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Magic know they need to improve shooting, but at what cost?

Although Magic coach Jamahl Mosley and president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman spoke hours apart from each other during Monday’s exit interviews, they recognize the same area of need for Orlando‘s improvement entering next season.

“Reflecting back, you look at shooting,” said Mosley less than 24 hours after the Magic’s season came to an end Sunday in Cleveland.

Added Weltman later in the afternoon at AdventHealth Training Center: “We have a lot of needs. I know that most publicly highlighted need if I were to ask would probably be shooting.”

With a clear goal in mind entering the summer, the Magic have three obvious ways to improve their ability to knock down long-range shots on a consistent basis — acquiring new players through trades, courting them through free agency or selecting them in June’s NBA draft. Orlando holds the No. 18 pick.

Last offseason, the Magic added veteran free agent Joe Ingles, who shot a team-best 43.5% from distance but only averaged 2.4 attempts, the eighth-most on the team in 68 games played, and drafted lottery picks Anthony Black and Jett Howard.

While Black made a leap as a 3-point shooter — 39.4% as a rookie after 30.1% in his one year at Arkansas — and Howard showed potential spending most of his time in the G League (shot 37.7% on 9.5 attempts with Osceola), neither one were part of Orlando’s rotation when the group was healthy.

Even though Ingles provided the Magic with a sense of calmness when he stepped onto the court as a distributor (3.0 assists, third most on team) and offered a veteran presence with 50-plus playoff appearances, his minutes were limited (17.2 off the bench) in his 10th career season.

The task of finding someone who can play more minutes and be a trustworthy threat from beyond the arc — at the right price — is easier said than done.

Weltman believes Orlando is an attractive location for players around the league, especially after the Magic’s first postseason appearance since 2020 and 47 regular season wins for the No. 5 seed in the East.

“From teams understanding what you’re trying to accomplish this summer, from maybe free agents wanting to look at your place as a potential destination, [it] definitely signals to people that, ‘Hey the Magic are coming,'” he said.

With season over, Magic reflect on past, present and future

There is, however, a fourth option to how the Magic can improve shooting, but it requires more patience than just adding a new player to the mix.

“A big portion of it is just our young guys continuing to get better and work on aspects of their game,” Mosley said.

Orlando saw that first hand when third-year guard Jalen Suggs took a jump in his 3-point shooting from 32.7% on 3.8 attempts in 2022-23 to 39.7% on 5.1 attempts this season.

Even Paolo Banchero improved following his Rookie of the Year campaign, increasing his rate from 29.8% to 33.9% on nearly the same amount of 3-point attempts (4.0 to 4.4).

“For whatever it’s worth, since January 1st, we were the [15th] 3-point percentage team in the NBA,” Weltman said. “So, I don’t believe we are totally bereft of shooting.

“Some of this is, guys grow up. When you have a team as young as ours, when we talk about player development, this is part of developing a player. They get better the longer they’re in the league.”

Taking a look at the numbers, Weltman makes a solid point. From the start of January through the end of the regular season, the Magic shot 36.3% from 3 and there were three teams tied for 14th at 36.5% (Bucks, Kings, Knicks).

That statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. Orlando shot 35.2% from 3 for the year. Although the Magic’s long-range percentage improved from a year ago (up from 34.6%), they were still 24th out of 30 for a second consecutive season.

And not everyone got better.

“Some of our guys had down shooting years that I would expect to be better,” Weltman admitted. “That’s part of our internal growth.”

Although he didn’t name names, the most obvious rotational players who saw a drop in 3-point accuracy were Franz Wagner and Gary Harris.

Wagner dipped from 36.1% to 28.1% while Harris went from 43.1% to 37.1%.

There’s important context that comes with these numbers: Wagner still improved in almost every area of his game (recorded career-highs in scoring, assists, rebounds, steals) while Harris missed 28 games with injury, including 16 because of a right calf strain.

Knowing his work ethic, it’s likely Wagner will put in the proper amount of offseason training to return to form. And a summer spent getting healthy will surely help Harris.

But the idea of adding a sharpshooter through free agency, a trade or the draft is something Weltman will consider over the coming weeks as the front office evaluates needs.

None of the options to improve Orlando’s shooting woes, however, is easy.

There’s not a switch Weltman can flip to accomplish the challenge overnight and he isn’t willing to throw away what the franchise has built since Mosley’s arrival.

“I do feel that it’s an area where we obviously want to look to get better but not at the expense of the things that cost of our DNA,” he said. “There’s a reason we were a good team this year, and we don’t want to lose that.”

Jason Beede can be reached at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com