MBN Roundtable Discussion: The past, present, and future of the Orlando Magic | Magic Basketball

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May 12

3-on-3 roundtable: The past, present, and future of the Orlando Magic

Photo by Handout/Getty Images

It’s May and the Orlando Magic aren’t playing basketball right now.

Weird.

The last time the Magic weren’t playing basketball in May was in 2007 when they were swept by the Detroit Pistons in the first round, which was Brian Hill’s final year as the head coach. Once head coach Stan Van Gundy arrived, Orlando became accustomed to continuing their season beyond April to the months of May and June but not this time around.

Instead, the Magic are spectators and sitting at home after losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

As such, it seems appropriate to look back at what happened in the postseason for Orlando and chime in on Dwight Howard‘s future with the franchise. So without further ado, welcome to Magic Basketball’s first in-house roundtable discussion.

Credit goes to Matt Scribbins for the questions.

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If ifs and buts were candy and Zaza head-butts, the Magic would still be in the playoffs. What is your #1 if?

Nate Drexler: It would have been nice to see a healthy Magic team in the playoffs. If Gilbert Arenas was at 100 percent for the second half of the season, for instance, things would have played out differently. I only say it because Hibachi is a tremendous player, and the reason so many people are frustrated with his huge contract and poor play is they know what a huge impact he can have on a team.  As for this season, he was dead wood. That is why my biggest “if” is having Gilbert mentally and physically peaked for the playoffs.

Danny Nowell: The biggest if, for me, is what if Hedo Turkoglu had been the same Hedo Turkoglu that propelled the 2009 run. I know, I know, it’s easy to make him a scapegoat—and it’s not like he’s getting younger, so maybe his decline is strictly about aging—but what else would the Magic have realistically been able to get that they needed? Jameer [Nelson] showed up in spurts, Dwight had an historically good series; I think the key could have been a big ball handler that was aggressive when he needed to be and a creator when he didn’t. Hedo’s play was almost the direct inverse of that.

Matt Scribbins: The Magic would still be in the playoffs if they had a legitimate option on offense besides Dwight Howard. With help from the Basketball Reference database, I learned only seven players since 1947 have made 20 or fewer shots while attempting 68+ in the playoffs. Hedo Turkoglu did just that this post-season and bricked his way into the record books.  Hedo, one of the worst shooters in NBA playoff history, actually out did himself and provided his worst playoff shooting performance ever.

What is Orlando’s #1 goal during off-season (excluding locking up Dwight Howard)?

Drexler: Find someone who is a beast on the perimeter. You have to start thinking “big three,” in a sense. The answer is not in acquiring a flashy point guard, and the Magic already have a solid point guard in Nelson. Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas, and Vince Carter were theoretically moves in the right direction, but it is time to grab a real scoring option in the shooting guard or small forward position. “Weed out and rebuild” should be the motto for the offseason. Otis Smith needs to try and dump Arenas, Turkoglu, [Jason] Richardson, as he deals with Dwight’s departure and establish an entirely new program. That might even include parting ways with SVG and his Dwight-centered offense.

Nowell: I think the Magic have to find a way to get back to their earlier identity, spacing the floor and surrounding Dwight with shooters. I think the key might be involving Ryan Anderson more. That dude can really ball, and he provides the team with a stretch guy with a fairly high IQ who has shown flashes of excellence. Also, I think I may try and convince Gilbert Arenas that NBA players who move to Turkey receive massive, impossible to turn down tax incentives.

Scribbins: They have to get some value from Gilbert Arenas. Hopefully, he will be healthy enough to produce at a high level on the court. He has literally never played worse during his NBA career than he did last season in Orlando. I image he will only be better next year, so that is a plus. If the team can’t look at Agent Zero anymore, they should ship his monstrosity of a contract somewhere and start to reassemble a contending team.

What are the odds (%) Dwight stays in Orlando, and why?

Drexler: Zero percent. Dwight is gone, and I would be surprised if he has not already purchased some real estate in either Los Angeles or Chicago. Dwight, like many of the other superstars in the league, is a winner, and when you do not win, you leave. The first round exit has to be the straw that broke the camels back for Dwight, and I cannot see anything that anyone could wave in front of his face to tempt him to stay. Dwight loves Orlando, yes. He loves the people, and is a loyal guy, but when push comes to shove, why would any player (much less the most valuable player) want to put up with streaky shooting, Gilbert Arenas-esque trades, and early playoff exits any longer than he has to?

Nowell: I’m not inclined to believe Dwight stays in Orlando barring a major change—like GM. I can’t imagine being Dwight Howard and thinking the team has done a good job of giving me players to compete with. In a way, what the Magic have done with Dwight is a little worse than what happened with LeBron; the Magic had their system, based on floor-spacing and Dwight’s unique defensive capabilities, and they gutted that system. However, I have no idea what Dwight will actually do. I’m naïve enough, I suppose, to believe he is earnest when he talks about his affection for the Magic, but this is a matter of human will. I also have no idea if the Magic find some miraculous way to acquire another A-lister, but I suppose it’s always possible. So, because I refuse to make definite statements about where a 25-year old wants to work, I will say fifty percent.

Scribbins: One percent. It’s not looking good. The Lakers playoff performance, and reported bizarre off-court issues, might make the Lakers even more gung ho about bringing in Dwight. Let’s hope Chris Paul’s wife seeks a job at Disney World and forces a trade to Orlando a la LaLa’s New York City wish for Carmelo Anthony.

15 comments
Liquid77snake
Liquid77snake

I didn't mean to imply that the Magic's offensive problems during those playoffs were entirely Turk's fault, but having a person like Turk doing a significant portion of the ball handling and taking bad shots constantly significantly contributes to offensive struggles. As to the Celtic's series and Pierce's struggles, I believe that had more to do with the fact that Garnett did not play and that Pierce was essentially the Celtics only driving option rather than Turks defensive prowess since he is apparently unable to step to the left or right. Turk hit some big shots from time to time but his averages in that playoff run, despite being guarded by the likes of Delonte West, who is a good 6 inches shorter than him, show that he was not playing as well as his hero moments might lead us to believe. Sadly letting him walk was probably the best move Otis ever made so it was only natural that Otis wouldn't let that stand...

marioraul
marioraul

J-Rich is more of a SF than Lewis ever was a PF or crazier still, a starting PF. Although to be fair the inadequacy was compounded by turning him into a lazy player camping out on the 3-point line waiting for the ball to go around and get to him. It might have worked a slight bit better if the Magic ran a normal offense, ocasionally against one or two teams.

J-Rich is much better in a faster, less predictable offense with more fast breaks. As it has been obvious under the current coach, the Magic they Magic are unable to run/finish fast breaks. More often than not they turn into anti-climatic half court sets.

The first step to keep Howard here is bringing a coach with a positive and proven winning attitude. A coach with former NBA experience for a change. That should be a priority, once the Magic take this basic step, players would have more incentive to play for a winner and might even take a paycut to join Howard.

Xmarioraulx
Xmarioraulx

We don't get a coach who is a proven winner = Dwight leaves.

Simple as that. SVG's offense is guaranteed to fail in the playoffs. Despite Howard the Magic are perceived as weak and easy to beat. If I'm the coach for an opposite team all I have to tell my guys is guard the 3point line, doesn't matter if Dwight gets 50. Not too difficult, underdog Atlanta did it in the first round. It's almost like the Magic with their "soft" attack, make other teams look better.

Liquid77snake
Liquid77snake

I'll admit that Turk hit some big shots during that playoff run, but those shots were more than counterbalanced by his generally lousy shot selection and shooting, which caused us to get in a hole/blow leads as well as his horrible defense.

Concorde102
Concorde102

Funny how none of these "basketball experts" fail to mention Stan Van Gundy's complete ineptitude. This guy shouldn't even be coaching in the NBA to begin with. They blame Arenas, Vince Carter (no longer here), the weather, the Magic mascot.

IF Dwight leaves, is simply because he sees the Magic have no intention of replacing Stan. Magic ownership in Mickey Mouse fashion hired this bum, simply because of the fact he came begging for the job saying he also had an interview with lottery-bound Sacramento... how impressive. (who else was interested in him? Answer: nobody).

Carlisle was avaiable, Adelman was available. Did the Magic owners even interview them? The answer is an incomprehensible: NO.

Since then the Magic have wasted the deepest team they've assembled and lost (in pathetic fashion) to Lakers and then Boston.

Van Gundy begged for shoot-first players, so a (mediocre) trade was made to acomodate his guaranteed-to-fail-in-playoffs 3-point happy style. And so it did once again. Thank you Vanderweide for not having a clue and hiring this stubborn moron with no qualifications. But what can you expect from the 'genius' who hired Brian Hill a SECOND TIME??

Kfugrip
Kfugrip

Rather than hypothesize the Magic acquiring players through trade, which usually involves an unlikely scenarios anyway,  I would like to mention what I think could happen and how it could take this team back into contention.  The first thing is THE SYSTEM.  Most players thrive or at least improve in season two of the SVG system.  Would the mid-season trade players (Richardson, Arenas, Clark, Turk) count as season two'ers?  I think so.  A full training camp (supposing no lockout) and preseason will help erase the defensive mistakes and deepen chemistry. 
In all likelihood Richardson can't be resigned.  So, I think signing a bigger wing who focuses on defense with the MLE (if it still exists) would be the right direction.  The problem against ATL was size in the back court and it would be the problem against a bunch of teams (Miami for one).  Getting someone who can play defense and match up with bigger 2s alongside Turk would be key to getting back into contention.  Hopefully the player would have a higher basketball IQ than Pietrus, but that may be asking too much.  I haven't looked at the potential free agents but someone like Corey Brewer would work in tandem with JJ Redick as an offense/defense back court mate to Jameer. 
Other moves: resign Clark.  His potential, especially defensively, and his ability to play and defend the 3 and 4 is smart for a low price.  Remember his game again Durant?  He is another guy who could benefit from a second year in the system.
Dwight's mythic back up problem?  I think that getting someone who can actually block a shot would be great.  Hopefully Orton is that guy.  Playing 10-12 minutes as Dwight's back up in a second unit that needs the defensive presence would be great.  Can Vasquez come over?  I won't believe the rumors because I've been burned, but he is an athletic big who can block shots and rebound.  I think a combination of Orton and Vasquez (or someone) will work fine.
The best way to convince Dwight to resign is to come out like gang busters and hold 1st place in the league for until the trading deadline.  I think the tipping point is an improved year by Arenas.  Get him back into better-than-replacement-level, with the things mentioned above, and the Magic go back into contention.

Zach
Zach

Who's going to offer J-Rich money after how crazily inconsistent he was last year? I personally don't want J-Rich back, but if he does come back I hope it's at small forward. I don't have any statistics but to me it looked like J-Rich was able to stay in front of 3's a lot better than 2's. 2's were blowing right by him all season.

Zach
Zach

I respect what Turk did in 09 he was ultra clutch but he was ridiculously bad against the Lakers..... Ariza completely shut him down. I think letting Turk walk was absolutely the right move. Re-acquiring him killed the only correct move Otis ever made.

Dehalvatzis
Dehalvatzis

 Call me crazy, but so is Otis, here is what is the most realistic trade to happen for at least this summer:OJ Mayo either in a sign and trade with J Rich, or trade Redick straight up (their contracts almost mirror each other). Yes it sounds crazy because of his issues, but he has tremendous potential. Lets face it, the guy did not want to be part of Memphis this year, so therefore he had a down year. But he was avg 18 a game before this year. His shots and minutes went way down because of his suspension and Tony Allen’s so called defense that he thinks is better than Dwights. If you trade JJ, you can re sign J rich to mid level exception and move him to the 3. He's is tall enough (6'6) and capable to play that position. J Rich cant run with the best of them at the 2, but he is athletic enough to guard the 3. Turk is now on the bench where he belongs. Bass/Anderson will be at the 4 depending on matchups.This is the most realistic scenario for any trade to happen. Getting Chris Paul in a trade is EXTREMELY difficult. This is a risk, but Otis is big on risks (i.e. VC, Gil, Turk trades). Here is what would be the potential lineups:Jameer/Gil/DuhonOJ/QJ Rich/TurkBass/AndersonHoward/Earl Clark or minimum vet player

Wundervogel
Wundervogel

Newsflash to MBN writers, Turkoglu may have played well his last season with the Magic before he signed with Toronto, but he was NOT the reason the Magic got to the Finals.  I get sick of hearing this from everyone.  The true reason: We had a lengthy defender on the perimeter, and... wait for it... Rashard Lewis.  I will never say Pietrus is the best defender, but the series with the Hawks would have been different if we still had him.  He was undervalued. Rashard really did have an All-Star year.  He led the league in three point attempts and nobody could match up with him.  Sadly, Rashard was on the decline.  He is the one that made this whole thing work.

Unfortunately, we are going to only have Dwight Howard for another 40-50 games.  The lockout is going to ruin our last season with him.  Every time I think about this I just can't stop thinking about how screwed we are.  Unless, Arenas somehow heals up and turns back into an All-Star.  What a freaking mess... 

Zach
Zach

Call me an optimist but I believe Arenas will play a lot better next year. You have to go all in this year, so unless you get some kind of offer for Arenas then you start him and trade Jameer. I don't believe that Hedo is untradeable, I could see a team like Milwaukee trading somebody like Corey Maggette for Hedo. Magette could be the 6th man that does something Orlando hasn't had in the Dwight Howard era and get to the free throw line. If i'm Orlando i see if I can get anything for Jason Richardson do it, Bass, Jameer, JJ and Anderson are pretty much all of Orlando's trade assets. If you can unload Q or Duhon for shorter contracts even if it's at less value you do it. (Is there anything less than Duhon?). Either stick with the stretch offense (Anderson) or trade him for somebody like Jason Thompson. It makes Orlando a lot more athletic up front and versatile regarding a backup for Dwight. Then make sure whatever you do, you trade for wing players that can play defense. Between a hypothetical 70% Arenas/Howard/Maggette/Thompson scoring should be alright, re-acquiring Courtnee Lee? Being able to get Luc-Richard in Maggette trade? Orlando's situation isn't unbearable yet, however I may be an optimist.

Dannyiglesias
Dannyiglesias

I think that the Magic need to take their chances and go after a 2nd A-lister, or maybe even a B-lister with A-lister potential. I think a guy like Idguodala would be a good fit, and he is a great perimeter defender which is something that we need A TON of. Personally I think (call me crazy) right now Dwight has been advised to not even think about next year until the new CBA is releases. If some of the ideas of a modified "franchise" tag materialize it could sway that change to 75-85% that he stays.
Regardless I don’t think he goes to the Lakers because I just don’t see enough value in Gasol and Bynum. Before the playoffs I would have thought they had some value. After… not so much, and they both make way too much money.
I think the question right now should be what are the chances that the Magic acquire a 2nd star, and the answer to the Dwight question will directly correlate to the answer to that question.

Christian
Christian

I want Dwight to stay but if he decides to leave then I'd rather have Brook Lopez over Andrew Bynum just because I want him and Ryan to restart their web show.

Dehalvatzis
Dehalvatzis

Ok that last part didnt turn out good. This is what i meant to say: PG Jameer/Gil/Duhon; SG OJ/Q; SF: J Rich/Turk; PF: Bass/Anderson; C: Howard/Clark or minimum vet 

Eliot Harrison
Eliot Harrison

Hahahaha, that and I don't think there's any other player in the league who would want to play for Orlando for the rest of his year as bad as Brook (except maybe his brother). Wonder if he'd move into the Princess Castle...