- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Earl Clark is thankful the Phoenix Suns agreed to trade him to the Orlando Magic as part of the six-player, blockbuster deal in mid-December. The move to Orlando might have saved his NBA career. Earlier this year, when the Suns declined to pick up Clark’s $2 million option to keep him for the 2011-12 season — making him a free agent this summer — Clark took it personally and wondered what his NBA future would entail. He barely played in Phoenix, had a reputation as a not-so-hard worker and was stuck between forward positions. It appeared Clark would be competing to make an NBA squad from the end of a bench on a new team next season. But that all changed in December when the Suns sent Clark to the Magic in the deal that brought Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson to Orlando. The fresh start rejuvenated Clark, a second-year player out of Louisville.”
- The Orlando Magic’s search for a shooting guard continues.
- An update on Daniel Orton.
- Ric Bucher of ESPN.com talks about his back-and-forth discussion with Dwight Howard in the locker room when the Magic lost Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks.
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com recaps Orlando’s season and ends with this note: “It will be fascinating to see what the Magic try to do this offseason in an effort to bounce back and return to championship-level form. Except for J-Rich, everyone on the Magic’s roster is under contract for next season. Since Richardson was very valuable to Orlando since his arrival, it’s certainly possible that Otis [Smith] will try and re-sign him to a long-term deal. Otherwise, if there are any changes to the Magic those alterations will likely come in the form of trades.”
- Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider provides a solution for the Magic’s woes but not before warning that the task to improve will be difficult: “The Magic could blow it up again, but “it” is rubble anyway. We saw this season that there’s no such thing as an unmovable contract — interestingly enough, thanks to Magic GM Otis Smith — but the stock of [Gilbert] Arenas and Turkoglu has fallen so low that they’re glorified sunk costs at this point. If this sounds like we’re painting a grim picture here, that’s because it is a grim picture. There are no easy answers here, but this is the bed that Smith made. They have no room to sign anyone in free agency and they don’t have the positioning in the draft to pluck an instant contributor. Flexibility-wise, Smith is in a straitjacket, and his only hope is that Arenas and Turkoglu do their best Benjamin Button impressions or accept buyouts. Both scenarios are pipedreams.”
An unconventional power forward, [Ryan] Anderson intrigues teams. He has size at 6-feet 10, can shoot the 3 and could be a better post-up player with some weight-room work. What also is appealing is Anderson’s salary over the next three seasons: $1.4 million, $2.2 million, $3.2 million. He could be the “sweetener” the [Orlando] Magic would have to add to a deal that returns a starting shooting guard or power forward.
What the Magic have with [Brandon] Bass, in reality, is a starting power forward that would be a solid back-up on other teams. If you could only splice Bass and Anderson together in some Swedish laboratory, you’d have a star, although neither are great defenders. Bass is labeled “No-Pass Bass” because you’ll seldom get the ball back from him. But he can shoot it from medium range, and he also has a power game. Too bad he’s only about 6-7. Like Anderson, he has a friendly contract ($4 mill for each of the next two seasons.)
I think shooting guard J.J. Redick has some value as a 3-point threat and ball-mover, although teams aren’t wild about his remaining two seasons at $6.5 million and $6 million.
Locked into some long-term contracts and in a salary-cap situation comparable to the national debt, the Magic can only hope that Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon rebound to increase their value. Gilbert Arenas? Even if he bounced back, other franchises still fear his dog-eared baggage.
General manager Otis Smith has his work cut out for him in the offseason. The blockbuster trades in December have left Smith with little wiggle room to fix the roster.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
As the franchise attempts to sort out exactly what went wrong, where 2010-11 turned for the worse, they can point to a mystifying playoff shooting slump or to some superb clutch shots by the Atlanta Hawks’ Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson or even to a few unfortunate bounces of the basketball.
But the [Orlando] Magic likely would be better served to recall Dec. 18, the day their team completed two high-risk trades that would define their season and might limit many of their seasons to come.
The team acquired Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick and cash. The Magic also obtained Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis.
Those deals provided the Magic an immediate short-term infusion of energy and offensive skill that led to a nine-game winning streak in late December and early January. But the longer-term aftereffects weakened Orlando’s defense, put additional pressure on center Dwight Howard and didn’t give the team the additional offensive firepower it needed at playoff time. [...]
[Otis] Smith never could have foreseen that Richardson would get into an altercation with Zaza Pachulia that led to Richardson’s ejection for Game 3′s final minutes and Richardson’s subsequent Game 4 suspension. Smith also can’t be blamed for Richardson stepping on some broken glass while in bare feet last Tuesday, an accident that slowed Richardson in Game 5 and severely hobbled Richardson in Game 6.
Indeed, take away either the altercation or the accident, and the Magic might be preparing now for the playoffs’ second round.
But although Richardson displayed toughness, he didn’t develop into the consistent, dependable second scoring that the Magic needed to complement Howard on offense.
Neither did Turkoglu, who became more of a passer than a shooter after a mesmerizing 17-assist performance on Jan. 8 in Dallas. Indeed, Turkoglu made just over 29 percent of his shots in the playoffs and couldn’t match the quickness and explosiveness of his Atlanta counterpart, Josh Smith.
Starting in the next week or so, the rise and fall of the Orlando Magic as an elite team and championship contender will be examined by Magic Basketball in a three-part series — specifically by Nate Drexler, Danny Nowell, and myself.
Key events will be analyzed on a macro and micro level.
The macro side of things will encompass general manager Otis Smith’s construction and, in some ways, deconstruction of a franchise that appeared in the 2009 NBA Finals, only to regress the next two years by losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010 and first round in 2011.
The micro side of things will touch on the signing of Rashard Lewis, a player that exemplified the rise and fall of the Magic in many ways. It’s Lewis’ arrival that triggered Orlando’s ascent to being one of the best teams in the NBA and it’s his eventual regression that signaled the end of that run of success. Also, the parallels between LeBron James (as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers) and Dwight Howard will be closely looked at, given that they are two players that have experienced similar career paths with the teams that originally drafted them. And like James, Howard’s future is under an intense microscope, given that everyone is trying to decipher whether he’ll remain with the Magic for the long-term or if he’ll move on and leave.
Stay tuned for these articles.
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose is the youngest Most Valuable Player award-winner in the history of the NBA.
The 22-year-old Rose was officially announced as MVP on Tuesday after leading the Bulls to a 62-20 record and No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Rose finished with 113 first-place votes and 1,182 total points. The [Orlando] Magic‘s Dwight Howard finished second with three first-place votes and 643 points. The Heat’s LeBron James was third with 522 points, including four first-place votes, and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was fourth with 428 points and one first-place vote.
The Chicago-born point guard had a breakout third season, averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds. After a summer with the U.S. National team, Rose made a significant leap.
During the Bulls’ media day in September, Rose wondered aloud in front of the media why he couldn’t win the MVP award. Eight months later, Rose answered his own question.