- General manager Otis Smith: “I think our team is better overall. I don’t think it was a matter of dismantling our roster and then putting it back together. I think it was a matter of keeping our team together, keeping some continuity and making some tweaks and adjustments, which we did by bringing in Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson. We brought them in so we would be able to do some things better than we did before. Now with all that said, we’re going to have to be a mentally tougher team than we have been the last two years. It has nothing to do with our Xs and Os or a jump shot made, free throws or rebounds. We just have to be a mentally tougher basketball team. Can we compete with those teams at that level? Sure we can. You don’t win 59 games back-to-back years and go to the Eastern Conference Finals back-to-back years and go to The Finals one of those years without being able to compete at that level. We just have to do the 1/8 of an inch, the amount that it takes you to go from good to great. We may go through some rough points in the season that we grow out of through the course of the postseason. That’s kind of why you go through an 82 game season. You’re not going to go through an 82 game season and win 69 games and just run through the playoffs that way. It doesn’t work that way. You’re going to have to experience some ups and downs, get some bumps and bruises and mend so that you can make a playoff run.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post wonders who will be the starting small forward for the Orlando Magic on opening night: “On the whole, [Mickael] Pietrus has youth and familiarity with the team’s system on his side, and he’s joined the Magic’s starting five in each of the last two season-openers. Yet he’s also started just 49 of his 129 games with the Magic, and the team fared better with him as part of the second unit last year, benefitting from Matt Barnes’ energy and hustle. Furthermore, a recent study suggested that the Nelson/Carter/Pietrus/Lewis/Howard configuration vastly underperformed last season; it proved less than the sum of its parts. Does [Stan] Van Gundy trust that lineup to put it together this year? If the answer is no, the job clearly belongs to Richardson, despite his earning less than half of what Pietrus will this season.”
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated thinks Fran Vazquez comes away a ‘loser’ after the 2010 FIBA World Championships concluded a few days ago: “Remember Vazquez? Orlando’s lottery pick (11th overall) in 2005 who has never played a minute in the NBA? Vazquez had a couple of big games, highlighted by a 16-point performance against Slovenia and a 19-point showing against Canada. But he didn’t make a consistent impact, and he vanished in Spain’s loss to Argentina. What’s more, Vazquez sounds indifferent in interviews about ever playing in the NBA. No question Vazquez’s size (6-10, 229 pounds) and natural shot-blocking skills make him an intriguing prospect, but at 27 it might be time to write him off.”
- Dwight Howard: “I think our team is fine how it is. We don’t need much. We’re right there every year. It’s really the little pieces that make the engine go. What it’s really going to come down to is my leadership and how well me and Jameer [Nelson] work together. But I have to be the leader of the team in order to get us over the hump.”
- There could never be enough chatter about the Magic and the Miami Heat.
- See what I mean? Shaun Powell of NBA.com has more: “The stretch of Florida’s Turnpike between Miami and Orlando is famous for toll booths, orange groves, a handful of unfortunate possums who weren’t quick enough and now, for scorched earth. That’s from the piping rivalry being ratcheted up between the great basketball teams residing in the state. All the necessary ingredients are there to make for a spicy stew: Territorial and professional pride, championship aspirations, hard feelings, angry words, ego and intense competition. In other words, just what the NBA needs — a taste of drama with a strong kick to it. […] Because this is how it works in sports, the basketball community will rush to have the Magic fitted for white hats. The same folks who despised Vince Carter, for example, will now root for him. J.J. Redick might even get some love. And everyone will revisit Van Gundy’s exit as coach in Miami and portray him as a victim, for good reason (although he did walk away with swollen pockets).”
- An official welcome for Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel.
- Chad Ford of ESPN Insider gives Orlando’s a C- for their off-season: “The Magic are loaded. They have deep talent at virtually every position and, as in the past two seasons, look poised to make another deep run into the playoffs. But as far as summers go, they didn’t have a great one. While teams like the Heat, Celtics and Bulls upgraded or reloaded, the Magic basically stood pat. Considering they failed to make the Finals this year, that’s a bit surprising. Magic fans are hoping that Redick continues to improve, that Duhon adds some stability at the point and that [Daniel] Orton could end up being a late first-round steal. But the truth is that while much of the East got better, the Magic stood still.”