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On Monday in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers, head coach Stan Van Gundy was forced to use a second unit that consisted of Larry Hughes, Von Wafer, Quentin Richardson, Earl Clark, and Glen Davis. Van Gundy briefly utilized that 5-man unit in the fourth quarter as well.
If it hasn’t become clear by now why Dwight Howard wants out or why the Magic aren’t very good at the moment, witnessing Hughes, Wafer, Richardson, Clark, and Davis play on the court at the same time should put things into focus. Orlando is bad because there’s a lot of bad players on the roster right now.
The funny thing is that it wasn’t too long ago when the Magic were one of the deepest teams in the NBA, if not the deepest.
During the 2009-2010 season, Orlando trotted out — by all accounts when looking at the numbers — the best team in franchise history. Literally from top to bottom, the Magic had quality players at each position. The point guards were Jameer Nelson, Jason Williams, and Anthony Johnson. The wing players were Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick, and Mickael Pietrus. The bigs were Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Dwight Howard, and Marcin Gortat. For Van Gundy, this was Noah’s Ark on steroids — he didn’t have everything in twos, but in threes and fours.
And give general manager Otis Smith credit at the time. With a savvy trade and ownership’s blessing to spend, Orlando was setup nicely that year until they ran into the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Unfortunately for Smith, what he built he also destroyed (with some help from guity parties like the Celtics).
Out went Williams, Johnson, Carter, Barnes, Pietrus, Lewis, Bass, and Gortat. In came Chris Duhon, Hughes, Jason Richardson, Wafer, Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, Clark, and Davis. And let’s not forget the Gilbert Arenas experiment either.
In case you’re keeping score, this has what the Magic have become.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s not a new tradition, but some teams’ fans start games standing on their feet, only sitting after the home team scores. Now I realize Magic fans might risk suffering from corns and bunions by the time the cold-shooting Magic find the basket during this slump. But why not pump up the struggling Magic right out of the box Wednesday night against the Wizards? Give them a standing ovation at tip-off. Let loose. Occupy Amway Center. Go crazy. Treat it as a playoff game. The Magic are having troubling summoning energy, so provide some for them in this marathon schedule. Leave the wine bar and get to your seat before tip-off. Act like Duke fans, the Cameron Crazies. Yell, stomp your feet, applaud, razz the Wizards, impact the game. Bring back the wave.”
- General manager Otis Smith doesn’t plan on making any moves right now.
- Andrew Lynch of Hardwood Paroxysm: “Two things here, Orlando. First, the league was a lot more fun when it seemed like you were a good team capable of challenging the Heat and Bulls in the playoffs if everything went your way. I don’t want to overreact to a handful of games, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now, but knock it off. Immediately. Second, your little quarter-season swoon made it a lot harder to defend the Sixers as a legitimate team (whatever that phrase means; it’s the question people ask all the time). Getting a win against the Magic meant something two weeks ago. Now? Not so much.”
- Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “The Magic will never respond to Howard again, and that’s on him. They’re lost in a brutal five-out-of-six-games debacle, and Howard’s public proclamation calling out Magic teammates last week has compounded issues. Despite his inability to separate the get-me-out-of-town Dwight and the I’m-your-leader Dwight, the organization knows one thing for sure: They’re the same guy.”
- What should the Orlando Magic do with Dwight Howard?
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider proposes the Magic trade Howard to the New Jersey Nets: “Because of Kris Humphries’ involvement it couldn’t be consummated until March 1 and can’t be done on the Trade Machine, but the deal is Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon and Hedo Turkoglu to New Jersey for Brooks, Humphries, Brook Lopez and Mehmet Okur. The Nets could actually get a $3.1 million trade exception for Lopez as well, while the Magic would get one worth $3.2 million for Duhon. In addition, New Jersey can include four first-round picks: Its own picks in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and a pick owed to it by Houston from the Terrence Williams trade. It’s the best way to get Orlando out of its salary-cap mess and give it the pieces to rebuild, and obviously it puts New Jersey in great shape with a Howard-Williams core.”
- The losses are piling up for Orlando.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk tries to examine the Magic’s woes: “The bigger problem is leadership — someone needs to step up and hold people accountable in the locker room. But can Howard, with one foot out the door and flirting with other cities, really be that guy? Teammates seemed to have tuned his rants out. Someone else will need to fill that role. Don’t expect a sudden Dwight Howard trade move either. The scenarios are out there, but as we have been saying the feeling around the league is the Magic are not going to trade him this season, but if they do it will be after the All-Star break the last weekend of February.”
- Would the Chicago Bulls be wise in going all-in for Howard?
- A look back at Orlando’s loss against the Philadelphia 76ers.
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “As bad as it looks, I caution you to look at the calendar before you try to pinpoint what has sickened the Magic. Six games in eight nights is no time for a sweeping diagnosis, and it doesn’t get much better from here. On Wednesday, the good news is that the Magic get the Wizards at home. The bad news is, it’s the start of a stretch of five more games in eight nights. Onward they all go, in the dementia-inducing, post-lockout NBA. The only thing we know for sure is that more losses, whatever the culprit, will spawn more Dwight drama, more headlines and the kind of pressure that would splinter any locker room. Given the circumstances, the relentless schedule that is taxing everyone, this long free-agent good-bye has the potential to end even uglier than the last two we’ve endured.”
- The Magic are getting exponentially worse by the week.
- Apparently, Stephen Jackson may be the ticket for a team to trade for (and keep) Howard.
- A Fran Vazquez update.
- Derrick Rose is indifferent with Howard joining the Bulls.
- The trust between Howard and his teammates is gone for the Magic.
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “Here’s how bad the Magic’s offense has been: In four of those eight games, they scored at a per-possession rate lower than the Wizards, the league’s least efficient offensive team. (They managed this in one other game before this stretch — against Chicago on Jan. 6.) In two others of those eight games, they barely edged out Washington’s average scoring rate, according to Hoopdata. Six recent games, six performances on par with the very worst scoring team in the league. But some of those performances were really bad, beyond just Wizards bad. In four of those recent games, the Magic failed to crack 87.5 points per 100 possessions — a barrier that sits a full 12.5 points per 100 possession below the league’s average, and well below the Wizards. Those truly awful performances, including three that are just completely off the scoring map, are where Orlando’s season begins to separate itself from the run-of-the-mill struggles every good team goes through.”
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
AP Photo/Mike Carlson
I don’t need to tell you this, but in case you haven’t been paying attention, the Magic pretty much stink right now. Naturally this raises questions. How do you fix it? What’s the root of the problem? Whose fault is it? Where do we go from here?
How about this question.
What on earth is Stan Van Gundy going to do for the rest of this season? If this roster stays the same, Orlando will drop below .500 and not make the playoffs. Note it. It’s really that bad.
Why do I say so? Well, for one thing, last night Orlando was more successful with Von Wafer and Larry Hughes on the floor than any combination of their first seven guys. It’s a disaster. No one can hit shots, and I’m talking about the open shots as well as the contested ones. You’ve got Glen Davis fading away from 15 feet, guys trying to give Dwight the ball seven feet from the basket, everyone and their mother turning the ball over like they have absolutely no clue how to make a strong pass, and Stan Van Gundy about ready to pull out his hair and roll around on the court like a mad man.
To make matters worse, you can see it all over these guys’ faces. Turkoglu is the best example. He looks like he’d be happier hanging out with his family somewhere, eating duck, wearing Italian suits, and laughing about how fun yesteryear was. He has no interest whatsoever in being on a basketball court. I’m going to dare to say it — his time is up. It’s come and gone. I love the guy to death, but no type of shock therapy can revive him from his current state.
Speaking of guys who are probably done, Jameer can’t dribble, and when he tries to dribble, he falls. He also can’t shoot for some reason, so guys don’t really have to guard him at all when he’s in a pick-and-roll. I don’t know why, but you can probably stick a fork in him too. Von Wafer did a better job bringing the ball up the floor against the 76ers than Nelson has this season. So did Larry Hughes.
Ryan Anderson does things well, but not as consistently as anyone wants. He plays decent games and then bad games. Also, he outrebounds Dwight sometimes, which is a crying shame. How is that even possible? Besides, we can’t honestly expect any more than we’re getting from Anderson. He’s a role player and has had a hell of a start, but the law of averages is starting to kick in.
Jason Richardson is nonexistent, and the same goes for Quentin Richardson, I could go on. For now, though, I’m done trolling on individuals. That was just a rant to set up my thesis. Here we go.
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
There’s a lot of things going wrong for the Orlando Magic right now.
After starting the regular season with a record of 11-4, the Magic have lost five of their last six games with no end in sight. Orlando was in a similar funk last season, when they lost eight of nine games before general manager Otis Smith pulled the trigger and traded for Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu in two separate trades. This time around, it’s only a matter of time until Dwight Howard is the one involved in a trade.
My how things have changed so quickly.
Magic Basketball discuss the Magic’s recent free-fall.
The Magic have lost 5 of their last 6 games. What’s happened?
Nate Drexler: Guys like Anderson, Redick and Turkoglu got worse while J-Rich and Jameer didn’t get any better. It was only a matter of time before the hot shooting would end. Look, this team is uninspired, and struggles to just maintain possession much less get a good shot. Roster issues have all but suffocated this team to death.
Danny Nowell: When the Magic were winning, it was because everything that could go right was, and the odds weren’t good on everything continuing to click at once. WIth so thin a bench, and players as mercurial as Hedo leading the way, every player who was contributing had to play nearly flawlessly all the time.
Matt Scribbins: Orlando’s ridiculously poor play coincided with a stretch where they started to face better competition. Mix in incessant rumors about the best player on the team leaving town and you have a recipe for a disaster. In this case, the Magic followed the recipe exactly.
Jameer Nelson is having the worst season of his career. What’s happened?
Drexler: Jameer is a far cry from 2009. He is playing with no command, no spunk, no energy, and no confidence. He used to have this chip on his shoulder and would put himself in situations where he could absolutely kill you in the pick and roll. Now he has a hard time staying on his feet, much less throwing good passes.
Nowell: Loath as I am to do so, it’s hard to contribute Nelson’s play to anything but mental disarray. He’s shooting badly, yes, but also playing less aggressively, throwing flaccid passes and generally seeming done. In potentially related news, Dwight’s less-than-subtle public hints about his teammates’ talent are becoming more and more frequent.
Scribbins: I’m most interested in these three things: his turnover percentage is way up, his free-throw percentage is way down, and his rebounding percentage is way down. Those areas seem like they are tied closely to effort and focus. Has all of the attention on Dwight leaving town been too much for Jameer to handle?
Glen Davis is also having the worst season of his career. What’s happened?
Drexler: Down in Orlando he can’t get his game going in the post as Dwight is always going to be there, his game from 15-18 feet is not as good when it’s the only weapon he has, and frankly he seems a bit unhappy to have arrived on a roster where basically no one gives a flying fart what is happening.
Nowell: Davis’ skill set was never such that he was going to fit well in Orlando. The Celtics, with their diversity of skills and flexibility, could absorb Davis’ inefficiencies while benefitting from his defense. On the Magic, though, Davis’ mid-range inaccuracy and tendency to try and create himself shots aren’t masked by a broader fit within the team context.
Scribbins: Last year, Big Baby played significant minutes on a team with a handful of future Hall of Famers. This season, he is playing fewer minutes on a team whose lone future Hall of Famer is about to leave. Plus, there was a debate before the season about who should start between Davis and Anderson. Um, that debate is settled forever.
The Philadelphia 76ers were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 74-69. For the Magic, it’s their sixth loss in eight games. Slowly but surely, Orlando is sinking into an abyss of irrelevance with each loss. Andre Iguodala led the way for the Sixers, putting up 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and two steals, further exemplifying that he is one of the most underrated players in the NBA with his ability to be a playmaker on offense while also being an elite defender. Evan Turner had 12 points and four rebounds, while Thaddeus Young had 10 points, three rebounds, and two steals. Dwight Howard had a game to forget for the Magic, finishing with 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field (including 5-of-13 from the free-throw line), 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Ryan Anderson put together a sneaky double-double, finishing with 14 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. A decent chunk of Anderson’s numbers came in garbage time during the fourth quarter when the game was decided. Still, it’s rather telling that Anderson had as many offensive rebounds (11) as Howard had total rebounds in about 10 less minutes of playing time. J.J. Redick struggled mightily filling in for Jason Richardson at the starting shooting guard position, tallying 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting from the field alongside five rebounds.
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
6-17 FG | 5-13 FT | 2 BLK | 11 REB | 17 PTS | -14
Howard shot 6-of-17 from the field against Tony Battie and Elton Brand and went 5-of-13 from the free-throw line. That should not be happening. What else shouldn’t be happening? Howard getting blocked by Brand. That happened in the fourth quarter when Howard put up a weak attempt at a lefty hook, and Brand proceeded to block the shot with authority. Much to the delight of Sixers fans.
6-13 FG | 0-4 3P | 0 AST | 20 REB | 14 PTS | +5
Kudos to Anderson for playing hard until the end, even when the game was — more or less — decided long before the final buzzer sounded. Anderson couldn’t get his jumpshot going, so he attacked the rim to make up for it. That and he outrebounded Howard (20 to 11) despite the fact that the big fella played approximately 37 minutes. Anderson played roughly 27 minutes by comparison.
3-13 FG | 3-5 3P | 2 AST | 5 REB | 10 PTS | -13
Redick couldn’t get much of anything going on offense against the Philadelphia 76ers. It wasn’t like the Sixers bottled him up for the entire game either. Redick just missed a ton of easy shots, many of them coming in the painted area, that he normally makes. Redick’s funk against the Sixers was a microcosm of the Magic’s struggles as a team.
1-9 FG | 1-5 3P | 1 AST | 3 REB | 3 PTS | -10
For the first month of the regular season, Turkoglu was legitimately playing some brilliant basketball. He was “Mr. Fourth Quarter” and coming through for Orlando in crunch time with a fair amount of regularity. Now? Turkoglu looks as disengaged as he’s ever been in his career. It’s showing up in his shot selection (which has been horrendous lately) more than anything else.
Philadelphia didn’t play particularly well. The Magic were just that bad. Surely head coach Doug Collins will be pleased with the Sixers’ defensive performance, but they could have performed leaps and bounds better on offense. Perhaps the player of the game for Philadelphia was Andre Iguodala. His strong third quarter (7 points and excellent defense) allowed the Sixers to take firm control of the game.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Something ails the Orlando Magic. Is it fatigue created by a brutal schedule? Or is something deeper at work? Whatever the case, the team looks awful right now. The Magic lost for the fourth time in five games Sunday, falling 106-85 on their home floor to the Indiana Pacers. Even Orlando’s normally placid fans rained boos down on the Magic during the final period, and the crowd had plenty of reasons to feel frustrated. The defense looked uninterested at times. The offense struggled to protect the ball. And, worst of all, the Pacers flat-out outhustled the Magic. [...] His team looks to be in freefall right now. In the last four losses, the Magic were clobbered by 31 points by the Boston Celtics, relinquished a 27-point lead to Boston, were routed by 26 by the hapless New Orleans Hornets and were annihilated by 21 by the Pacers. Tough to believe the Magic held an 11-4 record on Jan. 20.”
- For whatever reason, the Orlando Magic struggle to bring the ball up the court.
- Ryan Anderson agrees with Dwight Howard’s criticisms with regards to players for the Magic playing with a lack of effort when they’re on the floor.
- The Super Bowl is having an affect on Orlando’s ability to travel.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie has more on the Magic’s traveling snafu: “The compromise? The Magic will fly from Cincinnati on Sunday. Which sounds about right, until you consider the fact that the same sort of weather issues that would be preventing a flight from placid Florida on Sunday into potentially-snowy Indianapolis are still going to be in place flying from Cincinnati to Indianapolis. Perhaps worse, even. Planes have mechanical hiccups in Orlando just as often as they do in Cincinnati, but it snows way, way more in Cincinnati than it does in Orlando.”
- Orlando is about ready to implode.
- Howard is open to playing for the Chicago Bulls.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “Yes, we’re evaluating the team after a particularly ugly five-game stretch, and I suspect this is about as badly as the Magic can play. But that doesn’t raise the water level enough to wash away the inescapable conclusion: These Magic, even with Howard, aren’t good enough to contend for anything important. And if that’s the case, it follows that Orlando’s hopes of persuading Howard to stay by fielding a contending team around him are similarly kaput. This has been suspected for some time, of course, but the optimism spawned by those first 15 games left openings for doubt. The last five games have crushed those hopes like a grape, with Howard’s comments questioning his teammates’ effort after the New Orleans debacle providing the hammer.”
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Wasn’t it just one Monday ago that the Magic were actually feeling sneaky good about their chances of making one last run in an East with D-Rose ailing and only six teams above .500? Must feel like a year ago after what SVG aptly described as Orlando’s worst week since he started coaching there in 2007.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “As we have talked about before, Howard is stealing a page from the Carmelo Anthony/LeBron James “force a trade out of town playbook.” Part of that is saying you are open to playing anywhere for any team, just being vague and saying that your agent or God or someone else is in charge but not you. Which is a load of crap. If Howard wanted to force his way to Chicago he could (or at least could try), but that city was not on the list presented to the Magic. (Those teams were the Lakers, Mavericks, Nets and later the Clippers were added.)”
- The Magic are freefalling.
- Matt Moore of CBSSports.com thinks Howard is smart to consider the Bulls as his new team: “But Howard would be wise to consider Chicago — both for himself and the franchise he’s likely dumping. A trade with the Bulls would be easiest to facilitate because they have quality veteran players to package in exchange for Howard, which the Magic are said to covet. With a full stock of draft picks, young players and sub-stars like Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the Bulls could take on Howard’s salary and one of the Magic’s overpaid contracts. For Chicago, putting Howard next to Rose would be phenomenal — and giving Tom Thibodeau the best defensive player in the league could create the best defense in league history, depending on whether Luol Deng were sent away in such a trade.”
- Orlando is stirring up plenty of drama that’s worthy of reality television.
- A list of teams that Howard would be willing to play for.
- Could Chris Kaman be a player the Magic could trade for to serve as a back-up center?
- Orlando isn’t very good right now and that’s not Howard’s fault.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
The New Orleans Hornets were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 93-67. The Magic, coming off a devastating loss against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, seemed prime for a bounce-back win against the Hornets, one of the worst teams in the NBA. Instead, Orlando played one of their worse games of the regular season and were blown out by New Orleans, a team that’s missing their best player in Eric Gordon (injured right knee). The Hornets played with a lot of energy and effort, while the Magic did not. New Orleans was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Carl Landry led the way for the Hornets, putting up 17 points and six rebounds. Marco Belinelli had 15 points, while Jason Smith had 14 points and four rebounds. Jarrett Jack finished with 11 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and two steals. For Orlando, it was a lot of Dwight Howard and little else, as he put up a game-high 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field (10-of-17 from the free-throw line), 16 rebounds, three assists, and two steals. No one else for the Magic made any discernible impact on the court aside from Howard. As such, New Orleans took advantage of the situation and got a victory.