Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 220

Jul 02

What About Brandon Bass?

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel:

What happens if the [Orlando] Magic trade Marcin Gortat, presumably to get an upgrade at power forward and move Rashard Lewis to small forward?

Who the heck is going to be the Magic backup center?

It’s not going to be Daniel Orton. He was barely a presence at the University of Kentucky last season. He is looking at “redshirt” year in the NBA. Adonal Foyle is likely to retire.

I don’t see anyone who fits the bill, with the possible exception of Brad Miller, who could command Orlando’s mid-level exception. The Boston Celtics are reportedly targeting Miller to replace Rasheed Wallace.

The answer to that question might be Brandon Bass, believe it or not, the diminutive power forward that received little playing time this year yet ironically won over the hearts of Magic fans in the process.

Before arriving to the Orlando Magic as a free agent last season, Bass played back-up center for the Dallas Mavericks and the arrangement worked out okay. Or as well as you could expect it to work out at least, having an undersized power forward play at center. Part of the reason that Bass can get away with playing the center position is that he makes up for his lack of height with his athleticism and strength. Bass is just as strong as other centers but more importantly, he’s quicker than them which can partially make up the fact that they have a size advantage over him.

But as was the case with the Mavericks, Bass gets in trouble defensively when trying to execute defensive schemes and rotations. This is not a new development by any means for Bass, who has struggled on defense the past several years. Plus, Bass is a below-average defensive rebounder — his defensive rebound percentage of 12.6 percent was less than the league average of 14.4 percent this year. If Bass were to play center and let’s say, Rashard Lewis, was at power forward, the Magic would get pummeled on the boards. The only way Orlando could alleviate the problem, somewhat, would to have a strong rebounder like Matt Barnes at small forward, who could do his best to make up for the discrepancy. However, it’s looking less likely that Barnes will return to the Magic, so that option may not be available.

There’s no question that Bass would have his advantages on offense, given that his mid-range shooting is his greatest strength as a player and he also does well with offensive rebounds. Yet his weaknesses with defending, where he acts more on instinct than anything else, and rebounding the basketball undermine Bass’ ability to play more than spot minutes at center.

If Marcin Gortat is traded, Diaz’s question is a valid one.

Jul 02

Free Agent Notebook, Day 2: Matt Barnes, Carlos Boozer, and More

To better make sense of the madness that is free agency, especially considering their historical ramifications within the framework of the NBA, I’m going to aggregate any facts and rumors that pertain to the Orlando Magic into a notebook-type post. The posts will be constructed daily at 12:00 PM EDT and updated throughout the day. Make sure to check back when updates are made available. I’ll post a time-stamp at the beginning of the posts to make it easier for you, the reader, to know about the latest news. I’ll make notifications on Twitter, too. As the free agent period begins to wind down and the Magic fill out their roster, the notebooks will be posted sporadically — every few days or so. I know my friend and former colleague, Ben Q. Rock, is doing a similar thing at Orlando Pinstriped Post (without the updates, I believe) so I’ll try to mix things up as much as possible to avoid redundancy.

Also, if you happen to come across any free agent or trade news related to the Magic, feel free to pass it along in the comments section and you’ll get a hat tip in the post for the scoop.

With that said, let’s get to it.

UPDATED as of 8:08 PM EDT.

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Jul 02

Magic Basketball Mailbag, 7/2/10

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Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Here’s another installment of the Magic Basketball Mailbag.

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Do you see any positives in acquiring Carlos Boozer, besides satisfying Dwight Howard?

A great question and a timely one, given that Carlos Boozer has been linked to rumors associated with the Orlando Magic the past few days.

Let’s talk about the negatives first.

If the Magic’s goal in acquiring Boozer is to combat the length and frontcourt of the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, the last two teams to defeat them in the playoffs, then they might have the wrong player in their sights. More so against the Lakers than the Celtics, just to clarify. It’s always tough to look at the numbers without knowing the full context behind them, but Boozer’s success against Kevin Garnett has historically been hit or miss. However, if we’re looking at Boozer’s performances against Garnett since he joined the Celtics, things don’t look too shabby. Boozer’s scoring and rebounding totals fall below his norms, but he partly makes up for things with excellent efficiency on offense. Granted, it’s also difficult to discern how Boozer performed on defense but that’s neither here nor there. Ultimately, Orlando’s downfall in the last two postseasons has been their inability to score against Boston and Los Angeles. Against the Celtics at least, Boozer can score efficiently enough even if he isn’t dropping 20-plus points … though he should be scoring that much, if not more. Knowing that Garnett isn’t getting any younger, Boozer might provide the scoring punch Orlando needs. Might.

However, against the Lakers, that’s a different story.

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Jul 01

The Familiar Tale of Shaquille O’Neal in 1996

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Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Via Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse:

Just ask Pat Williams, Orlando’s senior vice president, what a disaster it was to lose Shaq in 1996.

“It took me 10 years to halfway get over it,” said Williams, who has been with the [Orlando] Magic since before the team’s inaugural season of 1989-90. “To lose a 24-year-old that is the franchise is just very, very painful. … The wounds didn’t start to heal until eight years later when we drafted Dwight Howard (a center with the No. 1 pick in 2004), and we began to make our way back. We were impacted for a decade. It was very, very difficult.”

It took 12 years before the Magic would again have a 50-win season after Shaq’s departure, although Orlando did go 33-17 (the equivalent of 54-28) during the 1998-99 lockout season. The Magic finally made it back to the Finals in 2008-09.

Ask Magic players from the summer of 1996 where they were when the news hit that O’Neal was definitely gone, and they can tell you. It still hurts.

“I’ll always remember that day,” [Nick] Anderson said. “I was watching the Olympics (from Atlanta) and there was a bulletin that flashed across the screen and then there was (Lakers general manager) Jerry West holding up a Shaquillle O’Neal jersey. And then my dad called me and said, ‘The championship just went to L.A.”’

Not just one, but three. O’Neal led the Lakers to titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. As if to further add pain to the Magic, O’Neal won a fourth with in-state rival Miami in 2006.

“I remember Shaq calling me up and he says, ‘Hey, bro, I’m going to L.A. They really wanted me more than the Magic,”’ Scott recalls. “John Gabriel (then Orlando’s general manager) is a good friend and every time I see him now, he says, ‘You were right.”’

Scott said he had told Gabriel that the Magic, when offering O’Neal an $88 million package, was putting too little on the table. The Lakers, after clearing salary-cap space by giving players away for next to nothing, carved out enough to give Shaq a seven-year, $121 million contract.

Williams said the Magic, who could go over the cap to sign O’Neal, eventually raised its offer to more than what the Lakers could pay. But it was too late.

Want more? Fran Blinebury of NBA.com has more on O’Neal’s memorable departure.

Jul 01

Orlando Magic Sign First Round Selection Daniel Orton

Photo by Mark Cornelison

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have signed first round draft selection Daniel Orton, General Manager Otis Smith announced. Orton was the 29th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Orton (6’10”, 255, 8/6/90) played in all 38 games during his freshman season at the University of Kentucky, averaging 3.4 ppg., 3.3 rpg. and 1.39 blkpg. in 13.4 minpg.  He helped the Wildcats reach the Elite Eight during the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Orton recorded 16 games with two-or-more blocked shots, including four games with four rejections, the last time on Mar. 7 vs. Florida.  He netted a season-high 14 points on Nov. 21 vs. Rider.  Orton attended Bishop McGuiness High School in Oklahoma City, OK and participated in the 2009 Jordan Brand Classic.

Orton will play for the Magic during the AirTran Airways Pro Summer League which starts Monday, July 5th, at the RDV Sportsplex.

Jul 01

Magic Basketball/Orlando Pinstriped Post: Free Agent Summit

Jul 01

Free Agent Notebook, Day 1: J.J. Redick, Amar’e Stoudemire, and More

To better make sense of the madness that is free agency, especially considering their historical ramifications within the framework of the NBA, I’m going to aggregate any facts and rumors that pertain to the Orlando Magic into a notebook-type post. The posts will be constructed daily at 12:00 PM EDT and updated throughout the day. Make sure to check back when updates are made available. I’ll post a time-stamp at the beginning of the posts to make it easier for you, the reader, to know about the latest news. I’ll make notifications on Twitter, too. As the free agent period begins to wind down and the Magic fill out their roster, the notebooks will be posted sporadically — every few days or so. I know my friend and former colleague, Ben Q. Rock, is doing a similar thing at Orlando Pinstriped Post (without the updates, I believe) so I’ll try to mix things up as much as possible to avoid redundancy.

Also, if you happen to come across any free agent or trade news related to the Magic, feel free to pass it along in the comments section and you’ll get a hat tip in the post for the scoop.

With that said, let’s get to it.

UPDATED as of 6:34 PM EDT.

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Jul 01

Welcome to 2010 Free Agency

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Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The time has come.

Jun 30

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The [Orlando] Magic could try to offer [Matt] Barnes some of their mid-level exception and split it with another player. They also could use it on another free agent in their search for another wing, such as former Magic small forward Mike Miller, Josh Howard or Travis Outlaw. Point guard Jason Williams, who backed up Nelson last season, is a free agent. Word from his camp is that he would return for the biannual exception. The Magic might be open to that. Some of the other point-guard candidates for the Magic could include Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton, C.J. Watson (restricted) and Jordan Farmar (restricted). Keyon Dooling was waived by the New Jersey Nets. Kenge Stevenson, a representative for Dooling, told the Sentinel that Dooling would welcome a Magic return after playing here from 2005-2008.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel elaborates on a possible shift of power in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat, and other teams.
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel suggests you shouldn’t believe everything you hear, read, or see concerning this summer’s free agent class.
  • Marcin Gortat is styling.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “With the exception of not winning the championship that he so desperately wanted to bring back to his native Central Florida, Vince Carter said that his return home to play for the Orlando Magic was everything that he had hoped for and more. Now, with the start of free agency just a few hours away and trade rumors typically flying around, Carter is hoping his stay in Orlando and with the Magic extends for another season. With the free-agent class never more star-studded, the Magic could make a bold move toward acquiring an elite power forward or small forward this summer. Doing so would have to come via a sign-and-trade deal and such a transaction could very well include Carter, who is about to enter the final fully guaranteed year of his contract. But Carter, who spoke from the Orlando Sports Center where he is hosting his Orlando Magic basketball camp for 250 local boys and girls, is hoping to play out his contract here with the Magic and remain near his roots in nearby Daytona Beach.”
  • Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com: “There’s no question that if Daniel Orton stayed in school longer he could have eventually ended up in the NBA Draft lottery. But after leaving school following his freshman year, the former Kentucky Wildcat finds himself as the premier Magic draft pick in the 2010 Summer League. Orton possesses a good base and legs, which make him a very strong player and phenomenal post defender, both on and off the ball. He’s an above average rebounder and a tremendous shot blocking presence. Although most first round picks usually end up being the go-to offensive player on their team’s Summer League squad, expect Orton to have a different role. While he has a nice natural touch on his right-handed jump hook, he’s still developing his offensive post game. Look for Orlando to provide ways for him to flash his strengths on the defensive end.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk analyzes J.J. Redick‘s value in free agency: “The days of mocking J.J. Redick are over, the guy has worked hard to fit his game into the NBA. He can shoot the three, defends well enough and hustles. The Magic may be where he ends up, but when the big names come off the board someone will come looking to fill out their roster with him.”
  • Ditto with Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Mock the guy all you want, but Redick has worked his way into a sound all-around player that could really destroy opponents offensively if he had the luxury of playing anything more than spot minutes. He can still be beaten defensively, but it won’t be for lack of effort, as he held his own matching up against Ray Allen in this year’s postseason.”
  • The Orlando Magic rank No. 2 in ESPN’s Ultimate Franchise Standings, up from No. 18 last year. The New Orleans Saints are the only team ahead of the Magic in the rankings.
  • Chris Broussard of ESPN Insider with his “advice” on how to improve the Magic: “Vince Carter showed during the playoffs that he’s not going to be able to carry you in the postseason, so shop him hard, as well as Jameer NelsonRashard Lewis will be hard to move because of his severely overpriced contract, but you can give it the old college try. Let’s offer Carter to New Orleans for Paul, hoping that Carter being in the last year of his deal ($17.3 million next year, team option for 2011-12) will persuade the Hornets to act. Then let’s try to move Nelson to Memphis, which is looking to upgrade at point guard, for O.J. Mayo.”
  • Looking back at a time when Shaquille O’Neal was in LeBron James’ shoes.
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “Would Paul help the Magic? Undoubtedly. That’s just as terrifying a combo as you’re going to find in the league, and the way Paul used Tyson Chandler in the pick and roll for alley-oops means that he and Howard could set the record for most alley-oops in a season. It would be an unstoppable combo. Paul’s also a better shooter than Nelson, and Nelson’s really good. Before injuries started to hit him last season, Paul was on pace for a 45-50-95 season, which is, to be honest, freaking absurd. Working with the kind of perimeter options the Magic have to create space for him would make Paul somehow more lethal than he was before. But if the Magic can’t find a package the Hornets find enticing financially or basketball-wise before Shinn’s sale is complete, they’ll probably be left without Paul, and the repercussions on a locker room that now could start tearing apart instead of drifting. Pushing for progress is a good thing. But it comes with its price if you fail.”
  • More commentary on Howard’s desire to play with Chris Paul.
  • Make sure to visit Magic Basketball tomorrow at 5:00 PM EDT, as I’ll be having an hour-long CoverItLive chat with Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post to kick off the free agent festivities.

Jun 30

Dwight Howard is Eyeing Either Chris Paul or Carlos Boozer

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Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

While those elite free agents prepare for an unmitigated frenzy set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, a certain gentle giant who’s a couple years away from any such courtship is quietly beginning to formulate a plan that he’d like management to execute. And it turns out that Dwight Howard, the most physically gifted big man in basketball, wants to team up with the most physical gifted little guy in basketball: Chris Paul.

On the eve of the most anticipated free-agent signing period since 1996, when Howard was 10 years old, the Magic center has formulated a short list of players he’d like GM Otis Smith to pursue this summer. No. 1 on the list, according to a person with close ties to Orlando management, is Hornets point guard Chris Paul. [...]

The Hornets have a point-guard-in-waiting, Darren Collison, who would mitigate the loss of Paul on the court, if not at the ticket office. Any team in the mix for Paul would have to agree to take back Emeka Okafor, scheduled to make $11.8 million next season and $53.2 million over the next for season. The last three seasons will come under a new collective bargaining agreement, in which owners are seeking to dramatically slash salaries. So the full magnitude of taking on such a contract is unknown at this point – but certainly not pleasant.

But one Western Conference executive called the scenario “plausible,” if nothing else because the Magic have shown themselves to have “deep, deep pockets,” the executive said.

To soften the blow from losing Paul, New Orleans would likely insist – and the Magic would agree – on the inclusion of Jameer Nelson in any such trade. Nelson was exposed as a liability in the Magic’s conference finals loss to the Celtics, but could bridge the gap to Collison with a cap-friendly contract that pays him $8.1 million in each of the next three seasons. The Magic have internally explored including Vince Carter in various trades they’re considering, sources say, but Carter’s $17.5 million salary next season might require a third team to get involved or force the Magic to explore another deal for him.

Another player on Howard’s short list, sources say, is Utah free agent Carlos Boozer, who would allow Howard to flourish as a defensive and rebounding force without having to handle the bulk of the scoring on the block, too. The capped-out Magic, of course, would have to acquire Boozer via a sign-and-trade arrangement. The Jazz might be enticed by Brandon Bass and free agent J.J. Redick, for starters.

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