they’d need to trade for one.

Does reclaiming a ‘broken’ former top pick always work out? No, but when it does, like when the Brooklyn Nets landed D’Angelo Russell as a sweetener in a salary dump, it can significantly elevate a middling franchise stuck in the 6-10 range of the Eastern Conference.

Even if Fultz’s objectively broken 3 point shot severely limits his ceiling as a pro, he’s still an exciting player capable of recording the occasional triple-double. For a few million a year, the Magic landed a feel-good story that may ultimately pay out big a few years down the li… *phone buzz*.

What!?

Alright, alright, alright, apparently the Magic like Fultz a whole lot, as the franchise just extended the third-year pro to a massive three-year, $50 million deal according to Adrian Wojnarowski. That’s *phew* that’s a lot of money.

How much money? Well, it’s certainly more than the 76ers are paying their entire bench in 2020-21 and more than Seth Curry is making despite being one of the best 3 point shooters in the entire NBA. It’s also more than Danny Green is set to make in 2020-21, and he’s a three-time NBA champion with fantastic defensive stop-ability, a deadly 3 point shot, and one of the best podcasts around (more on that here).

And as for Fultz? Well, his 2019-20 stat line – 12.1 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.3 rebounds – is both his career-best by a pretty considerable margin and also not even close to worth roughly $16.6 million a year.

Heck, Fultz’s win share in 2019-20 was lower than that of his former teammate Furkan Korkmaz, another former first-round pick who is actually a pretty good 3 point shooter signed to a two-year deal worth $3.38 million total.

To make matters all the more confusing, the Magic literally just landed Fultz’s successor in the 2020 NBA Draft in highly-touted UNC point guard Cole Anthony – another speedy, streaky point guard who brings swag – and a functional 3 point shot – to the table. Why would the Magic sign Fultz to a deal in the same range as Dennis Schroder, Caris LeVert, and Davis Bertans when he may be coming off the bench by year two? Did they think he’d get bigger contract offers next summer? Do they think that contract is a positive trade asset? Because it surely is not.

I genuinely have no idea what is going on right now.

$50 million is a lot of money. You can buy 100 pairs of Air Jordan 11 Retro Premium Derek Jeter, pay every player in the WNBA, and still have enough money to secure lifetime season passes for both Disney World and Universal Studios with money to spare. Is investing that kind of money in a 22-year-old point guard with a sub-30 percent 3 point shot really the best use of the Orlando Magic’s assets, or does it borderline guarantee that their decade-plus of mediocrity since Shaq, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard left town will continue on for the foreseeable future with no end in sight? Boy, thank goodness that decision that was on the Philadelphia 76ers no longer has to be bothered with – instead, they get to watch Tyrese Maxey flourish for roughly $18 million over the next five years. Yeah, trade officially won.