- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “I have it on good authority that Vince [Carter] has been one of the regulars at the Magic’s headquarters this offseason, working out daily with teammates and strength and conditioning coaches. Vince took it particularly hard last spring when the [Orlando] Magic were beaten by Boston because he didn’t play well in that series at all. He has to know deep down that the Magic can’t win a championship without him playing near his peak level. No, he’s not the player that he was five years ago, but Carter still has some pop left. He was relieved not to be traded away from Orlando, his hometown team, over the summer and knows the season ahead could very well be his last legitimate shot at winning a championship.”
- Want to know why Malik Allen is with the Orlando Magic? Look no further than his relationship with head coach Stan Van Gundy.
- Ben Osborne of SLAM ONLINE: “Forget the Heat for a second; the Magic haven’t even gotten the same hype this offseason as the Celtics (or respect; I was a bit surprised by the voting in yesterday’s Polladaday). But that doesn’t mean they won’t be a worthy challenger. Orlando is coming off a 59-win season and is just 15 months removed from playing in the Finals. While LeBron is the one who famously said he wants to be a “global icon,” Magic leader [Dwight] Howard is the one who spent this offseason traveling the world, spending time in China and India and readying for a trip to Haiti as we went to press, as well as working on commericals and a movie. Dwight has been so busy, in fact, that some fans wonder if he’s doing all he can to get better as a player. Well, in a great interview by our man Aggrey Sam, Dwight says that he can indeed do it all.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post asks “[w]hat are Howard’s chances of repeating as the league’s rebounder and shot-blocker? Who are his biggest competitors for those honors?” Click here for an answer.
- More from Rock: “The rumors surrounding the apparently unhappy Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, a three-time All-Star and one of the league’s most dynamic scorers, won’t cease until he agrees to an extension with the Nuggets, or until they trade him. And the latest word is that the Orlando Magic are among the four teams to which he’d agree to be dealt. Kate Fagan, on the 76ers beat for the Philadelphia Inquirer, did some digging in the wake of Ken Berger’s report earlier this week that Philadelphia had entered the bidding for Anthony. While she shot that part of the rumor down, she did learn the Magic, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, and New York Knicks have made Anthony’s shortlist of destinations.”
- “E” is for energy guys like Bo Outlaw!
Via the Orlando Magic:
As part of Amway’s ‘Positive Sprouts’ program, Amway, the Orlando Magic and Magic rookie Daniel Orton will build an edible garden at the Universal Orlando Foundation Boys & Girls Club (5055 Raleigh St., Orlando, 32811) on September 18, 2010. Orton will be joined by Orlando Magic representatives, Amway executives and employees, Boys & Girls Club staff and community volunteers to help build the edible garden that will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Orlando. The garden project also runs in conjunction with the NBA Cares Week of Service activities.
Amway has built gardens in six other cities around the country this summer with the Orlando Magic joining the partnership to build the Orlando garden. The build will serve as the final location for the Positive Sprouts program in 2010.
The Amway Positive Sprouts project mobilizes volunteers and incorporates the gardening expertise of the Green Education Foundation (GEF) to teach youth how to start and maintain their own edible gardens. An accompanying curriculum will educate youngsters about nutrition, organic gardening practices, and cooking from the garden.
With the start of the NBA season just weeks away, every NBA team will host a variety of hands-on service events through Oct. 25 in a collaborative effort to give back to children, families, and the community and to increase fan awareness about the importance of service.
The NBA Cares Week of Service aligns with President Obama’s recent launch of the United We Serve initiative (serve.gov), which seeks to expand the impact of volunteer work in existing organizations and encourage individuals to make a difference in their communities. Fans can find out about volunteer opportunities and learn more about the NBA’s community partners by going to NBA.com/nbacares.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic announced the signing of power forward Malik Allen on Thursday, rounding out the Magic’s current roster at 15 players. Terms of Allen’s deal aren’t disclosed, but the contract certainly won’t be guaranteed past training camp. Allen is most likely just a training camp body. Allen, a 6-foot-10 journeyman who has played with seven teams over his nine-year NBA career, appeared in 51 games with Denver last season. He traditionally plays power forward — a position the Magic are overloaded at — so it’s safe to assume he’ll need some help (injury, trade, etc.) to make Orlando’s regular-season roster.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Allen is primarily a jump-shooter; Synergy Sports Technology classifies two-thirds of his shot attempts as jumpers, converting them at a 40.8 percent clip. Due to his lack of lift and poor touch, he is well below par as a finisher at the basket, converting just 11 of his 25 shots at point-blank range, according to HoopData. As I wrote this morning, whomever the Magic invite to camp will face long odds to actually make the team. That seems especially true for Allen, who would clearly be the team’s seventh big man to use only in case of emergency. But he is regarded as a hard worker and a good locker-room presence, which works in his favor. In case you’re curious, Allen will wear uniform no. 35.”
- Royce Young of CBSSports.com talks about flopping in the NBA.
- Dwight Howard is, apparently, dealing with a little domestic trouble.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk sets the record straight on newly-acquired Malik Allen: “Allen was not particularly impressive in Denver, so it is a little interesting that the Magic went with the veteran rather than a youngster they could bring along and develop. Then again, this is a veteran team who wants a ring, so Allen may be a better locker room fit. Either way, he’s in.”
- If there was a new expansion team in the NBA, which Magic players would they take?
- Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider takes a look at the worst five players for every NBA franchise. The criteria was that “a player needed to have played at least 10 minutes per contest over the course of at least 100 career games with the franchise.” The lucky winners for Orlando were Greg Kite, Jeff Turner, Anthony Avent, Gerald Wilkins, and Mark Acres.
- More positional analysis from Haberstroh at Hardwood Paroxysm: “Pretty much all point guards feature a long two game. The most long-two resistant point guard last year was Chris Duhon and even he took more than the typical center did. Gotta have that pull-up jumper to keep the defender honest off the dribble.”
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie with a must-read article about blogs: “The idea behind a blog, as vague a term as it is in September of 2010 is still valid. Still brilliant. Still worth getting giddy over. It’s the idea that writers can put things into the machine, and have their work pop out without much editorial stank in the way. This isn’t always a good thing. This isn’t often a good thing. But it’s changed things. It’s the idea that writers can speak in a voice that wasn’t handed down to them by Medill or Mizzou or ages of journalistic how-tos muddling and mixing and creating an unremarkable beast out of what was once a talented and of-him/herself writer. The idea that I can toss out a 43-word sentence like the one you just struggled through, and not have it be covered in red ink a day and a half later.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic will hold their 2010-11 training camp at the new Amway Center in Orlando, beginning Tuesday, September 28. In addition, the Magic have signed free agent forward Malik Allen (#35, 6-10, 255, 6/27/78, Villanova). The roster currently stands at 15 players (roster to follow).
Practices will be held on the Magic practice court at the new Amway Center twice per day from September 28-October 3 from 9:30 a.m. until approximately noon, then and again from 4 p.m. until approximately 6 p.m. All sessions are closed to the public. [...]
On October 4, the Magic will practice from 9:30 a.m. until approximately 11:30 a.m., then depart for their preseason opener against Houston. Orlando begins the preseason against the Rockets in Hidalgo, Texas on Tuesday, October 5 (8:30 p.m., Sun Sports). After playing at Indiana on Friday, October 8, the Magic will host their first preseason game at the new Amway Center on Sunday, October 10 against New Orleans. Tip-off is 6 p.m. The Magic open the 2010-11 regular season at home on Thursday, October 28 against the Washington Wizards. The complete schedule is available through the team’s official website: orlandomagic.com.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Stanley Robinson, whom the Orlando Magic selected with the 59th pick in this year’s NBA Draft, didn’t exactly distinguish himself in his four years at Connecticut, doesn’t have much of a jump shot, and is, to quote one team source, “deficient” in any facet of basketball which doesn’t involve the use of athleticism. He’s also the sixth forward on a fourteen-man team with championship aspirations. These factors are all working against his chances of making an impact in his rookie season. But Magic GM Otis Smith wouldn’t have drafted Robinson if he didn’t think he was at least worth a look, and by signinghim to a non-guaranteed contract well before the beginning of training camp, Smith signaled that Robinson will have an opportunity to prove himself. And John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com wrote earlier this summer that Robinson is indeed thrilled to have that chance.
The rotation for the Orlando Magic is, more or less, set in stone, aside from a possible battle at the back-up power forward position between Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass. And apart from the grand opening of the Amway Center on October 10 as well as a meeting with the Miami Heat on October 22 in Tampa, the Magic’s pre-season won’t be very eventful. But if there’s someone to keep an eye on as training camp is set to begin for Orlando in a few weeks, it’s Stanley Robinson. The only player for the Magic that will be literally fighting for his job is Robinson, given that he has an unguaranteed contract. There’s a lot of things Robinson will need to work on in order to have a successful career in the NBA, but he’ll get his chance to prove his worth soon enough.
Best of luck to him.
The Magic will host the 20th Annual Orlando Magic Championship for Charity Golf Tournament. The event is expected to have more than 200 golf participants, along with one-of-a-kind Magic auction items and an awards luncheon.
Ten children ages 8-16 representing organizations who received grants from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (Orlando Magic Youth Foundation- McCormick Foundation Fund) will be on-site from 7-8:30 a.m. They will assist the golfers in registration and with the Wyndham Vacation Ownership’s Warm-up Contest. OMYF beneficiaries represented at the course will include: A Gift for Music, Florida Hospital for Children, The Gift of Swimming, The Salvation Army, AMI Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, Jewish Family Services and Orlando Repertory Theatre.
Over the last 21 years nearly $16 million has been distributed to local non-profit community organizations via the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF-MFF), a McCormick Foundation Fund since 1994, which serves at-risk youth. Earlier this year, the OMYF, in a surprise ceremony, presented checks totaling nearly $700,000 to 23 grantee organizations from three counties in Central Florida (Orange, Seminole and Osceola).
Needless to say, Jameer Nelson made Kenny Smith eat his words after the game was over.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
If there’s one player for the Orlando Magic that could have a major impact on the season this year, aside from Dwight Howard, it’s fellow captain Jameer Nelson.
In the 2010 NBA Playoffs, there was no question that Nelson was the second-best player for the Magic. To some, that was a surprise.
Entering the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats, there were a few writers that thought Nelson’s matchup with Raymond Felton would be nothing more than a toss-up. To be honest? It’s hard to blame those people when comparing the regular season numbers of Nelson and Felton. Yet four games later, nearly everyone was forced to pick up Felton’s remains after Nelson torched him.
It was more of the same against Mike Bibby in Orlando’s series against the Atlanta Hawks. At this stage in his career, Bibby is known as a defensive sieve and Nelson made sure to remind those that forgot. If it wasn’t for the fact that nearly every player for the Magic played well, Nelson could have done the same damage to Bibby as he did to Felton in the previous matchup.
As for Rajon Rondo, many suggested that he dominated against Nelson for the Boston Celtics but that wasn’t the case. Did Rondo best Nelson in the series? In some aspects, yes, but ‘dominated’ seems too strong of a word since Rondo could do little to stop Nelson on his warpath in Games 4 and 5. But that’s neither here nor there. As they say, history is the propaganda of the victors.
At the very least, Nelson proved that he could play at an All-Star caliber level with consistency in the postseason for Orlando, as well as hold his own against — arguably — the best defensive point guard in the NBA. The cruel irony is that Nelson’s performance in the playoffs further twisted the knife in the hearts of Magic fans, many of which are convinced he could have been the difference maker in the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers if he was healthy.
It’s another ‘what if’ scenario that could be explored in the future at some point.
All in all, this is an important year for Nelson because he’s going to have to play like an All-Star if the Magic want to overtake the Celtics and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
That much is clear.
Can Nelson play at that level this year?
- General manager Otis Smith: “I think our team is better overall. I don’t think it was a matter of dismantling our roster and then putting it back together. I think it was a matter of keeping our team together, keeping some continuity and making some tweaks and adjustments, which we did by bringing in Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson. We brought them in so we would be able to do some things better than we did before. Now with all that said, we’re going to have to be a mentally tougher team than we have been the last two years. It has nothing to do with our Xs and Os or a jump shot made, free throws or rebounds. We just have to be a mentally tougher basketball team. Can we compete with those teams at that level? Sure we can. You don’t win 59 games back-to-back years and go to the Eastern Conference Finals back-to-back years and go to The Finals one of those years without being able to compete at that level. We just have to do the 1/8 of an inch, the amount that it takes you to go from good to great. We may go through some rough points in the season that we grow out of through the course of the postseason. That’s kind of why you go through an 82 game season. You’re not going to go through an 82 game season and win 69 games and just run through the playoffs that way. It doesn’t work that way. You’re going to have to experience some ups and downs, get some bumps and bruises and mend so that you can make a playoff run.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post wonders who will be the starting small forward for the Orlando Magic on opening night: “On the whole, [Mickael] Pietrus has youth and familiarity with the team’s system on his side, and he’s joined the Magic’s starting five in each of the last two season-openers. Yet he’s also started just 49 of his 129 games with the Magic, and the team fared better with him as part of the second unit last year, benefitting from Matt Barnes’ energy and hustle. Furthermore, a recent study suggested that the Nelson/Carter/Pietrus/Lewis/Howard configuration vastly underperformed last season; it proved less than the sum of its parts. Does [Stan] Van Gundy trust that lineup to put it together this year? If the answer is no, the job clearly belongs to Richardson, despite his earning less than half of what Pietrus will this season.”
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated thinks Fran Vazquez comes away a ‘loser’ after the 2010 FIBA World Championships concluded a few days ago: “Remember Vazquez? Orlando’s lottery pick (11th overall) in 2005 who has never played a minute in the NBA? Vazquez had a couple of big games, highlighted by a 16-point performance against Slovenia and a 19-point showing against Canada. But he didn’t make a consistent impact, and he vanished in Spain’s loss to Argentina. What’s more, Vazquez sounds indifferent in interviews about ever playing in the NBA. No question Vazquez’s size (6-10, 229 pounds) and natural shot-blocking skills make him an intriguing prospect, but at 27 it might be time to write him off.”
- Dwight Howard: “I think our team is fine how it is. We don’t need much. We’re right there every year. It’s really the little pieces that make the engine go. What it’s really going to come down to is my leadership and how well me and Jameer [Nelson] work together. But I have to be the leader of the team in order to get us over the hump.”
- There could never be enough chatter about the Magic and the Miami Heat.
- See what I mean? Shaun Powell of NBA.com has more: “The stretch of Florida’s Turnpike between Miami and Orlando is famous for toll booths, orange groves, a handful of unfortunate possums who weren’t quick enough and now, for scorched earth. That’s from the piping rivalry being ratcheted up between the great basketball teams residing in the state. All the necessary ingredients are there to make for a spicy stew: Territorial and professional pride, championship aspirations, hard feelings, angry words, ego and intense competition. In other words, just what the NBA needs — a taste of drama with a strong kick to it. [...] Because this is how it works in sports, the basketball community will rush to have the Magic fitted for white hats. The same folks who despised Vince Carter, for example, will now root for him. J.J. Redick might even get some love. And everyone will revisit Van Gundy’s exit as coach in Miami and portray him as a victim, for good reason (although he did walk away with swollen pockets).”
- An official welcome for Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel.
- Chad Ford of ESPN Insider gives Orlando’s a C- for their off-season: “The Magic are loaded. They have deep talent at virtually every position and, as in the past two seasons, look poised to make another deep run into the playoffs. But as far as summers go, they didn’t have a great one. While teams like the Heat, Celtics and Bulls upgraded or reloaded, the Magic basically stood pat. Considering they failed to make the Finals this year, that’s a bit surprising. Magic fans are hoping that Redick continues to improve, that Duhon adds some stability at the point and that [Daniel] Orton could end up being a late first-round steal. But the truth is that while much of the East got better, the Magic stood still.”
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Geez, I go off to Richmond to cover a NASCAR race for a few days and look what happens:
We’re all going to need protective fire suits to cover the NBA this season. The Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat are going old-school nasty, making like Richard Petty and David Pearson, rubbin’ tires and tradin’ paint before the season even starts.
To briefly recap, Magic general manager Otis Smith called out LeBron James, questioning his competitive desire after signing with the Heat. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy ripped Chris Bosh, calling him Dwayne Wade’s “lapdog.” Then Miami Heat President Pat Riley shot back, ripping Smith and Van Gundy.
Then Van Gundy lashed back at Riley. [...]
For once, nobody can blame the media for trying to stir the pot. The pot’s already boiling over with contentious crossfire.
And that’s how it should be.
The best rivalries need a few obvious ingredients: Two great competitors (check), a contempt for each other’s lifestyle (check), and a lively volley of words between both sides (double-check).
Think Frazier-Ali, Celtics-Lakers, Yankees- Red Sox. Dare we add Magic-Heat to the mix?
The Three Amigos/Axis of Evil have already pranced and danced on stage at their coming out party in South Florida in July, complete with pyrotechnics and pose downs like they were part of a WWE show. They are the alpha dogs who are going to take a whizz on everybody’s lawn, including the one by that fancy-schmantzy new place in Orlando.
Another writer chimes in on this feud.