Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 217

Jul 29

Interview with David Steele, Part I

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Photo by the Orlando Magic

21 years.

The Orlando Magic have been in existence for 21 years and in each of those years, David Steele has handled the play-by-play duties and called the action on the floor — first on radio for nine years, then on television for 12 years and counting. As such, Steele’s breadth of knowledge with the Magic is impeccable. And Steele has always been one of the very best at his craft, so it should have came as no surprise that he was named the NSSA Florida Sportscaster of the Year in April. The award was the first of Steele’s career. A long overdue but well-deserved honor, without a doubt.

Did I mention that Steele is a reader of Magic Basketball?

Steele is a man of the people and was more than willing to provide his opinion on what went wrong for the Magic in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, as well as recollect some of his fondest memories at Amway Arena, and more.

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In your opinion, what happened to the Orlando Magic against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals?

Well first, I think you have to talk about what Boston did. We caught a team, just like we caught Atlanta at a time when we were playing extremely well … I just felt like Boston was on a major roll and played outstanding basketball. Rondo was at the very top of his game, Pierce was unstoppable, and I give them a lot of credit. Perkins has always been a tough matchup for Dwight [Howard], just because he’s so big and strong. I think he does as good of a job defensively against Dwight as anybody defensively in the league, so you got that matchup. You had Pierce on a roll. You had Rondo on a roll. Allen was good. I just felt we played a very hot team.

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Jul 29

Rashard Lewis is Expected to See More Minutes at Small Forward

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Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel:

I had a nice conversation with Magic Bob Vander Weide — now the chief executive officer and vice chairman of the franchise — following Wednesday’s press conference. Glib and insightful as always, Vander Weide addressed the team’s style of play last season.

Not surprisingly, Magic fans can expect some changes.

As many people have barked about in columns, blogs and casual conversations, expect to see Brandon Bass get a lot more playing time at power forward [four slot], a switch that will allow Rashard Lewis to shift to the small forward [three] slot in the lineup. [...]

“In our post-season conversation, Stan [Van Gundy] said he should have practiced Rashard more at the three because on the baseline he’s probably the best post-up three when he plays that position, although we love him at four the majority of the time. If you don’t practice it, you don’t play it.”

Jul 28

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “There will be some reactionary backlash to the expensive pile of contract extensions and promotions that keep the Orlando Magic leadership team in play for a few more seasons. The ghost of Fran Vázquez will rise up from Spain. John Weisbrod will show up wearing a hockey mask. Little Penny will be there all alone, since Shaq bolted to Los Angeles to schmooze courtside with Jack Nicholson. A lot of stuff has happened since 1989 when the Magic were NBA newbies and won all of 18 games. When you’ve been in business that long, there’s bound to be some regretful hiccups. Steven Hunter, Jeryl Sasser and Reece Gaines come to mind. Frightening images, I know. But if you want to hold the Magic accountable for the bad days at the office, look around and gather a dose of perspective. This organization has bounced back from its mistakes, reinvented itself, and has been a bedrock of stability in a sport where complicated chaos is the first order of business on any given day.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Alex Martins and Otis Smith traveled parallel paths to get to where they are. They were born in Jan. 1964. They graduated from college in 1986. And, in 1989, they joined the Orlando Magic organization: Martins as director of publicity and media relations, Smith as a player. They’ll continue to work with each other — and coach Stan Van Gundy — for a while longer, at least. On Wednesday, Magic Chief Executive Officer Bob Vander Weide formally announced that Martins and Smith have been promoted and had their contracts extended by one year to run through the 2012-13 season. Van Gundy has received a two-year contract extension through the 2012-13 season. [...] Martins, who has been elevated to the role of team president, will continue to oversee the team’s day-to-day business operations. Smith, who has been promoted to president of basketball operations, will handle the same duties he had as the team’s general manager.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy made a trip to Paris and visited Mickael Pietrus.
  • General manager Otis Smith is still seeking a third point guard for the Orlando Magic.
  • The Magic are willing to spend — for now: “Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Bob Vander Weide understands that his team could end up with the NBA’s highest payroll by the time the 2010-11 season ends. For now, he sounds OK with that — even if it means going further into the league’s punitive luxury tax. [...] Vander Weide indicated that, for now, at least, the team will do what it takes financially to make a run at the NBA title.”
  • Dan Savage of NBA.com states that Orlando is committed to bringing a title to the City Beautiful.
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “As part of his two-year extension, Van Gundy will earn an estimated $4.3 million annually, putting him among the top 25 percent of coaches in the league. According to league sources, who confirmed his bonus clause, his contract is much like other NBA coaching contracts in that he will receive only a portion of it if the 2011-12 season is shortened because of the expected labor dispute. Although the Magic were unable to complete a potential trade earlier this summer that could have landed point guard Chris Paul of New Orleans — and they refused even to acknowledge the topic Wednesday — outside league sources confirmed that they indeed were willing to increase their future payroll significantly (i.e., taking Emeka Okafor’s bloated contract) to facilitate the deal.”
  • The Magic are locked and loaded for the future with Van Gundy at the helm.
  • Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA, according to one writer.
  • Which players for Orlando thrived against the weakest defensive teams in the league?

Jul 28

Orlando Magic Announce Leadership Promotions

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer/Vice Chair Bob Vander Weide has announced that Alex Martins has been promoted to Team President and Otis Smith has been promoted to President of Basketball Operations. In addition, Head Coach Stan Van Gundy has agreed to a multi-year contract extension. All contracts run through the 2012-13 season. Per team policy, other terms of the deals are not disclosed.

“Alex, Otis and Stan have brought great energy, dedication, leadership and vision to our organization,” said Vander Weide. “As a team, both from a basketball and business standpoint, they have us moving in a very positive direction and toward our ultimate goal of winning an NBA Championship.”

Since re-joining the organization in June of 2005, Martins has led the Magic in its business operations, while overseeing a ticket sales effort which saw the largest increase in attendance in the NBA, the growth of the Magic season ticket sales base to its largest point in team history, the most new sales and season tickets sold in the league in two of the last four years, the largest group sales effort in team history and the team’s highest season ticket renewal rate over the last seven years. Martins was also instrumental in helping to secure the new state-of-the-art Amway Center in Orlando, which is scheduled to open in October 2010.

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Jul 28

A Hypothetical Trade Offer for Chris Paul, Part II

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Since trade scenarios involving Chris Paul have reached a fever pitch recently, Ryan Schwan of Hornets247 felt it would be a fun exercise to open up the virtual bidding for the New Orleans Hornets’ all-world point guard and see which TrueHoop Network writer could come up with the winning bid. Yesterday, I revealed my Godfather offer — as Ben liked to put it — to Schwan for Paul and if this was real life, Magic fans would be very happy right now.

Among my peers, my trade proposal turned out to be the best.

However, I do have to splash a dose of reality to everyone. Even though I tried to make my offer as realistic as possible, I wanted to make it clear that general manager Otis Smith probably wouldn’t make the deal I made.

First, there’s little chance that Emeka Okafor would make his way to the Orlando Magic. Okafor’s four year, $53 million contract would be too much of a financial burden for the Magic to deal with in the long-term, even though their payroll wouldn’t change much if Paul was acquired in a deal right now. Yes, Orlando has shown a willingness to spend but they have their limits, and carrying the contracts of Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, Paul, and Okafor would much too much to bear since they’ll each continue to escalate in value in future seasons. Likewise, who knows what will happen with the collective bargaining agreement. Also, some people have suggested that Okafor and Howard can start together but they can’t.

And it’s the same reason why Marcin Gortat and Howard are unable to play in the same frontcourt, other than in spurts. Yeah, the Magic would benefit from the arrangement defensively and rebounding-wise but the spacing on offense would suffer. Like Gortat, Okafor has no range outside the paint and is not a credible threat offensively, which means that opponents would have an easier time either sending double-teams to Howard in the lane or rotating quickly to the shooters on the perimeter. Plus, Howard wouldn’t have as much space to operate on the low block. If Okafor had a reliable mid-range jumper, then I could see the possibility of him starting at power forward. But Okafor doesn’t have a jumpshot, and that’s where the discussion ends.

Second, Posey has a 10 percent trade kicker. According to Hoopdata.com (data via ShamSports), Posey is expected to earn $6,478,600 million with the New Orleans Hornets. However, if Posey was traded, his salary would jump up to $7,126,460 in 2011 and $7,617,940 in 2012. To put that number in perspective, Jameer Nelson‘s contract remains static at $7.6 million until 2013 when he has a player option. That being said, Posey’s pill is easier to swallow to compared to Okafor’s salary but it’s worth pointing out the type of money he would net if he were traded. Smith could manage with acquiring Posey alongside Paul, but not Okafor.

That’s why a third team would have to get involved to help the Hornets unload Okafor somewhere and maybe Nelson, too, for that matter (the Darren Collison factor). The point of this exercise is to show how difficult it’ll be for Orlando to pull off a trade for Paul.

It’s not impossible, but Smith would need to be creative.

Jul 27

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The Orlando Magic have drawn attention for their three-point-oriented offense under head coach Stan Van Gundy since he took over in 2007, and for good reason. The Magic love the three-ball and have made it a staple of their offense, setting an NBA record for three-pointers made in a single season in their most recent campaign, while ranking third in three-point accuracy. The high-volume, high-percentage attack seems to work well. And it appears to have gotten more potent this offseason. Orlando split its mid-level exception on point guard Chris Duhon and small forward Quentin Richardson, who will replace Jason Williams and Matt Barnes, respectively, in the coming seasons. In this way, the Magic have replaced two poor three-point shooters with two above-average ones. Prior to last season, Barnes shot 33.2% from beyond the arc in his career, while Williams connected on 32.5% of his triple tries. Their replacements are considerably more accurate, and give the Magic two rotation players at four positions who have shot between 35.9% and 39.2% for their careers.”
  • Dwight Howard doesn’t think the Miami Heat will be the best team in the NBA next year.
  • Tom Ziller of NBA FanHouse: “Here’s the thing: Okafor’s contract isn’t that bad. The forward-center is overpaid, sure, but who isn’t? There are numerous high-dollar contracts worse than that of Okafor. We all know teams pay premiums for big men, especially ones who can defend the rim. Okafor, despite his flaws as an offensive player, is among the league’s best paint defenders. He’s a rebounding savant (despite his sub-peak height) and a smart rotator and help defender. He makes teams better, and again, big men who make teams better get paid. The center Okafor replaced in New Orleans, Tyson Chandler — he gets paid as much as Okafor. [...] New Orleans seems saddled with Okafor for the foreseeable future, given that the Magic (a team that gave Rashard Lewis $120 million, mind you) has told FanHouse’s Tim Povtak they wouldn’t take on Okafor’s contract to get Paul. Ah, and there’s the real issue. Okafor is better than Chandler, and was much better than Chandler last season. But Chandler’s contract expires in 2011 while Okafor’s seems interminable. (For the record, Okafor’s deal expires in 2014)”
  • Get to know more about general manager Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy.

Jul 27

Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy Receive Contract Extensions

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Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Via Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic will put their title hopes into the hands of coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith for a while longer.

The Sentinel has learned that the Magic will announce Wednesday that Van Gundy and Smith have had their contracts extended through the 2012-13 season.

While technically the general manager, Smith has a new title: president of basketball operations.

The club also has promoted Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins to team president and his contract runs through 2012-13.

Bob Vander Weide, who held the title of club president and is the son-in-law of owner Rich DeVos, is now the chief executive officer and vice chairman of the franchise.

Well-deserved extensions and promotions.

Jul 27

First Amway Center Signs Completed

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Fernando Medina, Orlando Magic

Via the Orlando Magic:

Patrons entering the Amway Center beginning this fall will be greeted with an Amway Center sign above the main entrance doors to the facility. The sign, which was based off design drawings from RipBang Studios, Inc. and was locally fabricated and installed by Design Communications Ltd., was the first to be affixed to the Central Florida landmark. The Orlando Magic is the developer of the Amway Center which will compete to host major national events, concerts and family shows. Opening in the fall of 2010, the facility will be owned and operated by the City of Orlando on behalf of the Central Florida community.

The Amway Center was designed to reflect the character of the community, meet the goals of the users and build on the legacy of sports and entertainment in Orlando. The building’s exterior will feature a modern blend of glass and metal materials, along with ever-changing graphics via a monumental wall along one façade. A 180-foot tall tower will serve as a beacon amid the downtown skyline. At 875,000 square feet, the new arena is almost triple the size of the old Amway Arena (367,000 square feet). The building features a sustainable, environmentally-friendly design, unmatched technology, featuring 1,100 digital monitors and the largest, high-definition scoreboard in an NBA venue, and multiple premium amenities available to all patrons in the building. Every level of ticket buyer will have access to: the Everyfan’s Bar and Food Court, Club Restaurant, Nutrilite Magic Fan Experience and Orlando on Demand, Kid’s Zone and multiple indoor-outdoor spaces which celebrate Florida’s climate.

Jul 27

A Hypothetical Trade Offer for Chris Paul, Part I

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A few days ago, Ryan Schwan of Hornets247 conjured up a neat idea of “virtually” trading Chris Paul for fun. The premise was simple — any TrueHoop Network writer could participate and submit an offer to Schwan, then he would gather the offers, rank them, and trade Paul to the team with the best bid. I went ahead and threw my hat into the ring to try to see if I could put together a deal that would stand out from my colleagues and appeal to Schwan the most.

I tried to make my offer as realistic as possible and in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, but it’s worth noting that I didn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops to try to come away with the best deal. The process, itself, was transparent so everyone involved knew what the bids were, which made it an interesting exercise since we could all see what people were willing to give up for Paul in an alternate reality. Schwan won’t make the decision until later tonight, so none of the participants knows who won the bidding war.

However, feel free to check out my offer.

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Jul 27

The Never-Ending Tale with Chris Paul

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

According to multiple people within the NBA who are familiar with the Hornets’ predicament, Paul’s new cadre of power brokers at Creative Artists Agency, led by Rose, are continuing to push Paul’s exit strategy from New Orleans — something members of the organization are well aware of and expected.

The Hornets, meanwhile, have been looking at Orlando, Charlotte and New Jersey as potentially attractive trade partners once the firestorm settles down, according to one of the people with direct knowledge of the Hornets’ strategy. Two other sources familiar with the situation confirmed prior discussions involving the Bobcats and Nets and said those talks are expected to advance in the coming days.

The Hornets are concentrating on Eastern Conference teams as trade partners in the event they decide it isn’t feasible to enter the 2010-11 season with their franchise player wanting out. And despite Monday’s optimistic spin, that is where things are headed, sources say. [...]

There are indications that the Hornets believe the [Orlando] Magic, Bobcats and Nets would have equally, if not more attractive assets to offer. The positive spin emanating from Monday’s meeting allows the Hornets to “keep working on it,” and puts them in “a better negotiating position to do so,” said one of the sources.

The Chris Paul storyline never ends.

And it won’t end until Paul is with a new team, it appears.

The news to take away from this report is that the New Orleans Hornets have been concentrating on the Eastern Conference for potential trade partners, including the Orlando Magic. This is significant because this is the franchise, not the player, that is looking into the situation. It’s been widely reported that Paul would prefer to play not only for the Magic but the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Portland Trail Blazers. Yet Orlando is the only team that is on the “list” for both parties.

It makes sense when you think about it.

It’s common practice for franchises in the NBA to trade their superstars to the other conference for maximum damage control. Magic fans should know that better than anyone, given that Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady were shipped off to teams in the Western Conference back in the day.

Surely the Magic are in the best position to win in Paul’s eyes, compared to the Charlotte Bobcats and the New Jersey Nets, but that doesn’t matter. What matters most, especially to the Hornets if they pull the trigger and trade Paul, is that they get maximum value for their superstar. Remember, New Orleans has leverage with the situation and they’re the ones that will decide where Paul goes. Orlando has assets, but that’s not the issue.

What many people are trying to figure out is if the Magic have the gumption to take on Emeka Okafor’s four year, $53 million contract? Some say no but let’s be frank, no one really knows what general manager Otis Smith is thinking. When it comes to information, Smith is the master of misdirection. Smith almost always plays things close to the vest. If the answer is yes (Smith would have to get creative if it’s no), then the next logical question is whether or not Orlando can put together a winning bid? No one knows.

The only thing that is certain is that the Hornets are the ones that will decide Paul’s fate.

If Paul is traded, there’s no guarantee he’ll land with the Magic. However, there is apparent interest on both sides and that’s something worth noting.

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