Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 186

Dec 20

The “Great Magic Purge”

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

On Saturday, general manager Otis Smith executed his version of “Order 66.”

Dec 20

Get to know Gilbert Arenas

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On Saturday, the Orlando Magic acquired Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards for Rashard Lewis. For months, the Magic and Arenas were linked to each other in trade rumors for several reasons but the main reason was because of general manager Otis Smith‘s relationship with the former superstar that dates back to their days spent with the Golden State Warriors. Smith has known Arenas since he was 19. After all the drama that Arenas went through with ‘Gungate’ and being suspended by the NBA for the remainder of the 2009-2010 season after appearing in 32 games, coupled with the fact that he’s had three knee surgeries in the past several years, and has a max contract that lasts through 2014, it seemed like the artist formerly known as “Agent Zero” was damaged goods and would be stuck with the Wizards. However, once it became clear that Arenas was healthy entering a new year and Orlando’s need for a shot creator became known following the failings of Vince Carter in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the rumor mill began to churn slowly but surely in the offseason. And with each Magic loss, the chatter surrounding Arenas grew louder until it reached its breaking point during the weekend when Smith pulled the trigger and dealt for him.

Was the deal inevitable?

Who knows.

Orlando acquired Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu in a separate trade to address their need for shot creators and perimeter scoring. Arenas, of course, was traded for the same reasons.

What should Magic fans expect from Arenas?

It’s tough to figure out, honestly.

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Dec 20

Get to know Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

On Saturday, the Orlando Magic acquired Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson (as well as Earl Clark) from the Phoenix Suns for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a first round pick, and cash considerations. It’s ironic that Turkoglu and Carter switch teams. For those that don’t remember, general manager Otis Smith made the decision in the offseason, after the Magic lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals, to not re-sign Turkoglu and instead trade for Carter to replace him. At first, the swap seemed to pay off — Turkoglu struggled adjusting to a new environment with the Toronto Raptors and Carter, after a rocky start, settled into his role with Orlando and helped them return to the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. However, it was in the series against the Boston Celtics that Carter was exposed and cemented people’s opinion that he couldn’t cut it on the big stage. Carter, in large part, was traded to provide the Magic a go-to scorer in the playoffs but he was unable to do so, given that he’s not the same player that he once was in his prime. And even though Carter was having a very efficient season for Orlando this year, when push came to shove, he wasn’t able to get buckets at will. As such, perimeter scoring continued to be an achilles heel for the Magic and after a little over one season, Smith cut the cord on the Carter experiment and has brought Turkoglu back into the field.

Is this a mea culpa for Smith?

Maybe.

Before breaking down Turkoglu’s potential impact with Orlando, let’s talk about the player that stands out the most from the trade.

Jason Richardson.

Turkoglu’s return to the Magic will get a lot of attention from the mainstream media, which is understandable since he’s returning to a place where he gained the most prominence as a professional athlete.

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Dec 20

The Orlando Magic had a busy Saturday

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

As seen on TrueHoop.

Entering the season, some of the biggest question marks for the Orlando Magic were shot creation and perimeter scoring. After a 16-9 start to the year, in which the Magic’s offense ranked 14th in offensive efficiency, an inconvenient truth had been realized — Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis weren’t cutting it anymore.

Even though Carter was performing efficiently on offense for Orlando, when push comes to shove, he can’t score at will like LeBron James, Paul Pierce, and other scorers of that ilk. Carter isn’t the player he once was. As for Lewis, his numbers have fallen off a cliff this season and he looks like a shell of his former self on the offensive side of the ball. As such, there were many times when the Magic stagnated offensively and struggled to generate points on the perimeter. A tell-tale sign came during Orlando’s recent four-game losing streak when, for the first time under head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s tenure, the team didn’t score more than 85 points in three consecutive games. Coupled with the Magic playing with a lack of energy and effort on a consistent basis, and changes needed to be made.

Insert Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson into the equation. The expectation, when it comes down to it, is that Arenas, Turkoglu and Richardson address some glaring weaknesses for Orlando. The shot creation and perimeter scoring is there; now the Magic have to address their lack of frontcourt depth and size with the purge of Lewis and Marcin Gortat. Needless to say, it’s likely that Magic president Otis Smith isn’t done shaking up the roster. Will the changes be enough to overtake the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference? That remains to be seen. Van Gundy has a lot of work to do to assimilate Arenas, Turkoglu, and Richardson into Orlando’s schemes collectively. Then there’s the issue of figuring out whether or not the Magic sacrificed too much defense with these trades. The next couple of months should be real interesting.

Dec 19

Recap: Philadelphia 76ers 97, Orlando Magic 89

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic know a thing or two about playing shorthanded.

No stomach virus this time.

Instead, with the grand purge of Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Rashard Lewis, and Mickael Pietrus, as well as an injury to Jason Williams, the Philadelphia 76ers were able to beat the Magic — a team that was playing with seven players for half the game — by the score of 97-89. The Sixers were led by Elton Brand, who had 20 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks. Andre Iguodala finished with 21 points and seven assists, while Lou Williams contributed with 24 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Dwight Howard had his first 20-20 game of the season for Orlando, putting up 26 points, 20 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Jameer Nelson had 17 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, while Brandon Bass had 18 points and eight rebounds. It was an uneventful game, considering Magic fans are curious to see Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jason Richardson in action.

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Dec 18

Preview: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic

7:00 EST | Sun Sports
10-16 @ 16-9
Pythagorean Record: 14-12 Pythagorean Record: 16-9
Pace: 91.7 (18th) Pace: 91.1 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 104.9 (19th) Offensive Rating: 106.3 (14th)
Defensive Rating: 104.3 (11th) Defensive Rating: 101.7 (5th)
Amway Center | First meeting this season

Dec 18

Orlando Magic acquire Gilbert Arenas

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have acquired three-time NBA All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Rashard Lewis, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Otis Smith announced today.

“Gilbert (Arenas) is a proven All-Star in this league and we’re excited to add him to our team,” said Smith.  “He is one of the top scoring guards in the game, he can create scoring chances for his teammates and he is as tough as they come.  Rashard (Lewis) was important in helping our franchise get to the next level, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.”

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Dec 18

Orlando Magic acquire Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have acquired Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first round draft selection and cash considerations, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Otis Smith announced today.

“We’re very excited to welcome these three players to our family,” said Smith.  “Jason (Richardson) is a tremendous athlete who runs the floor, can shoot the ball and loves to compete.  We’re obviously familiar with Hedo (Turkoglu).  He is a great shooter and is a player that has flourished in our system.  We liked Earl (Clark) in the draft a few years ago, and he will help fortify our frontcourt.  Vince (Carter), Marcin (Gortat) and Mickael (Pietrus) did a lot for our organization and we wish them great success in the future.”

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Dec 18

Chatter surrounding Gilbert Arenas grows louder

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

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.

Now?

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.

Dec 18

Magic Basketball returns from hiatus again

Once again, sorry for the lack of activity. Last week, I wrapped up my graduate education at Northwestern University. This week, I’ve moved into a new apartment so I’m still in the process of settling into my new digs.

Everything around here should be returning to normal soon enough.

Thanks for your patience.

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