The [Orlando] Magic and Wizards are discussing a blockbuster trade that would send Gilbert Arenas to Orlando, a person with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday.
The person characterized the talks as “serious,” with definite interest on both sides to make the deal happen.
CBSSports.com reported in October that Orlando and Washington discussed an Arenas trade over the summer, but at the time, it was scuttled by financial concerns on the Magic’s part. Orlando has a league-high $94 million payroll, and Arenas — owned $62 million over the next three seasons — is coming off two injury-plagued seasons and a 50-game suspension for bringing firearms to the Wizards’ locker room last season. As previously noted, Magic GM Otis Smith has a strong relationship with Arenas and has always been the most likely executive in the league to take another chance on him.
With news spreading like wild fire that the addition of Gilbert Arenas to the Orlando Magic is imminent, what does it all mean?
It could very well signal the end of an era for the Magic.
For two seasons, Orlando played the role of an elite team and title contender. Yes, the Magic were a disappointment in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics but it doesn’t change the fact that they were two games away from returning to the NBA Finals a year after making an appearance in 2009 when they faced off versus the Los Angeles Lakers. Orlando had their flaws but it took a specific set of circumstances for them to be exploited, and even then they almost overcame those scenarios.
Unfortunately for the Magic, their rivals in the Eastern Conference — the Miami Heat and Celtics — have improved while they’ve regressed. Head coach Stan Van Gundy has harped on the defense taking a nosedive during Orlando’s road trip to the West Coast recently, but the offense has been struggling. Roughly one-third of the regular season has been completed, yet the Magic rank 14th in offensive efficiency. As such, Orlando’s efficiency differential is +5.8, which is good but not as great as other teams in the NBA.
Hence the Arenas rumors.
The line of thinking for the Magic is that they have to find someone, anyone, that can jumpstart an offense that’s become stagnant. For all the talk about Dwight Howard‘s growth offensively, he’s not getting enough support on the perimeter and it’s forcing general manager Otis Smith to make a change and fix the problem. No, Arenas may not be the best solution for Smith but it’s becoming increasingly clear that he has no choice. Acquiring Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul aren’t realistic options, which makes Arenas one of the few choices out there.
Is Arenas enough to make a difference for Orlando?
The numbers say probably not but again, the Magic have put themselves in a situation where they have to gamble and go all-in.
If this is the best hand that Smith can muster up, so be it.
It just might mean championship aspirations become nothing more than a pipedream.