Orlando Magic
Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) defends against Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (50) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Magic Searching for New Tricks, Signing Bitadze and Carter-Williams

In search of a spark, as they keep their hopes of playoff basketball alive, the Orlando Magic signed two players: one new and one familiar face.

Free Agent Signings

Feb. 13: Magic signed Goga Bitadze, a 6-foot-11, 230-pound, center who appeared in 21 games for the Indiana Pacers this season.

With his large frame, Bitadze is an international standout who’s only three years removed from being a first-round (18th overall) selection in the 2019 draft.

Before transitioning to the NBA, Bitadze spent his international career in his native country of Georgia, as well as Serbia.

Revenge Tour Begins

Goga made his Magic debut on Feb. 23 against his former Pacers team and did so in fashion.

In 9 minutes, he dropped 6 points and handled 6 rebounds from the floor.

Feb. 26th: Magic signed Michael Carter-Williams, 6-foot-6, 205-pound, free agent guard to a two-year contract.

Carter-Williams, however, is a familiar face in Orlando. He’s a former first-round pick and Rookie of the Year award winner, the now veteran guard spent time with the Magic in each of the past three seasons.

Carter-Williams appeared in 31 games for the Magic in his last healthy season in 2020-21.

He averaged 8.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 25.8 minutes per game. He didn’t see any action in 2021-22 while he was recovering from left ankle surgery prior to being waived last February.

The Magic are hopeful to see production from Williams as he adds depth to the guard position in the back stretch of the season.

New Tricks, New Results?

Sitting at 25-36, and 4th in the East Division, the Magic are seven games back from their in-state foes the Miami Heat with only 21 games left in the regular season.

“There’s always a sense of urgency when you have a chance to get a play-in spot or a playoff spot,” Paolo Banchero told Josh Cohen of the Orlando Magic, “We’ve talked about it as a team. It’s definitely in the back of our minds.”

Banchero is Orlando’s rookie and team’s leader in scoring, assists, rebounds and steals this season.

To make a believable push, the Magic will need strong efforts from both their current and newcomers.

Coming off a frustrating effort against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, shooting a measly 20.7% from beyond the arc, Franz Wagner scored 21 points, his 28th 20-plus-point performance of the season.

Though they have dropped five of their last seven, the divisional leader Miami Heat have dropped four of its last five as well.

If Orlando can turn these tricks into wins, while finding consistency across its lineup, things could get very interesting in the East.

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