- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Compared to LeBron’s trumpeted grand plan, Shaquille O’Neal slipped away from the Orlando Magic in 1996 as if he merely had been transferred by the home office to another job in Los Angeles. Trust me, kids, Shaq’s move to the Lakers was a huge deal in Orlando — just not as noisy from beginning to end as today’s latest LeBron update and maniacal following. We’ve heard the ticking of King James’ free-agent clock for the past two seasons. But there was no crazed recruiting of Shaq by other teams and cities as there is with LeBron. No celebrities from L.A. were publicly wooing him. No lavish tours discussed. No competition outside L.A. It was Orlando’s “dried-up pond” (as Shaq so derisively called it later) vs. Hollywood. When all was said and done — and very little was said or done — the Magic had no chance against the Lakers, Shaq’s boyhood dream team. He simply signed a seven-year, $121-million contract with L.A., formally announcing the NBA’s biggest-ever free-agent move at a news conference during a little event I attended called the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Shaq’s period of free agency occurred 14 years ago, before ESPN covered everything like it was a moon launch, before 24/7 sports talk and sports blogs overwhelmed the Internet, before athletes were all a-Twitter.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel continues the retrospective look at Shaquille O’Neal, stating that the Orlando Magic are to blame for the big fella leaving in 1996: “It was a perfect storm of chaos. Most important on the list: The Magic lowballed Shaq with an offer that they faxed to him. Three years, a little less than $50 million. Meanwhile, NBA icon Jerry West showed up at Shaq’s hotel room in Atlanta with a max contract. Seven years, approaching $121 million. [...] There were other significant factors as well: Dennis Tracey, Shaq’s former teammate at LSU and personal assistant, had fallen out of the picture, leaving agent Leonard Armato as the one of the most influential voices in Shaq’s ear. Leonard was an LA guy, and pushed for Shaq to sign with Los Angeles. Sitting courtside at Lakers games in the vicinity of Nicholson certainly can improve your profile. And let’s not forget that Shaq had written in his book that he dreamed of playing for the Lakers.”
- Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “[J.J.] Redick‘s career 3-point percentage at Duke? 40.58. Redick’s 3-point percentage last season for the Magic? 40.51. Redick hasn’t left any doubt that his shooting translates to a taller, more athletic environment. Just two seasons ago, Redick couldn’t get off the Magic’s bench, but he has put in a ton of work to improve his peripheral game. He developed an off-the-dribble attack this season that’s especially effective in pick-and-roll situations. It’s a little-known fact that Redick shot more 2-pointers than 3-pointers this past season and posted the second-most-efficient season in the NBA, scoring 123 points every 100 possessions. He’s a restricted agent this summer, and don’t be surprised if a playoff team tries to snag him with the midlevel exception.”
- Adonal Foyle talks about working on the new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA.
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Redick is Allen-light, a deadly shooter with a high basketball IQ and the experience of playing on a great defensive team. This past season was Redick’s best. He earned crunch-time minutes in a lot of big games and may be ready for a starting role. But because he’s restricted, it will be tough for a team to pry him away from Orlando at a reasonable price.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk comments on Dwight Howard‘s move to join agent Dan Fegan: “Fegan did play a role in previous CBA talks, when he was the most powerful agent going, but he is not going to have that kind of pull this time around. His current client lineup is nice, but not THAT nice. The marketing angle makes less sense. Goodwin’s people got Howard a ton of endorsement, including McDonald’s and those ubiquitous T-Mobile ads. They worked to help him create a real social media platform to broaden his marketability. Bottom line, Goodwin did a very good job. Fegan may as well, he’s another powerhouse lined up with a powerhouse international firm. But it still feels like a piece of the puzzle is missing from this story.”
- Another Gilbert Arenas-to-the-Magic rumor, from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “The Magic are said to be actively considering trade scenarios that could provide Dwight Howard with a post-up power forward to play with, a play-maker to replace what Hedo Turkoglu brought to the 2009 Eastern Conference championship team, or a dynamic point guard. It would be easy enough to move Rashard Lewis to small forward and satisfy Howard’s first wish – something he feels strongly enough about to begin “heavily recruiting” free agents that fit the description, according to a source. As for the second item, if I were GM Otis Smith, I’d be exploring a Vince Carter-for-Joe Johnson sign-and-trade; what an upgrade that would be for a team that sorely missed Turkoglu in the conference finals against Boston this year. The third option is the most interesting: A person with knowledge of the Magic’s plans said a trade for Gilbert Arenas, the one-time superstar whose reputation took a massive hit with his gun suspension last season, remains a “definite possibility.” Smith has a good relationship with Arenas, but a stumbling block could be the fact that Howard has questions about whether Arenas would fit in. If Howard gets the answers he’s looking for, there could be legs to the Arenas-to-Orlando scenario.”
- In case you missed it, here’s a short list of power forwards that would make sense for Orlando given their skill-sets. I readily admit that I’m iffy about Carlos Boozer, but I threw him into the conversation for the sake of completeness.