Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 120

Dec 11

Magic re-sign Jason Richardson

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Free agent Jason Richardson has agreed to a four-year, $25 million contract to stay with the Orlando Magic, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Richardson, one of the top swingmen on the market, had wanted to remain with the Magic. Several teams had shown Richardson, who has averaged 18 points a game in his 10-year career.

The Magic were hoping that the re-signing of Richardson could help convince Dwight Howard to remain with Orlando. Howard has asked the Magic to trade him to the New Jersey Nets, Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday. Howard can become a free agent July 1.

The Orlando Magic’s decision to re-sign Jason Richardson is a curious one. It’s true that the Magic needed to address the starting shooting guard position. Richardson was a free agent and even though J.J. Redick is more than capable of sliding in and becoming a starter, for what Orlando needs at shooting guard, he’s likely better off remaining a reserve.

And here’s the thing. What the Magic need is a dynamic perimeter scorer that can create his own shot. Richardson doesn’t do that.

After playing on a faster-paced team like the Phoenix Suns and having the luxury of Steve Nash helping to create open looks for him, Richardson’s numbers dropped dramatically once he stepped on the floor in an Orlando uniform after getting traded to the team midseason. Sad to say but Jameer Nelson isn’t Nash when it comes to passing the basketball and with everything revolving around Howard on offense, Richardson’s impact with the Magic was minimal. That’s largely because Richardson can’t create his own shot enough. Sure, Richardson is more than capable of spotting up from the perimeter or coming around screens and looking to score that way. But Richardson doesn’t do enough damage in isolation sets or pick-and-rolls. It’s not in Richardson’s skill-set.

Via Synergy Sports Technology:

2010-2011 regular season (ORL) Time Poss. PPP Rank
OVERALL OFFENSE 100% 823 0.99 95
Spot-Up 31.3% 258 1.06 93
Off Screen 14.6% 120 0.94 46
P&R Ball Handler 8.5% 70 0.83 69
Isolation 5.3% 44 0.61 236

Did I mention that Richardson isn’t a good defender?

So if Richardson can’t fill a need for the Magic, why bring him back? If it’s for continuity’s sake, that’s not a good enough reason.

Oh, and why a four-year contract?

Surprisingly enough, general manager Otis Smith probably got fair value for Richardson. A four-year, $25 million contract for a starting two-guard like Richardson, someone that’s typically an average-to-above average player, isn’t a bad one. Perhaps the yearly salary is a smidgen high but not ridiculously so. The problem is that Richardson is about to turn 31, and the length of the contract is four years. Meaning that Richardson will still be getting paid like a starter in the NBA at 35 years old when it’s almost a guarantee he won’t be that good at the end of his contract. Wing players like Richardson that mostly rely on athleticism don’t age well, even if he is a capable shooter from the perimeter, and his defense is only going to get worse over time.

On top of the fact that contracts like the one Richardson received at his age, which is a little more than the mid-level exception, usually don’t pan out very well and you have another head-scratching move by Smith.

Dec 10

Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the Nets

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the New Jersey Nets, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.

Orlando GM Otis Smith has made it clear that he will trade Howard wherever the Magic get the best possible package, but the fact that Howard is willing to sign a five-year, $109 million extension with New Jersey makes it likely that the Nets can be the most aggressive in offering an attractive package

Smith confirmed that Howard has asked to be traded to the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday afternoon.

Los Angeles had long been a preferred choice of Howard’s, but sources say that several factors have pushed him toward the Nets over the Lakers. Howard has a strong relationship with Deron Williams, and has also resisted following the same career path as Shaquille O’Neal, who left the Magic for the Lakers two decades ago.

Magic fans feared this day would come. Well, it’s here.

There’s a lot of layers to unravel so here goes.

Just because Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the New Jersey Nets doesn’t mean that general manager Otis Smith has to send him there. Smith’s objective, right now, should still be to try to do everything humanly possible to improve the roster around Howard because he’s still under contract and a member of the Orlando Magic. That should be Smith’s first priority.

For those that don’t remember, during the offseason in 2007, Kobe Bryant got fed up with the Los Angeles Lakers after getting bounced in the first round against the Phoenix Suns that year and demanded a trade to the Chicago Bulls because his supporting cast consisted of Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, among other misfits. The following season, the Lakers held tight, traded for Pau Gasol at the trade deadline, and the threat of Bryant leaving the franchise was gone. Bryant finally got the supporting cast he wanted and as a result, Los Angeles made the NBA Finals in 2008, and won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

It would behoove Smith if he didn’t try to do the same thing as the Lakers did. Granted, acquiring Glen Davis in a sign-and-trade doesn’t exactly help matters. Neither does re-signing Jason Richardson. However, if it helps in the process of convincing Howard to remain with the Magic, than that’s a different story.

There’s also the issue of Orlando not having many assets to work with right now, which will make the process of trading for talent and improving the roster a difficult one.

If Smith has exhausted all of his options and is unable to surround Howard with the supporting cast he needs to win a championship with the Magic, then he has no other choice. Smith has to trade Howard. And again, just because Howard has requested a trade to the Nets doesn’t mean that Smith has to send him there. If Smith can exhibit patience, as Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri did while dealing with a similar scenario with Carmelo Anthony last season before eventually trading him to the New York Knicks, then Orlando stands a good chance of extracting as many assets as possible for their star player.

That being said, although time is running out on Smith, he still has time to fix this mess he’s created. But the clock is ticking for the Magic.

Dec 09

Dwight Howard’s agent in contact with Lakers, Nets, and Mavs

Via Ric Bucher of

Dan Fegan, the agent for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, dismissed reports his client had illegal contact with the New Jersey Nets, saying Howard had received permission to explore potential trades.

Magic general manager Otis Smith confirmed to ESPN The Magazine on Friday night that he granted permission to Fegan to speak to the Nets about a deal involving Howard, who has asked twice in the past week to be traded, according to sources.

Fegan read the following prepared statement over the phone to The Magazine: “I read reports today of a meeting between Dwight Howard, his representatives and the New Jersey Nets which claimed, according to the story’s anonymous sources, that such a meeting violated the NBA’s tampering policies. This story is clearly inaccurate with respect to tampering claims and other facts. Tampering doesn’t apply once a team grants permission for a player and/or his representatives to make contact with another team. The Magic have given us permission to have contact with several teams in order for Dwight to explore his options. I most definitely had contact with the teams I was granted permission to speak with. Since we had permission to have contact with several teams the report of possible tampering is undeniably false.”

Magic spokesman Joel Glass says the team has granted New Jersey, Dallas and the L.A. Lakers permission to talk to Fegan to discuss possible trades.

Dec 09

Reactions to the Brandon Bass-Glen Davis swap

Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Bass does struggle defensively, he’s the king of the turned head, and he’s a bit of a center/forward tweener despite his obvious power forward size. With that in place, though, Davis considerably struggled defensively and barely had small forward size while often working as Boston’s backup center. The Celtics weren’t going to miss his front-rimmed jumpers even before learning that they’d take on a player in Bass who is superior to Davis in every conceivable way. Rarely do minor deals come this one-sided.”
  • Ben Golliver of “Davis will likely head to Orlando and start at power forward, and will probably be paid more than Bass. And he’s not at all a better player. He’s not a better defender, not a better shooter and it’s up for debate if he’s a better rebounder. It’s kind of a minor deal that will be lost in the shuffle of all this madness, but it’s a curious one. The Celtics upgrade with a young player that likely just needs more opportunity, but the Magic have acquired an inconsistent tweener that is probably going to be paid too much.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “Although he’s a good team defender who willingly takes charges and can defend post players, I consider Davis one of the league’s most overrated players. Offensively, he’s really not very good — a pick-and-pop 4 who mostly shoots 2-point jumpers and mostly misses them. Davis’ true shooting percentages the past three years are 50.2, 50.0 and 49.9 — which is terrible for a power forward — and he scores and assists at a fairly low rate. So basically, the Celtics got a better player who makes less money while preserving all their cap flexibility, and the Magic get another iffy contract. About the only benefit to Orlando is that Davis is friends with Dwight Howard, but we saw how far that got the Hornets when they traded for Jarrett Jack.”
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “Davis brings better defense and a sounder post game to the Magic, who could use the latter both to relieve Dwight Howard and provide some interior punch when Howard sits. The Magic already have a power forward with range in Ryan Anderson, so Bass’ very good mid-range jumper wasn’t as much of a need here. Potentially a decent move for both clubs, though Davis needs to keep his head together to make the Magic’s investment worth it. He has been prone at times to poor shot selection and mental funks, and those things can’t happen in big moments anymore–not at this price.”
  • Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk: “With this deal, the Celtics have traded Davis for a more athletic, better-shooting equivalent on a more palatable contract. Bass isn’t quite as good defensively, but Boston nonetheless acquired a better player for less money, and found a better fit for their offense, to boot. Well played, Danny Ainge. But it’s hard to see exactly what the Magic stand to gain with Davis’ four-year, $26 million contract. When at the absolute peak of his game, Davis is an effective defender with decent interior skills and a solid mid-range jumper. But Davis didn’t reach that point very often last season, as the focus-related errors stacked up at an alarming rate. On the hardwood and off, Davis presented problems for the Celtics. He wasn’t the player they needed him to be, nor the one he could be. Investing four years in a player with that kind of history is an iffy decision, especially at the cost of a comparable player on a more reasonable deal.”

Dec 09

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic may file a formal complaint with the NBA that the New Jersey Nets — in their quest to entice Dwight Howard — violated the league’s tampering rules. ESPN, citing unnamed sources, is reporting that Howard met with Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets General Manager Billy King on Thursday night in Miami without the Magic’s knowledge or permission. Magic CEO Alex Martins said, and an NBA spokesman confirmed, that the Magic have not filed any complaints — at least not yet.”
  • More from Robbins: “Dwight Howard’s representatives have told the New Jersey Nets that they are his first choice and that he plans to ask the Orlando Magic for a trade, ESPN reported early Friday morning. [...] Howard can become a free agent after the 2011-12 season, and speculation has been rampant about his intentions. He has declined to discuss his long-term plans publicly in recent weeks, and it’s unknown what, exactly, he has told Magic officials, although he has been in contact with them in recent days. Magic officials have said they will do everything they can to keep him with the organization for the long-term. But Howard has grown increasingly concerned with the team’s direction since the team’s first-round playoff loss last spring, occasionally hinting that he wants more help on the roster.”
  • Dwight Howard showed up to training camp.
  • Brandon Bass’ agent, Tony Dutt, comments on his client being traded to the Boston Celtics for Glen Davis: “We’ve had two or three conversations this morning. He understands the business side of it. It’s tough because he really, really likes Orlando. It’s part of the business, unfortunately. I’m very close with [Boston's] Danny [Ainge]. At the end of the day, if Orlando doesn’t want him, he’s a valuable player. He’s a valuable asset to any team that he plays for. I don’t want to say I’m disappointed, but I’m disappointed on one side. I’m happy for Brandon that he’ll be in a position to play for a championship.”
  • Do the Orlando Magic call Howard’s bluff if he wants to be traded to the New Jersey Nets?
  • Andrew Bynum has higher upside than Brook Lopez according to Magic officials.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The NBA is certainly protecting its own interests by killing Chris Paul’s trade to the Lakers, but what about Orlando’s interests? Paul’s New Orleans Hornets, pro basketball orphans, are owned by the NBA. So how in the name of small markets and competitive balance can David Stern block Paul’s move and not Dwight Howard’s?”
  • Orlando CEO Alex Martins: “I’ll tell Dwight the same thing that I’ve said all week since we’ve been able to talk to him. That is that first and foremost we want him to resign here Martins. We’re going to continue to give him every resource and every asset that he needs and we need to be successful. We’ve proven we’ll do that over the last four years in particular. Our ownership has continued to invest in putting other players around him. The only thing that we haven’t been successful at is finishing that last step in winning the title.”
  • For head coach Stan Van Gundy, this season’s training camp will be an interesting one to say the least.
  • Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins have officially been signed to contracts, as well as free agents Larry Hughes and Gabe Pruitt.

  • Trade scenarios involving Howard.
  • More on the possibility that tampering charges will be filed against the Nets.
  • Brett Pollakoff of ProBasketballTalk on the impact of Gilbert Arenas being waived: “The ‘extra jolt in the free-agent market’ is the really interesting part of this, because these high-dollar players who are no longer worth those big contracts can still contribute something in most cases, and should have no problem signing somewhere for the veteran minimum salary since they’re still being paid on their old contract.”
  • David Aldridge of “Magic chief executive officer Alex Martins says that Orlando has not filed tampering charges against any other team for any illegal contact with star Dwight Howard. Martins says that the rules against tampering are clear and that if they had been violated in any way the team would pursue the abusers to the fullest extent of NBA rules. But as of Friday nothing has been filed with the league office. Howard has not publicly indicated that he wants to be dealt, and privately, the communications between Howard, his agent, Dan Fegan, and the Magic have produced mixed signals. At points, Howard indicates he might want to stay with the Magic, who have become a championship contender on his watch — only the Lakers and Celtics have won more regular season and playoff games over the last four years. But at other points, he indicates dissatisfaction with the makeup of the team. Orlando has had a contract extension on the table for Howard for some time, but he has — like other star players in recent years — not signed it.”
  • A timeline of today’s events with regards to Howard, tampering charges, and trade rumors.
  • Howard denies a meeting took place with the Nets.
  • Ben Golliver of “While Arenas represented the NBA’s worst contract, it’s possible that someone places a low-bill bid for his services in the blind amnesty waiver process. It’s also possible his many off-court red flags and controversial statements (including inappropriate Twitter posts) could lead teams to steer clear. Arenas, 29, will eventually catch on with someone, somewhere, but it remains an open question how many bridges he has left unburned.”
  • Additional thoughts on the possibility of Howard joining the Nets.
  • Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated: “A source close to the situation said early Friday that Orlando was also considering filing tampering charges against Houston, but that a Rockets claim will not be pursued due to lack of information.”
  • It’s been a busy day for Orlando.

Dec 09

Magic waive Gilbert Arenas


The Orlando Magic have waived guard Gilbert Arenas and designated him as the team’s amnesty player, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Otis Smith announced today.

UPDATE: This is what I wrote in Gilbert Arenas’ player evaluation in June:

The Arenas that the Magic got, for the most part, was an inefficient shooting, turnover-prone, sometimes-hobbled player. There were those that argued that Arenas needed a lot of minutes to be effective. Thing is, in 29 of Arenas’ 49 games with Orlando, he played more than 20 minutes a night. If anything, head coach Stan Van Gundy displayed an extreme amount of patience with Arenas, giving him a lot more rope that he probably deserved.

It’s true that Arenas’ freelancing ways didn’t mesh well in Van Gundy’s structured schemes offensively. But it’s also true that Arenas’ freelancing ways were precisely what the Magic were trying to inject into a lifeless offense.

It didn’t work.

Arenas was brought on to — in theory — provide a scoring punch on the perimeter. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Orlando Magic got a delusional player that thought he was still a superstar from 2006. The problem is that many of Arenas’ skills had left him long ago and he hasn’t come to grips with that yet.

Arenas was a spectacular failure with the Magic and even though they have to pay the remainder of his contract, this move creates a little payroll flexibility because it no longer counts against the team’s salary cap and luxury tax.

Dec 09

Magic trade Brandon Bass for Glen Davis

Via Marc J Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

Celtics trading F Glen Davis in sign and trade to Magic for F Brandon Bass, source tells [Yahoo! Sports].

UPDATE: At Bob Vander Weide’s press conference on Wednesday, in which he formally stepped down as CEO of the Orlando Magic, general manager Otis Smith was peppered with questions pertaining to Dwight Howard’s future with the franchise. This is what Smith said:

“We’re gonna continue to put the best team on the floor to win an NBA title. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to listen to everything Dwight has to say and placate to that. That doesn’t necessarily mean how our organization is ran. Our organization is ran… we want him here as long as we can have him here, and our organization is ran to win a title. We built a culture here for a reason.”

Here lies the problem. According to a report, Glen Davis is one of the players that Howard wanted the Magic to acquire. Howard and Davis have a friendship that dates back to their time in AAU. The issue is that, after Smith said that he wasn’t going to placate to Howard, he does just that.

Exacerbating the problem is that, on top of trying to appease Howard (which is the same cosmic mistake that the Cleveland Cavaliers made with LeBron James), Orlando — talent-wise — just got worse by trading away Bass and acquiring Davis in return.

For all of Bass’ shortcomings, which primarily was due to the fact that he wasn’t a great fit with the Magic in the first place because of his inability to spread the floor like Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson, he struggled with team concepts defensively even though he’s a good individual defender, and his skill-set was better suited as a top-flight reserve than as an average starter, it doesn’t change that he’s a good player with a fair contract ($4 million per year). Bass was one of the last good assets Orlando had left. And now it’s gone. Better yet, the Magic just improved the Boston Celtics’ roster — a team they’re directly competing with in the Eastern Conference.

Let’s address Davis.

Is Davis an NBA-caliber player? Yes. Is Davis a good player? No. Aside from being a decent defender (mostly because of his ability to draw charges, which is a redeeming defensive quality), Davis is extremely inefficient on offense, a below-average jumpshooter, and a below-average rebounder (for his position) that constantly has to battle with his weight. Cumulatively, Davis is a worse player than Bass and it’s not even close. Oh, and with a 4-year, $26 million contract, Davis is overpaid. As if Orlando doesn’t already have enough players being paid more than they’re worth.

How does Davis fit in with the Magic? Who knows.

What we do know is that Smith placated Howard, weakened Orlando as a team, wasted an asset, improved a conference rival, and gave away a good player on a fair contract for a bad one that’s overpaid.

Dec 09

Is Dwight Howard headed to New Jersey?

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Chris Broussard of

Dwight Howard will ask the Orlando Magic to trade him to the New Jersey Nets, and a deal could go down as soon as Friday, sources close to the situation said.

Howard’s representatives have already told the Nets that they are his preferred destination.

When Howard speaks to the Magic, he will tell them that he will not re-sign with the team after this season, sources said. There is also a chance that Howard will not attend the opening of training camp Friday, according to a source.

As reported last week, the Nets are ready to offer the Magic a package built around center Brook Lopez and two first-round draft picks, New Jersey’s own and one the Nets acquired from Houston in a previous trade, according to sources.

New Jersey is also willing to take back Hedo Turkoglu and the three years, $34 million remaining on his deal.

The appeal of the Nets for Howard is the chance to play with All-Star point guard Deron Williams and the Nets’ move into a new arena in Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season.

Dec 08

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “It appears that the NBA lockout has taken a toll on the Orlando Magic. The team has laid off 20 full-time staff members and determined that up to 12 other open positions will be eliminated, three league sources told the Orlando Sentinel. The moves impact most of the organization’s departments but not the basketball operations department. They were announced to the team’s remaining full-time staff of about 170 people on Tuesday. A Magic spokesman would not comment. A team policy prohibits employees from commenting about staffing matters. On Jan. 1, the Magic put a hiring freeze into effect because team officials anticipated that a labor dispute between league owners and players could lead to the cancellation of games. As a result of the hiring freeze, 12 positions that were open or became open stayed unfilled.
  • Larry Hughes — yes, that Larry Hugheshas been invited to the Orlando Magic’s training camp. No word if any other former members of the Golden State Warriors will be attending as well.
  • More from Robbins: “Howard’s long-term status will not be resolved in the next few days. It just won’t. But we may see some major clues as to the team’s long-range strategy. If the team wants to start creating cap space for the free-agent bonanza of the summer of 2012, it can do so by inking Jason Richardson to a free-agent deal and sending him to another team via a sign-and-trade. That would help the Magic create room under the cap if the Magic receive a contract that will expire after the 2011-12 season or an unguaranteed contract or picks.”
  • Dwight Howard’s birthday wish list.

Dec 08

The nitty gritty on Dwight Howard’s future

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Via Bill Ingram of HOOPSWORLD:

The new CBA allows veteran players to extend their deal to a maximum of four years, meaning at no time can your extension push you past four guaranteed years. Dwight has two more years on his contract with the Magic, with an option coming this summer. As of today, Dwight can only sign a two-year extension with the Magic, as this season and next would count towards the four allowed. Next summer Dwight (and Chris Paul and Deron Williams) could opt out and sign a new contract for five years. BY waiting until July, Dwight can sign for two more years than he can sign for now.

So there will be no extension for Dwight.

Hence the reason that Deron Williams declared that he was opting out of his contract with the New Jersey Nets. From a financial point of view, it makes sense.

The same logical applies to Dwight Howard.

That said, the league’s best center by far still very much wants to be in Orlando, and he is willing to give them every opportunity to keep him. What that means to Dwight is that he wants the Magic to be contenders, and to that end Orlando has a short list of players they would like to add in an effort to return to contention. Atlanta’s Josh Smith, Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala and Golden State’s Monta Ellis are on that list.

None of this is groundbreaking news. Sure, Howard may want to stay with the Orlando Magic but will he? That’s yet to be determined.

And as for Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, and Monta Ellis, each of them would help the Magic, yes.

Smith is an All-Star caliber talent and although he’s mind-numbingly frustrating to watch on offense, combining his defensive abilities with Howard would make Orlando — already a top five unit on defense — even better on that end of the floor. Plus, it would push Brandon Bass back into a more suitable role coming off the bench. It’d be worth mentioning that the Magic would once again run into playing time issues at power forward (when Rashard Lewis was around) with Smith, Bass, and Ryan Anderson. However, to acquire a player of Smith’s caliber, Orlando would likely have to give up Anderson in a trade, rendering the point moot.

Iguodala is probably the most intriguing of the three players mentioned because even though he remains a fringe All-Star caliber player, at best, he’s an elite perimeter defender (only Tony Allen is better). Give head coach Stan Van Gundy a defensive pairing of Iguodala and Howard, and there’s a good chance that the Magic would have the best defense in the NBA. Iguodala is an inconsistent jumpshooter, doesn’t attack the rim as much as he should (which means he doesn’t get to the free-throw line as much as he should), but he’s an underrated playmaker and Orlando could always use another one of those.

If Iguodala is the most intriguing player, Ellis is the least intriguing player. Oh sure, Ellis can score a lot but he was aided by playing in a fast-paced offense (the Golden State Warriors were fifth in pace last season) and leading the league in minutes played. As John Hollinger pointed out in his player profiles at ESPN Insider, when looking at Ellis’ scoring on a per-minute, pace-adjusted basis, he ranked 17th in scoring rather than eighth if you were looking at points per game. And that’s not even mentioning that Ellis isn’t a very efficient offensive player either. Or that Ellis rarely tries on defense. Or that, to compound the problem defensively, Ellis is an undersized two-guard that can be exploited by the Joe Johnsons of the world. Ellis may seem like an intriguing player but Van Gundy would have his hands full trying to make him fit in well with the Magic. More so than Smith and Iguodala.

The question that should really be asked is whether or not Smith, Iguodala, or Ellis would be enough to help Orlando overtake the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference? Unless the Magic got more than one of them, the answer is likely no. Which would make it that much harder for Orlando to convince Howard to stay.

This isn’t meant to paint a bleak picture for Magic fans.

This is meant to grasp the reality of the situation.

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