Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 198

Oct 01

Interview With Matt Guokas, Part II

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Here’s Part II of my interview (click here for Part I) with Matt Guokas, the television color analyst for the Orlando Magic. In this segment, Matt talks about the Magic’s quest for a championship this season and more.

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Do you think that Matt Barnes’ inability to hit threes at a proficient rate compared to his teammates was an achilles heel for the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics?

Yeah. One of the big problems, Eddy, was … the Magic were not really … the way the schedule broke, they did not get a lot of competitive games in the last 41 [regular season games]. Maybe four or five tough games. The teams were hurt or resting people when they played the good teams or they just weren’t playing competitive teams. And then even in the first two rounds, Charlotte and Atlanta just seemed totally unprepared. They did not put up any resistance whatsoever and I’m not saying that’s an excuse, but I think the Magic kind of got into a routine of saying ‘hey, this is pretty easy.’ And then by not winning one of those first two games in the Boston series, that’s what kind of cost them. That’s what hurt. Boston just brought it. They were riding the high. I think they were more surprise than anybody that they were able to get by Cleveland and they saw that fold in Game 5. They looked like the most shocked team in the world. They were like, ‘they’re just going to give this to us’ and Cleveland basically did, so now Boston was playing with a little bit of confidence. And then by winning the first two in Orlando, that obviously set the direction of the series but I would not point a finger at Matt Barnes for poor three-point shooting in the Boston series. I thought it was more about giving Boston more credit and the fact that the Magic weren’t as mentally ready as they normally would be had they been tested a little bit more

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Sep 30

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Actually, the Heat ought to be on the [Orlando] Magic‘s mind 24/7, sun up, sun down. They should embrace them. [Quentin] Richardson is not alone, as Magic players are already tired and/or agitated when asked about South Florida’s can’t-miss dream team. Agitated a month before the real season begins? See? That’s a good sign. They might get annoyed, but the Heat are the best thing that’s happened lately to the Magic — and the league. That’s right. The Heat’s presence should make the Magic and everyone else elevate their games. Want to make it four in a row as Southeast Division champs, Magic? Beat the Heat. Want to come out of the Eastern Conference? Beat the Heat. Want another shot at the Lakers? I repeat, beat the Heat.”
  • More from Schmitz: “There seemingly has been much hand-wringing during the Magic’s training camp over the whereabouts of Rashard Lewis. Will he really vacate his power-forward spot and switch to small forward, causing a seismic shift in the lineup? The short answer: no. The long answer: at times he will, when the Magic need more size at the 4 when they play the Celtics, who now have Shaq to go along with all their other big men, or the Lakers, who boast more 7-footers than Yao Ming’s family tree. [...] Van Gundy will start with Lewis at the 4, but insists he’s trying to assemble a Big Man Lineup out of [Ryan] Anderson, [Marcin] Gortat and [Brandon] Bass to play alongside Howard for stretches.”
  • Dwight Howard talks about his new album (and click here).
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy praises Mickael Pietrusperformance in training camp: “M.P, he’s been unbelievable. I’ve been happy with everybody, but he’s probably stood out more than anyone. He’s making unbelievable efforts defensively. He’s making more solid plays with the ball offensively. His energy has been good. He’s been unbelievable.”
  • With Jason Williams sidelined with an injury, maybe the Orlando Magic should pursue an old friend. Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post further explains: “For relative chump change, the Magic could sign a free-agent point guard strictly to serve as a body in training camp so [Chris] Duhon and [Jameer] Nelson can get some rest; as it is, the Magic are having Vince Carter and J.J. Redick slide down there from shooting guard. The fact that Anthony Johnson, who spent the last two seasons in Orlando, is still on the market may make this option especially attractive, as he would not need to be brought up to speed on the Magic’s system. In fact, no point guard played more minutes for the Magic in 2008/09 than Johnson did.”
  • Howard’s jersey is popular in Europe.
  • Jameer Nelson reminisces on his time playing alongside Chris Duhon on the U21 USA basketball team: “He beat me out for the job. But whenever I played against him in practice, I let him know I was there. And vice versa.”
  • NBA 2K11 has adjusted their player ratings. What do you think?
  • Sekou Smith of the Hang Time Blog chimes in on the “Van Gundy Rule.”
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie has more on the subject: “If you’ve ever watched an Orlando Magic game, then you know Stan Van Gundy is famous for three things — screaming, looking like various rotund Italian-American celebrities, and wearing mock turtlenecks underneath his sport coat. Apparently, this year, he’s going to be almost unrecognizable.”
  • Ditto with Royce Young of CBSSports.com: “In 2005, the NBA instituted a dress code for its players to go by and it caused quite a stir. Some called it racist, some called it stupid and some actually thought it was a good idea. In the end, the controversy dissolved and now everyone seems fine with players arriving wearing a nice pair of corduroy pleated slacks with a tasteful two-button mauve tweed jacket. (I have no idea anything in that last sentence actually is.) Now, the dress code has moved to include coaches. Some of the NBA’s top sideline wanderers had started taking advantage of the lax dress code rules, one being Stan Van Gundy and his mock turtlenecks. Well, the NBA has had enough of those. Now, coaches are required to wear collared shirts on the sidelines.”
  • Kyle Stack of SLAM ONLINE critiques the Magic’s new logo: “While the Magic aren’t completely eliminating their association with their roots — after all, Vega just made the point of keeping the stars that were their first identity — there’s a natural maturation which takes place. Vega likened it to that of a person. Now that the Magic are 21 years old, they’re making smarter decisions which comes from the experience and knowledge they’ve gained as an organization. First the first time in their history, the Magic are an annual threat to win a championship. They want to show fans their new look is emblematic of the focus they have on winning their first title.”
  • Chris Duhon is no longer in LeBron James’ shadow. Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse explains: “The LeBron James era never materialized in New York City, but point guard Chris Duhon still feels like he played right through a part of it. Duhon was the starting point guard for the Knicks the past two seasons, trying to lead a team whose only real goal was creating salary cap space to lure James in his celebrated summer of free agency. James never came, but his presence always was felt.”
  • Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD with an interesting report: “The company line in Orlando is that they made informal inquiries about both Chris Paul in July and Carmelo Anthony in August and those inquiries never included discussion of specific players and died quickly. Hornets’ sources confirmed Orlando’s pursuit of Chris Paul this summer as more than informal and more than a single inquiry, saying Orlando had reached out a number of times over the last year, but New Orleans just is not interested. Fast forward a month and the Magic made similar aggressive inquiries with Denver. [...] When you wonder why Orlando isn’t in the mix with Denver now, it’s mainly because they want Carmelo along with Chauncey Billups and not just Melo alone. Unless they could get both in a deal, they like the group they have in place now and wouldn’t break it up for Carmelo alone, unless they got him for a single player straight up, which isn’t going to happen.”

Sep 30

Amway Center: By the Numbers

Fernando Medina/NBA/Orlandomagic.com

Via the Orlando Magic:

270,181,975
Pounds of concrete used to build the Amway Center.

9,400,000
Pounds of total steel used to build the Amway Center, including six, 380-foot, 150-ton roof trusses which were locally fabricated just six miles from the arena site. The total length of all arena steel roof framing equals 55,287 feet or 10.5 miles.

9,000,000
Number of LED lights in the center-hung videoboard, the tallest and most high-definition in an NBA venue measuring in at 42 feet high and weighing in at 80,000 pounds.

875,000
Square footage of the new Amway Center – almost triple the size of the old 367,000 square foot arena.

800,000
Gallons of water saved annually in the environmentally-friendly building which employs a rain water collection system for irrigation and high-efficiency water flow fixtures in restrooms. Water consumption will be reduced by 40 percent over a comparably sized building.

750,000
Estimate dollars in annual energy savings because of the high efficiency “green” systems in place in the Amway Center. Overall the environmentally-friendly systems will cut energy consumption by 24 percent over a comparable, code compliant, designed building.

20,000
Maximum number of seats in the flexible Amway Center. Orlando Magic seating will be 18,500.

13,000
Number of light fixtures in the building.

10,000
Number of parking spaces within a 10-minute walk of the arena.

7,000
Number of Magic tickets priced $25 or less, including the first-time ever introduction of $5 tickets (while supplies last).

2250
Number of construction workers who built the Amway Center.

1,196
Number of plumbing devices in the building, including 563 toilets/urinals.

1,100
Number of high-definition video displays in the new Amway Center.

470
Combined number of devices used (240) to make the Amway Center wireless, and touch screen control-based units (230) for patrons to order food, beverages and merchandise.

340
Number of pieces of art work (140 original pieces and 200 museum quality photographs) in the Amway Center, as part of the public arts program for the building. Fourteen Central Florida artists contributed an estimated 110 pieces to the collection.

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Sep 30

Interview With Matt Guokas, Part I

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Fernando Medina/NBA/Orlandomagic.com

For Magic fans, Matt Guokas is a legend of sorts. Guokas will forever be linked with the beginning of the Orlando Magic, serving as the head coach of the 1989 expansion team that featured the likes of Terry Catledge, Jerry “Ice” Reynolds, Reggie Theus, among others, and remaining with the team until 1993 when Brian Hill replaced him after Shaquille O’Neal’s rookie year.

Fast forward to today, Guokas is the television color analyst for the Magic and will be teaming up with play-by-play announcer David Steele for their seventh year as a tandem. It should be noted that Guokas is a forward-thinking analyst, not afraid to cite metrics like team efficiency, pace, and whatever else. For team announcers, amidst the statistical revolution in the NBA, that’s still a rarity.

Did I mention that Guokas played with Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, and Hal Greer with the Philadelphia Sixers, winning a championship alongside them in 1967 against the then-San Francisco Warriors? Good times.

Needless to say, Guokas’ experience and knowledge of the league is impeccable.

Yesterday, I was able to speak with Guokas about a variety of topics, including his thoughts on the new-look Miami Heat, Dwight Howard‘s continued development as a player, and more.

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What’s your take on the Miami Heat now that they have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh?

Anytime you have three very, very talented guys like that, it’s going to be good.

They’re going to make some of the lesser players better, although there are big question marks with the other seven or eight guys that are going to have to do a lot of the playing. Most of them are veterans, have been around, and certainly can contribute like Mike Miller. Mario Chalmers has a few years under his belt.

They’ll be good. They’re still going to have … there’s going to be a lot of pressure obviously from being under the microscope. Any time there’s a game, there’s going to have to be all kinds of explanations as to how can a talented team do this and all that. I think they’ll be well-guided in terms of not paying so much attention to what it is they do record-wise in the regular season. They’re going to win a lot of games anyway. It’s just how they come together as a team and what their results are in the playoffs.

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Sep 29

Jason Williams to Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery on Left Knee

Fernando Medina/NBA/Orlandomagic.com

Via the Orlando Magic:

Orlando Magic guard Jason Williams will undergo arthroscopic surgery tomorrow on his left knee, General Manager Otis Smith announced. Williams is expected to miss approximately four weeks of action.

Williams (#44, 6’1”, 190, 11/18/75) played in all 82 games last season for the Magic, averaging 6.0 ppg., 3.6 apg. and 1.5 rpg. in 20.8 minpg., while shooting .380 (84-221) from three-point range. He started in 18 outings, averaging 8.6 ppg., 5.1 apg., 2.7 rpg. and 1.11 stlpg. in 29.6 minpg. during that span. Williams ranked seventh in the NBA in assists-to-turnover ratio (3.43, 298/87). He also appeared in all 14 playoff games, averaging 2.6 ppg. and 1.6 apg. in 13.7 minpg.

Originally selected in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft, Williams has played in 761 career NBA regular season games with Sacramento, Memphis, Miami and Orlando, averaging 10.8 ppg., 6.0 apg., 2.3 rpg. and 1.21 stlpg. in 30.1 minpg. He has also played in 67 career playoff contests, averaging 8.3 ppg., 3.3 apg. and 1.9 rpg. in 25.9 minpg. Williams was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1998-99, currently stands as Memphis’ all-time leader in assists (2,041) and helped Miami capture the 2005-06 NBA Championship.

Sep 29

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Turning 34 in January, [Vince Carter] needs to squeeze out one very good season. And the Magic desperately need him to, as well. That’s where they are in this madcap chase of the new Heat and the old Celtics. They still need Vince Carter, on given nights, to counter, say, scoring stars Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Paul Pierce. They probably don’t sweat the old man at all. After finishing a pedestrian season with a dreadful playoff series against Boston, Carter is said to have trained like an Olympian this summer. His body fat is down almost 4 percent. He’s stronger. He has a better grasp of the offense and his duties. Did we mention he has a contract situation? [...] Once again, it’s not only [Stan] Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith telling him he needs to be Vintage Vince. In a meeting Monday, teammates told him to his face that he needs to quit deferring so much, be aggressive, creative and lead.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Coach Stan Van Gundy has said he will spend the weeks before the Oct. 28 regular-season opener trying to determine if the team is better off with [Rashard] Lewis at small forward. The [Orlando] Magic‘s version of The Great Experiment will have repercussions for the rest of the roster. If Lewis remains the starting power forward, either Quentin Richardson or Mickael Pietrus or maybe even J.J. Redick will serve as the team’s fifth starter. If Lewis starts at small forward, then either Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass will start at the other forward position. Either way, Lewis figures to receive plenty of time at both forward spots in the days and weeks ahead. One reason Van Gundy didn’t play Lewis at small forward during the Boston series was that Lewis had barely played the position during the year and the team wasn’t comfortable with him playing there. Making such a dramatic change in the middle of the playoffs might have done more harm than good. [...] This offseason, Lewis focused on his footwork, his quickness and on strengthening his legs — all to get ready for the defensive demands of playing small forward. Lewis said he’ll play whatever position will help the team win, but he acknowledged he would enjoy making a switch.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel marvels at the Amway Center.
  • Can Rashard Lewis and Brandon Bass co-exist on the court? To be determined.
  • If Dwight Howard takes Hakeem Olajuwon’s advice to heart, don’t be surprised if he takes a few more jumpers in games this season. This is what Howard had to say: “I’ve just got to keep shooting. That’s the only way you’re going to get comfortable: just keep trying things. The more you try, the better you’ll get at it. I’m not worried about that.”
  • Jameer Nelson is leaner and meaner this year.
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel wonders if it’s fair to compare Howard offensively to big men of NBA’s past, like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and others.
  • Nelson talks about Twitter: “One thing is I just want people to know that I’m a person like them. I can’t reach out to everybody, but on Twitter I think that’s a way for me to reach out to the fans and really tell them that I appreciate them being a fan and supporting the Magic, not only me.”
  • The Orlando Magic’s official website has tons of video from Media Day. Check it out.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Maybe it was that Philly edge oozing out his every pore or part of his undeniable swagger, but Jameer Nelson reacted almost incredulously when asked if he was offended by the rumors that his Orlando Magic explored potentially trading for point guard Chris Paul this past summer. Nelson is a far cry from a cocky or boastful type, but deep down he considers himself to be every bit the point guard of Paul, a perennial all-star. And considering the way that Nelson has played when fully healthy the past two seasons, it’s hard to argue with his logic. An all-star back in 2009, Nelson reaffirmed his status as one of the NBA’s elite point guards last spring when he almost single-handedly carried the Magic through the playoffs. [...] Mature enough to analyze his own game and know where he needs to improve to be an elite player who can take his team to a championship. Nelson said he replayed the Boston series over and over in his head for weeks, trying to figure out where he could be better this season. He then worked hard on his body to get lighter so that he could become a more agile defender. Van Gundy said the next step for Nelson is making strides defensively.”
  • The Magic are expecting more from Vince Carter this season.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post wonders if it’s wise to rely on Carter so heavily: “There are two interesting things to consider with this sudden spike in Carter features. For one, it’s that the media believe Carter needs more touches. For another, it’s that the entire Magic organization, it seems, agrees with that idea. I’m surprised on both counts. I wrote last week that, ideally, Carter would trim his usage even more, but play the same general style, and the Magic’s offense would rely more heavily on Dwight Howard as a result. The season’s last 41 games showed that this strategy can be successful. Yet it appears that, if anything, Orlando wants Carter to use more possessions.”
  • Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD: “While company lines such as hustling, focusing, and sacrificing are certainly important if a team wants to compete for a title, the biggest determinant in Orlando will be how their two biggest stars coexist in their second year playing alongside one another. With the season right around the corner, Dwight Howard and Vince Carter want to make it clear that they’re now on the same page.  The same was said last season but the two admittedly struggled to share the touches and alpha male role in Orlando.”
  • Make sure to read Kennedy’s article on the relationship between Carter and Howard.
  • Howard is releasing an album titled “Shoot for the Stars.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “Until arriving in Orlando, Carter never had played before with a dominating center like Dwight Howard, and he admittedly was uncomfortable with the fit last season, often unsure of his role. They often frustrated each other offensively. His let’s-get-along personality was not what Smith and Van Gundy wanted. They don’t want him deferring to Howard offensively. They want more of the games like his 48-point outburst against New Orleans in February, than games like he had in January, when he averaged just 8.5 points for the month.”

Sep 29

Fact or Fiction: Jameer Nelson Will Be an All-Star This Season

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Fernando Medina/NBA/Orlandomagic.com

Fact or Fiction presents both sides of key issues the Orlando Magic will face in the upcoming season.

Statement
Jameer Nelson will be an All-Star this year.

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Fact
One of the arguments in Jameer Nelson‘s favor is that he’s been an All-Star before.

In 2009, Nelson had a phenomenal campaign in the first half of the regular season and put up some absurd numbers offensively. For example, Nelson’s True Shooting percentage was .612 percent as a point guard – ranked 10th in the NBA that year.

Nelson was, without question, the second option on offense for the Orlando Magic and able to take his game to new heights with an aggressiveness and swagger not seen before.

For Nelson, that second year jump in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system was noticeable and it showed in his stats. Nelson was as efficient as they come, though his statistics were unsustainable when taking a closer look at how he manufactured his points. For example, Nelson shot 52 percent from 16-23 feet (league average was 40.1 percent). Nelson’s ability to hit long two’s at an obscene rate fueled his high shooting percentages and landed him on the All-Star team.

Unfortunately for Nelson, he suffered a shoulder injury on February 2 in a game against the Dallas Mavericks and was out for the remainder of the season, though he did make a cameo appearance in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers as many Magic fans know. Nelson readily admits he was nowhere close to 100 percent in the series.

As a result, Nelson had to shake off the rust in training camp last year and was able to do so in time for the regular season. Nelson even had a standout performance against the Toronto Raptors early in the year. However, Nelson injured his left knee on November 16 in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats and that took him back to square one.

It wasn’t until the second half of the season, after Nelson was able to get some rest at the All-Star break, that he was able to show glimpses of the player he was the previous season. And it wasn’t until the 2010 NBA Playoffs commenced that Nelson was able to perform at his absolute peak.

At his best, there’s no doubt that Nelson is the second-best player for the Magic.

When Nelson is healthy, he has proven he can produce at an All-Star level.

And guess what?

Nelson is fully healthy heading into the season. That’s a key factor.

Another factor is that Nelson’s competition at point guard in the Eastern Conference isn’t fierce.

It’s a safe bet that Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose will be All-Stars at point guard and depending on if one of them is named a starter, that opens up a slot on the bench for a player like Nelson to jump in and take it. Yes, Nelson will likely compete against the likes of Gilbert Arenas and Devin Harris but they are players that will need to prove they can return to form.

It should be noted, too, that Nelson will be competing against other players at different positions if he’s seeking one of the last reserve spots in the East. But one bright side is that the competition will be nowhere as extreme as it would be if Nelson was in the Western Conference, where he would have little chance of making the roster barring a ridiculous first-half performance.

All in all, Nelson has a shot at being an All-Star for a second time in three years.

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Sep 29

Orlando Magic Host Select-A-Seat Event for 2010-11 Season

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Fernando Medina/OrlandoMagic.com

Via the Orlando Magic:

WHO: Orlando Magic fans, Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, STUFF the Magic’s mascot and the Orlando Magic Dancers

WHAT: The Magic will host a Select-A-Seat event where fans are invited to see available seats for the upcoming 2010-11 season. This is the inaugural Amway Center seat selection event where the general public can come and select the best remaining seats for the 2010-11 season. This is the last opportunity for Magic fans to guarantee seats to see the Miami Heat, L.A. Lakers or Boston Celtics before they go on sale to the general public.

  • Event is free
  • First opportunity to see the Orlando Magic court down in the Amway Center
  • Plans offered at this event will include full season, half-season and 15-game ticket plans
  • Fun, interactive games on-site will include: STUFF’s Magic Castle presented by Club Wyndham interactive area and face painting
  • Select retail locations will be open for the purchase of Magic merchandise
  • STUFF and the Magic Dancers will be in attendance to sign autographs and take photos
  • Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw will be signing autographs
  • Free popcorn and soda will be available for all guests
  • Free parking will be available in the GEICO garage on a first-come, first-serve basis

WHEN: Sunday, October 3, 2010, 1 – 4 p.m.

WHERE:
Amway Center
400 West Church Street
Orlando, 32801

Sep 29

2010-2011 NBA Blog Previews: Pacific Division

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

ClippersClips NationSBNation Recap

KingsSactown RoyaltyCowbell KingdomSBNation Recap

LakersSilver Screen and RollForum Blue & GoldNBAtipoffSBNation Recap

SunsBright Side Of The SunSB Nation ArizonaValleyoftheSuns SBNation Recap

WarriorsGolden State of MindSBNation Recap

Recaps: All Previews

Sep 28

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “When the practice ended, [Stan] Van Gundy gathered his players at midcourt and gave them the option of holding the day’s second practice later than the scheduled 4 p.m. start time. It’s interesting to me that Van Gundy solicited their feedback, but the players had no objections to going at 4. The team broke his huddle by saying “Be great” in unison. The team will focus on its shooting and will lift weights in its afternoon session. Another interesting tidbit: Van Gundy mentioned once again that was especially pleased with Vince Carter’s conditioning efforts during the offseason. Van Gundy noted that Carter’s body fat level is 3 percent lower than it was at this time last year.”
  • For Vince Carter, the guessing game is over.
  • Jameer Nelson wasn’t bothered by the trade rumors involving Chris Paul.
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy speaks about the Miami Heat: “I just know and the players know that nobody can win a championship without going on the court and doing it. We’re not playing in a fantasy league. You want to win in this league, you have to go on the court and get it done. I don’t think anybody is doubting Miami’s talent and the fact that they’re going to be a serious challenge. But we don’t doubt Boston’s talent or them being a serious challenge. Or Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia… there’s a lot of people that got better in the East. The challenge only rises and I think we’re only confident in our team, and we look forward to those challenges ahead.”
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “Imagine that Vince Carter falls off the production cliff as age catches up with him and Rashard Lewis has another slight downturn. SVG starts to lose the locker room and all of a sudden the Magic have a disappointing season. Howard is going to keep that free agency possibility in his pocket as long as he has to to make sure the Magic continue to put him in a position to contend. Now, sure, the more likely scenario is the Magic have an Eastern Conference Finals run or better in them this season and everything looks up, he may commit. He genuinely loves the team, the city, and the organization. Being that kind of hero probably appeals to his temperament. But he’s going to maintain his position, the same position LeBron James and Chris Bosh held at this point in their career. Always saying the right things without saying the thing that locks you in. This summer was all about players getting what they want how they want, when they want. And it sounds like Dwight Howard will be following that formula to a T.”
  • Check out the Orlando Magic team photo in 360 degrees. Very cool.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk previews the season for the Magic: “The Magic may have the best roster to beat the Heat. Miami is insanely good at the two, three and four — if you beat them it will be by exploiting them at the point guard and center spots. I can see a playoff series where the Magic will run the Nelson/Howard pick-and-roll every time down, daring Bosh to help off Rashard Lewis or Wade off [J.J.] Redick. (Matt Barnes used to be the guy you helped off of, do that now and [Quentin] Richardson makes you pay.) Maybe the Heat can adjust, maybe they can just overwhelm, but don’t think they can just roll the Magic. That would be a great series. The Magic did not make many roster changes, nor should they have (unless an amazing opportunity fell in their lap). They went to the Finals two seasons ago. The second half of last season they were the best team in basketball, up until they ran into the playoff buzz saw that was the Celtics. This team is good, this team is on the edge of winning it all. You don’t mess with that much. They Magic will be one of the best regular season teams in the league, no doubt. The question is will they hone their game enough during the season to take the next step in the playoffs”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post provided excellent coverage of Media Day for Orlando. Make sure to check out his posts on J.J. RedickDaniel Orton, Marcin Gortat, and Chris Duhon. Enjoy!
  • More from Rock: “Reserve small forward Mickael Pietrus might just be the most fun player on the team to talk to. He kept the media around him in stitches with his earnest positivity. At times, it seems like Stan Lee is writing his dialog from the 1960s, as each of his sentences seems to end with at lest one exclamation point. The highlight of the day, for me, came when Pietrus said team chemistry ‘is as high as the Eiffel Tower!’ Later, he said it was an honor to be among the first players to take the court at the new Amway Center, while blowing a kiss in the direction of the old Amway Arena, saying ‘we’ll miss him.’ And no discussion with Pietrus is complete until he uses some variation of the line ‘life’s too short to be unhappy.’ ”
  • Reminiscing on the good times with Horace Grant.
  • The very best of Media Day in the NBA, brought to you by Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie.
  • “R” is for redemption and if anyone needs it, it’s Carter: “VC was awful in the playoffs last year for Orlando, and in the last year of his last major contract, this is the time to steer it right. No fadeaways, no nighttime classes, no headbands, and no moping. OK, there’s probably going to be moping. But get it together, Vince.”
  • General manager Otis Smith is pulling no punches on the Heat: “They’ve got a good three (players). I’ve got a good 12. We’re as deep as any team in the league, probably deeper. They’ve got three, and we’re solid 1-12. Until they start playing the games, it’s just a team on paper.”
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