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Why did the Magic trade Tobias Harris again?

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Harris faces his former team in Pistons home opener tonight

NBA: Preseason-Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic radically transformed themselves in the past year and it all began with the surprise trade that sent Tobias Harris to the Detroit Pistons for the expiring contracts of Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings.

Harris plays his former team tonight and you wouldn’t blame him for wondering to himself why exactly his team traded him in the first place.

Not that he’s complaining. He instantly flourished once arriving in Detroit. He not only averaged career highs in points, assists and shots, but he played the most efficient ball of his career.

Harris also proved to be a dynamic and versatile offensive option, giving Detroit a new wrinkle that was crucial to their success just as teams seemed to solve some of the dangers of the Reggie Jackson-Andre Drummond pick-and-roll.

Orlando, meanwhile, oh boy. They say man plans and God laughs. Well, I’m sure God had more important things to do in the offseason than monitor the dealings of Magic GM Rob Hennigan, but it certainly was a strange offseason in Orlando.

First, the coach that seemingly ran Harris out of Orlando (after first running him out of Milwaukee), Scott Skiles, abruptly resigned as head coach. Next, the Magic found themselves with a metric ton of cap space this offseason.

I’m sure had their sights set on some of the big fish in the FA pool. What they came away with, instead were Bismack Biyombo ($17 million per year), Jeff Green ($15 million), Serge Ibaka ($12.5 million) DJ Augustin ($7.25 million) and Jodie Meeks ($6.5 million). They also re-signed restricted free agent Evan Fournier ($17 million per year).

They came away with plenty of talent, but nobody is quite sure how it all fits. And if there is anyone that can turn it all around for Orlando (especially on defense) it’s new coach Frank Vogel. The disposed Indy coach was able to turn just about anything into chicken salad no matter what Larry Bird brought to the roster. If Vogel can take that Indiana team and turn it into a top-10 defense five straight years including two No. 1s and a No. 3, then he can do it in Orlando, too. Still, the offense looks to be a major question mark.

Ibaka had regressed his last few seasons, but, hey, maybe once he is out of the shadow of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in OKC, he could unleash some untapped offensive potential. Biyombo is a fearsome defender who doesn’t do much else. Neither Elfrid Payton not Aaron Gordon can shoot and they’ll now both be on the perimeter desperate for some floor spacing so they can get to the rim. Jeff Green is Jeff Green, and no more damning statement needs to be made.

Actually more does need to be said. From an outside perspective it seemed that the only reason Green was signed was because Orlando struck out on other, better targets and had $15 million burning a hole in their pocket.

Coincidentally, Harris makes $17 million. In other words, instead of Harris locking down the small forward position on a declining salary for the next few years, the Magic thought it better to sign Jeff Green and play Aaron Gordon out of position at small forward for a year. Then, surely, they’ll get that big-name free agent they have been chasing.

Harris has been nothing but diplomatic about his exit from the Magic less than one year after signing a lucrative multi-year deal. He’s gone from a square peg in a series of misshapen holes in Orlando to a team that was desperate for his greatest strengths and a coach who knew exactly how he wanted to utilize him.

With a full offseason to integrate his skills into the Pistons’ offense, it looks like Harris might even take another step forward in Detroit. He was the No. 1 option on offense this preseason and led the team in points while hitting 50 percent overall and 92 percent from the free-throw line. In Detroit’s embarrassing loss to the Toronto Raptors, Harris was just about the only player to acquit himself well.

He’s found a home in Detroit, and he looks to show his former team what they’re missing.