- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic General Manager Otis Smith can see both sides of the discussion about whether or not NBA players should dedicate so much of their summers to playing for their countries. He understands the struggle of players with limited free time. Mostly, he supports it because playing for your country is an honor. His star, Magic center Dwight Howard, re-affirmed his commitment to play in the World Championships with Team USA this summer. But Smith acknowledges his might be a situational perspective. ‘I guarantee you’ll get a different answer from a general manager that has an abundance of European players,’ Smith said.”
- Good news. Dwight Howard’s AAU team is doing well. The DH Warriors are 7-1 and won their last game on a buzzer-beating half-court shot by Matt Clark.
- Sean Deveney of The Baseline chooses Josh Smith over Howard on his ballot for Defensive Player of the Year and explains why: “Howard is a dominant defender and fearsome in the lane, and it’s likely he will win this award. But the reason Smith edges him on my ballot is that his athleticism allows him to get out and defend the perimeter, and is one of the chief reasons the Hawks are able to use their switch-everything approach to pick-and-rolls.”
- Jason Williams is a player that doesn’t get his shot blocked very much.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus chimes in on a team’s ability to win close games: “There are, generally speaking, two schools of thought on close games: That they reveal a team’s true ability and that they are decided by luck. My research on the subject last year for Basketball Prospectus offered a middle ground, suggesting that good teams win close games more often than bad teams, but that the element of randomness mitigates the talent gap.” In the Magic’s case, they perform worse than expected in close games. Red flag?
- Vince Carter, according to Dime Magazine, is one of the most hated players in the NBA: “Hated by the entire city of Toronto and possibly all of Canada. Critics get on him for settling for jump shots, even though every other high-flyer before or after Vince has been encouraged to adjust their game eventually and take more jumpers. Call him soft, call him lazy, but then he drops 40 or gives you a game-winner and your point becomes moot.”
- Tracy McGrady wants to be back in Orlando. Ditto with Mike Miller.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post talks about the possibility of either McGrady or Miller re-joining the Magic during the off-season: “Obviously, there are downsides. Miller’s had trouble staying healthy, and though he’s still a deadeye shooter–he’s posted a True Shooting percentage of better than 58.8 in each of the last 6 seasons, and he’s second among swingmen (minimum: 30 minutes per game) at 60.8% this season–he’s spent each of the last 3 years trying to re-invent himself as a point forward, and has thus passed up numerous open shot attempts. Also, his lateral mobility is more-or-less gone, which makes him a defensive liability. McGrady has his own set of red flags, as he’s recovering from microfracture knee surgery and still trying to figure out how to play without the benefit of the all-world athleticism that helped him win back-to-back scoring titles in 2002/03 and 2003/04. Oh, and the way he sulked his way out of Orlando after that disastrous 21-61 season has made him Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of most Magic fans. Owner Rich DeVos, who’d be footing the luxury-tax bill once again next year, might be loathe to pay the man who publicly trashed his franchise after demanding–and being granted–a trade. So they’re likely not going to be the Magic’s top options this summer [...]”
- Paul Forrester of Sports Illustrated isn’t impressed with Matt Barnes‘ poise.