Reaction roundup | Magic Basketball



Dec 20

Reaction roundup

Looking around the web for reaction to the Orlando Magic’s blockbuster trades.

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Actually, the beginning of the end for the [Orlando] Magic as we knew them, came on July 8. That was the night LeBron announced his Decision. That was the night [Otis] Smith knew his team clearly wasn’t good enough to reach the Finals again and, at some point, he needed to try somebody else’s players. That was the night the lights went out in Orlando. If the Celtics’ Big Three set up the Magic for the knockout, the Heat Threesome finished them off. And they still don’t have anybody who can guard James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the playoffs, although the trades gave Orlando more scoring and some tougher guys. Saturday it became official: LeBron stole the Magic’s future. You’re a mean one, LeGrinch.”
  • Today begins the process for the Orlando Magic to integrate Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu. Head coach Stan Van Gundy expects an adjustment period that’ll last a few weeks.
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel says that general manager Otis Smith is rolling the dice, with hopes that the Magic can win a championship and keep Dwight Howard around: “We don’t know if these trades will work or not, but what we do know is this: The Magic were not going to win anything by standing pat. This team is 16-10, has lost six of its last seven and is 3-6 against opponents with .500 records or better. It was becoming increasingly evident the Magic could not compete for a championship with a slumping Rashard Lewis and an aging Vince Carter in the lineup. In other words, Smith, even though he won’t say it publicly, is symbolically admitting that some of his past moves were mistakes. Two years ago, after the Magic made the NBA Finals with Turkoglu playing a key role, Smith let Turkoglu walk to bring in Carter. Now he is letting Carter walk to bring in Turkoglu. In addition, everybody knew Smith vastly overpaid when he signed Lewis to an exorbitant $118 million deal four years ago. Now Lewis is averaging just 12.2 points per game and has become an average player with a maximum contract. Smith had to do something to stop the bleeding, and so he rolled the dice. To get rid of Lewis’ bloated contract, Smith was forced to take on the bloated contract of Arenas, an immense talent with immense character issues. […Who knows whether these deals will work, but Magic fans had better hope so. Otis Smith’s job depends on it. More frighteningly, so does Dwight Howard’s future in Orlando.”
  • After a 16-9 start to the regular season before losing to the Philadelphia 76ers short-handed on Saturday, Smith and Van Gundy knew that changes had to be made.
  • A Q/A with Arenas.
  • Evan Dunlap shares a lengthy analysis on the Magic’s blockbuster trades. A choice excerpt: “If shot-creation is the Magic’s biggest offensive issue–and that’s a defensible position, I believe–then Arenas certainly fixes it; no one’s ever accused Arenas of lacking aggression. The issue is refining his ability to get shots off, eliminating the bad ones and maximizing the good ones. The fewer off-balance 20-footers he forces up, the better.”
  • Quentin Richardson knows a thing or two about trades.
  • LeBron James offers his take on Turkoglu’s return to the Magic.
  • Arenas’ legacy is on the line, according to Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk: “He’s gone from a team that fell under frustration due to his injuries, then turmoil due to his locker room behavior, to a contender. A team with an established hierarchy, a coach that drives the cart, and a real chance to make a run at the East. Well, okay, a slight chance to make a run at the East (the big bad wolf is still running the game). Arenas has a chance to change the narrative of his career from ‘the boy who cried ‘Hibachi’ and then faded into a trivia question’ to ‘the man who brought joy to the Amway Center.’ What happens next is up to him.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk gets straight to the point: “In the end there are two wild cards that will determine if the Magic are again contenders, if this trade works out for them. One is Turkoglu. He may well come off the bench with Brandon Bass starting next to Howard, but Hedo is going to get his chance. Except, he had chances in Toronto and Phoenix the last two years and blew those. […] The other wild card is Arenas. He has been injured and just did not look comfortable in Washington, on John Wall’s team. Maybe the new surroundings, a new team with something to really play for, rejuvenates him.”
  • Surprisingly enough, Orlando saves some money by acquiring Arenas, Richardson, and Turkoglu and offer themselves enough financial flexibility to keep tinkering the roster if need be.
  • John Hollinger of “As for Arenas, he’ll help the backcourt because he’s better than Chris Duhon and will have his moments as a sixth man, but let’s be realistic here. He isn’t better than Jameer Nelson or Richardson, he’s not anywhere near the player he was five years ago, and his laissez-faire attitude to defense is going to put him at odds with coach Stan Van Gundy. I have similar feeling about Turkoglu. While [Mickael] Pietrus has been awful this year and Turk is likely an improvement, we need to nip this revisionist history about his Orlando years in the bud: Turkoglu wasn’t particularly good in his last season in Orlando, save for a glorious Game 7 in Boston, and he’s unlikely to provide more than a small bench upgrade at a very expensive price. The Carter-Richardson swap at shooting guard looks even on paper, but Richardson’s catch-and-shoot 3-point game is tailor-made for Orlando’s system. He’s another player who doesn’t defend much, however, so Van Gundy will have his hands full getting his three new offensive-minded players to play his kind of defense.”
  • J.A. Adande of makes an interesting point: “Another subplot to Saturday’s moves is the way the Magic are now beholden to agent Dan Fegan. Fegan represents Howard and Richardson and has been advising his former client Arenas. Does Fegan want to continue to consolidate power in Orlando and do his best to help Howard succeed there? Or will he take his guys elsewhere, which happened when he had a glut of players in Golden State?”
  • How do the new-look Magic matchup with the Miami Heat?
  • It’s title or bust for Orlando. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports explains: “The message has been delivered to Magic management in a clear way. Want to keep the indestructible franchise star? Want the league’s best center to re-sign for the long run? As the Magic GM tore apart one of the best teams in the NBA, the words hung over his every machination. To keep Dwight Howard, the mandate’s unmistakable: nothing short of a championship.”
  • Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: “We don’t often see a contender attempt to overhaul its roster in midseason. For several years now the Magic have shown a willingness to spend big money in pursuit of a championship for owner Rich DeVos, who is benefiting from the new revenue streams created by this season’s opening of the 18,500-seat Amway Center in downtown Orlando. It was easy to forget about the Magic while the Lakers and Celtics were deepening their benches after Dwyane Wade had recruited LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami. But now Orlando has declared its intention to create a three-team race in the East. Let’s see if more reinforcements for the frontline are on the way.”
  • Ken Berger of “People with knowledge of Howard’s thinking said the superstar is on board with Orlando’s moves, with one saying he’s “a big fan” of the changes. But as he grew restless over the summer about the developments in South Florida, and as the Magic were exposed in recent weeks, Howard privately already was beginning to weigh his options. Like the list of stars he wanted to join him in Orlando, he was forming another list: potential suitors for him. Two teams were on it, according to sources: the Knicks and Lakers.
  • Imagine Dwight Howard bolting for the Los Angeles Lakers. Boy, that would be devastating.
  • Smith is a gambling man.
  • Arenas is “ecstatic” not only to join the Magic but to be the sixth man.
  • If it’s not clear by now, Orlando wants to win a championship — by any means necessary.
  • Who are the winners and losers in the trades made by the Magic, Phoenix Suns, and Washington Wizards?
  • New teammates, new team, new number, new city. Everything is new for Arenas.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas. There’s a lot of offense in that sentence, and the Magic need offense. But it hardly guarantees them championship contender status again. And it certainly shouldn’t have Dwight Howard counting the days until he can sign his next contract extension.”
  • Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm says that Van Gundy needs to let Orlando go. As in run: “They have to go full-tilt offensive firepower. Their greatest success was 2009, that has to be the model to some significant degree. Yes, Garnett was absent. No, he won’t be this time. But if you aren’t willing to accept that you’re screwed, which you can’t be, the answer is not to try and fight on their turf, it’s to fight on yours. Instead of trying to adapt for Garnett, you ignore the big husked screaming elephant in the room and you fire, and you fire, and you fire again. And if that’s your approach this is a pretty good deal.”

  • Smith earns kudos for shaking the roster up and improving the Magic’s talent pool, but will it be enough to come away with a championship? Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus says “it could go either way.”

  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference: “Based on the numbers, one has to conclude (sadly) that the Gilbert Arenas Orlando just acquired is not the same version we saw before his injuries and personal travails. He’s settling for too many jumpers, no longer drawing fouls, no longer avoiding turnovers, no longer scoring efficiently, and consequently he’s not having the same positive impact on his team. As one of my favorite players, I’m rooting for Agent Zero to buck these trends and rediscover his game in Florida — but as it stands now, I’m not sure he can make the kind of difference Orlando is counting on.”

  • No matter what, the Magic gave themselves a better chance at winning a title this year.

  • Scads of writers at wonder if Smith made one trade too many by acquiring Arenas.

  • Eric Freeman from ‘The Works’ at NBA FanHouse: “The Magic pretty much know what they’ll get from Richardson — Arenas is the wild card. In some opinions, that makes this deal a question mark for Orlando, but history suggests that this is the kind of moment in which he excels. Throughout his career, Arenas has been at his best when no one quite knows what to expect from him; he thrives on uncertainty. Now out of Washington and with diminished expecations, perhaps Gil will recapture some of the personality that has made him a must-watch for the past decade. He may not lead the Magic to any titles, but he could act as a trailblazer for a franchise in serious need of a new plan after this weekend’s upheaval. Arenas, for all his eccentricity, has proven several times before that he can be an effective guide in confusing times.”
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Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

I agree with Schmitz's point in the first article, and I kinda felt the same way when it went down. I tried to convince myself otherwise for months, but it felt like the Magic's title window was shut by the goon squad in Miami.

I don't understand any optimism about these trades either this year or in the next 3 years. To play a game of Oddsmakers... I give the chances of them actually making us a better team at 10%, a lateral move at 30%, and making us worse at 60%. We have no size.

Also, why doesn't anyone mention the fact that starting Bass at 4 is not working? Our interior defense sucks, our rebounding sucks, our spacing sucks, our rotations suck. Sorry for the lacking eloquence, but I hate watching such a dumb player. And he's going to be averaging over 30 minutes a game now for us. A guy who couldn't even crack the top 10 in the rotation last year.