AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Orlando Magic shooting guard Terrence Ross could emerge as a popular target ahead of the 2023 NBA trade deadline in February.
Ross expressed interest in a trade after last season, saying the team’s front office was “well aware” of his desire to join a team in better position to contend.
“We’re definitely in different spots,” Ross told reporters in April. “I feel like I’m a part of that old regime, and they’re going in a different direction. I don’t know what they’ve got in store for me. It’s hard to say. They don’t really let me know too much about what they’re doing. I’m kind of here just along for the ride.”
An offseason trade never arrived, but he’ll probably land back on the trade block over the next few months with Orlando fading out of contention.
Ross has proved himself a mostly effective
role player across 11-plus NBA seasons. His career started as a
first-round pick of the Toronto Raptors in 2012, and the University of Washington product was traded
to the Magic in 2017, where he’s spent the past five years.
The 31-year-old is a capable scorer, averaging 11.2 points and 1.8 threes across 687 games, but his impact in other areas is limited. He’s averaged
2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in his career.
One concern that emerged in recent seasons is his defense. He rated a minus-3.4 in FiveThirtyEight’s
defensive Raptor last season, which was far below his mark in previous years and
basically washed out any effectiveness he’s enjoyed at the offensive
end. It’s a troublesome trend that’s continued in the early stages this season (minus-0.9).
Ross never performed that poor
defensively in prior years, so it’s possible the issues are related to
Orlando’s teamwide struggles (5-14 record) and he’ll bounce back to more average
performance levels following a trade.
What the Portland, Oregon, native definitely
brings is versatility. The 6’7″, 206-pound forward is able to play multiple positions thanks to
his length and athleticism, and he’s experienced as both a starter
and a reserve.
“I’ve done both, so I’m comfortable
with doing both,” Ross told Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel last October about starting or coming off the bench. “It’s not like
either would be new to me.”
Let’s examine several potential landing spots if he’s moved before the deadline.
Los Angeles Lakers
Ross would be a low-risk addition
for the Lakers, who are desperately seeking a spark after a 6-11 start to the season. He would represent a scoring boost off the
bench at minimum, and there’s a legitimate chance he could provide even
more value if his defense returns to its usual level.
The Lakers rank last in the NBA in both three-pointers made per game (9.1) and three-point shooting percentage (30.6). So, while their roster needs a lot of work to move back toward contention, a reliable outside shooter may top the list.
Ross, who’s shooting 39.2 percent from beyond the arc this season, should slot in as key wing
depth behind LeBron James and Austin Reaves upon his arrival in L.A.
The Hawks’ trade of Kevin Huerter, who’s enjoying a breakout season with the Sacramento Kings, got lost amid the team’s busy offseason, but it’s left the team a little short on three-point shooting behind Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.
Atlanta sits 29th in threes per game (9.6) and 26th in three-point percentage (32.7), but the team still ranks ninth in scoring (114.8 points per game), which suggests the offense has top-five potential if it’s able to add another outside shooter or two.
Ross certainly fits the bill given his success from long range so far this season, and he’d also provide some veteran leadership for a squad looking to reach contender status.
A reunion with the Raptors would not only be a cool storyline, but it could provide a spark for an offense that’s been a bit sluggish during a 9-9 start to the season.
Toronto ranks 17th in points per game (111.7), 23rd in threes made (11.0) and 25th in three-point percentage (33.1). Those problems are magnified when Fred VanVleet, who’s missed six of the team’s 18 games, is out of the lineup.
Ross could provide a nice boost to the Raptors’ backcourt reserve group, and it would also be a chance for him to write a second chapter with the organization following an initial up-and-down five-year run in Toronto.
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