- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Turning 34 in January, [Vince Carter] needs to squeeze out one very good season. And the Magic desperately need him to, as well. That’s where they are in this madcap chase of the new Heat and the old Celtics. They still need Vince Carter, on given nights, to counter, say, scoring stars Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Paul Pierce. They probably don’t sweat the old man at all. After finishing a pedestrian season with a dreadful playoff series against Boston, Carter is said to have trained like an Olympian this summer. His body fat is down almost 4 percent. He’s stronger. He has a better grasp of the offense and his duties. Did we mention he has a contract situation? [...] Once again, it’s not only [Stan] Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith telling him he needs to be Vintage Vince. In a meeting Monday, teammates told him to his face that he needs to quit deferring so much, be aggressive, creative and lead.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Coach Stan Van Gundy has said he will spend the weeks before the Oct. 28 regular-season opener trying to determine if the team is better off with [Rashard] Lewis at small forward. The [Orlando] Magic‘s version of The Great Experiment will have repercussions for the rest of the roster. If Lewis remains the starting power forward, either Quentin Richardson or Mickael Pietrus or maybe even J.J. Redick will serve as the team’s fifth starter. If Lewis starts at small forward, then either Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass will start at the other forward position. Either way, Lewis figures to receive plenty of time at both forward spots in the days and weeks ahead. One reason Van Gundy didn’t play Lewis at small forward during the Boston series was that Lewis had barely played the position during the year and the team wasn’t comfortable with him playing there. Making such a dramatic change in the middle of the playoffs might have done more harm than good. [...] This offseason, Lewis focused on his footwork, his quickness and on strengthening his legs — all to get ready for the defensive demands of playing small forward. Lewis said he’ll play whatever position will help the team win, but he acknowledged he would enjoy making a switch.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel marvels at the Amway Center.
- Can Rashard Lewis and Brandon Bass co-exist on the court? To be determined.
- If Dwight Howard takes Hakeem Olajuwon’s advice to heart, don’t be surprised if he takes a few more jumpers in games this season. This is what Howard had to say: “I’ve just got to keep shooting. That’s the only way you’re going to get comfortable: just keep trying things. The more you try, the better you’ll get at it. I’m not worried about that.”
- Jameer Nelson is leaner and meaner this year.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel wonders if it’s fair to compare Howard offensively to big men of NBA’s past, like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and others.
- Nelson talks about Twitter: “One thing is I just want people to know that I’m a person like them. I can’t reach out to everybody, but on Twitter I think that’s a way for me to reach out to the fans and really tell them that I appreciate them being a fan and supporting the Magic, not only me.”
- The Orlando Magic’s official website has tons of video from Media Day. Check it out.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Maybe it was that Philly edge oozing out his every pore or part of his undeniable swagger, but Jameer Nelson reacted almost incredulously when asked if he was offended by the rumors that his Orlando Magic explored potentially trading for point guard Chris Paul this past summer. Nelson is a far cry from a cocky or boastful type, but deep down he considers himself to be every bit the point guard of Paul, a perennial all-star. And considering the way that Nelson has played when fully healthy the past two seasons, it’s hard to argue with his logic. An all-star back in 2009, Nelson reaffirmed his status as one of the NBA’s elite point guards last spring when he almost single-handedly carried the Magic through the playoffs. [...] Mature enough to analyze his own game and know where he needs to improve to be an elite player who can take his team to a championship. Nelson said he replayed the Boston series over and over in his head for weeks, trying to figure out where he could be better this season. He then worked hard on his body to get lighter so that he could become a more agile defender. Van Gundy said the next step for Nelson is making strides defensively.”
- The Magic are expecting more from Vince Carter this season.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post wonders if it’s wise to rely on Carter so heavily: “There are two interesting things to consider with this sudden spike in Carter features. For one, it’s that the media believe Carter needs more touches. For another, it’s that the entire Magic organization, it seems, agrees with that idea. I’m surprised on both counts. I wrote last week that, ideally, Carter would trim his usage even more, but play the same general style, and the Magic’s offense would rely more heavily on Dwight Howard as a result. The season’s last 41 games showed that this strategy can be successful. Yet it appears that, if anything, Orlando wants Carter to use more possessions.”
- Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD: “While company lines such as hustling, focusing, and sacrificing are certainly important if a team wants to compete for a title, the biggest determinant in Orlando will be how their two biggest stars coexist in their second year playing alongside one another. With the season right around the corner, Dwight Howard and Vince Carter want to make it clear that they’re now on the same page. The same was said last season but the two admittedly struggled to share the touches and alpha male role in Orlando.”
- Make sure to read Kennedy’s article on the relationship between Carter and Howard.
- Howard is releasing an album titled “Shoot for the Stars.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “Until arriving in Orlando, Carter never had played before with a dominating center like Dwight Howard, and he admittedly was uncomfortable with the fit last season, often unsure of his role. They often frustrated each other offensively. His let’s-get-along personality was not what Smith and Van Gundy wanted. They don’t want him deferring to Howard offensively. They want more of the games like his 48-point outburst against New Orleans in February, than games like he had in January, when he averaged just 8.5 points for the month.”
Wednesday’s Magic Word
also I think Bass and Lewis playing together in spurts would work as there strengths compliment each other. I wouldn't mind seeing more fast breaks.
GREAT article, Eddy. You covered a lot of gray areas. I've been wanting to know what the players were doing in the off-season. I'm glad to hear about Carter & Nelson getting slimmer. I think that was the MAIN reason they didn't show much heart in the playoffs VS the Celtics last yr. You can't dig deep and play with heart if you aren't conditioned well. This makes me feel good that they aren't just coming back in town with their tails tucked. Gortat has been working on his conditioning, Lewis is getting stronger legs & better foot work and I hear/see that Ryan has lost A LOT of that baby fat that was slowing him down last yr. As a big fan of Chris Duhon I know he's in great conditioned shape to run that up style pace of basketball. The only two players that were conditioned to go deep in the playoffs last yr were Dwight & JJ and it showed A LOT in the Celtics series.
Great article. Thanks.