Slumping Magic face decisions at Feb. 18 trade deadline

Somewhere in his memorabilia collection, Scott Skiles has a New York Knicks game jersey.

It has his name on the back. The jersey tells a tale about a player's life at the unpredictable trade deadline.

Skiles isn't exactly sure when the trade that never was occurred during his career that spanned 10 seasons with five teams, including the Magic (1989-94).

"I actually apparently got traded [to New York], but then it got pulled back," he said. "I actually had a Knicks jersey with my name on it because we played the Knicks the next game and they already had the jersey made up. So they gave it to me.

"I got it somewhere. I don't know where it is."

Skiles also knows first-hand as a veteran coach about how the possibility of changing addresses can run through a team, especially a club that _ like his Magic _ is struggling.

The trade deadline this season is Feb. 18.

"As far as the deadline goes, every player is different," Skiles said. "Some people I know get stressed. To me, it's like boarding an airplane. Once you're on the plane, there's nothing you can do. It's out of your control. What are you stressing about? You're already on board.

"It's in the team's control. I know guys that didn't particularly care one way or another about the deadline. It didn't bother them; they just played. Then there's other guys it can bother. Especially nowdays with rumors all over the place."

The Magic are in Year 4 of their rebuild.

Their recent slump _ though they did defeat the Hawks, 96-94 on Sunday _ produces speculation that Magic management could change the roster.

General manager Rob Hennigan has said that the Magic need more veterans.

Hennigan has assembled a core of young players, including four from the draft lotteries: shooting guard Victor Oladipo, point guard Elfrid Payton, small forward Aaron Gordon and rookie swingman Mario Hezonja.

They make up a nucleus that also includes center Nik Vucevic, small forward Tobias Harris and swingman Evan Fournier, players who were acquired in previous trades for Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick and Aaron Afflalo, respectively.

The question is whether Hennigan, CEO Alex Martins and ownership _ who all talked about being in the playoff conversation this season _ will attempt to break up this core group at the deadline or this summer.

Vucevic, along with power forward Andrew Nicholson, has been with the club since the start of the rebuild. He doesn't feel its sudden swoon this season warrants the Magic playing let's-make-a-deal.

"That's no reason to think we need to change anything. We have to find a way within each other to get back to what we were doing early in the year," Vucevic said. "We just got to find a way to get out of this [slump].

"Trades or whatever ... I don't think about that _ that's not my job _ and I never will."

Most players don't even want to address the possibility of being dealt. Harris said he's "not on Twitter that much" so he doesn't know if there are trade rumors surrounding the Magic.

"Moreso than anything, we're thinking about our next game," Harris said.

Veteran power forward/center Jason Smith said the trade deadline looms in the minds of players _ whether they admit it.

"It's always in the back of your mind," Smith said. "The only thing I have to worry about is what I can control. Things I can control is how hard I work in practice, take care of my body, get my rest, eat right. Trade-deadline stuff is out of my control."