Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 221

Jul 05

Interview with Glenn Logan of A Sea of Blue

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Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Today marks the first day of the 2010 Orlando Pro Summer League and with it comes the start of life in the pros for Orlando Magic rookie Daniel Orton, a center from the University of Kentucky that was selected with the No. 29 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. For the next five days, Orton will get a chance to showcase his skills against fellow rookies and NBA players, as well as play in front of coaches, scouts, and team personnel.

Not many Magic fans know about Orton, which is why I sought out Glenn Logan from A Sea of Blue — a site that covers Kentucky Wildcats basketball and other sports — to provide insight about him. Orton was one of five players from Kentucky to be selected in the first round of the draft, yet less is known about him compared to his teammates like John Wall and others.

Why is that? Logan will explain.

A few days ago, I was able to ask Logan a few questions about Orton and what he might be able to bring to the table for the Magic as he begins his NBA career.

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Understandably, not many people know much about Daniel Orton as a player, given that he played limited minutes at Kentucky. However, when Orton did play, what were his strengths and weaknesses on the court?

Strengths: Rebounding and post defense — Daniel Orton is a big body, and he knows how to use it inside. Orton can get deep position and really lean on smaller players. As a rebounder, he averaged 7.8% defensive and 8.2% offensive rebounds for the team in only 6.5 minutes per game.

But where Orton really excelled is in defense. Despite his limited minutes, Orton got almost 20% of the team’s blocks. DeMarcus Cousins, by way of comparison, played 3 times as many minutes and got 24% of the team’s blocks.

Weaknesses: Offense and experience — Orton was a serviceable inside player, but he managed a true shooting % of only 53%. Compare that to 58% by Cousins and 60% by Patrick Patterson, and you can see that he wasn’t a very efficient offensive player.

Orton was capable of getting deep position and displayed good but not great footwork. He has a very soft touch and good hands, and has range out to 20 feet, but he almost never shot anything other than a layup at Kentucky, because Calipari wanted him in the role of a true center. Orton does have power forward skills, and has a surprisingly good handle for a man his size.

Orton has very little experience playing high level basketball, as his 6 minutes per game will attest.

Orton does not have is explosiveness or quickness, but he is much more agile than you might suspect. He can get off the floor very well (better than Cousins), and has excellent upper and lower body strength. Orton is coachable and intelligent.

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Jul 03

There’s a Reason Why the Orlando Magic Like C.J. Watson

Jul 03

Free Agent Notebook, Day 3: Matt Barnes, C.J. Watson, 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 9:59 PM EDT.

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Jul 03

Some Brief Thoughts on Chris Paul

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Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Sam Amick of NBA FanHouse:

He’s not a free agent, and he’s certainly far from free.

But Chris Paul is possibly this: the summer’s next storyline.

It often goes that way when a rising star is stuck with a team on the decline, and the signs are strong that the fifth-year pro wants out. He means it when he says he loves New Orleans, and those who know him say it’s not his style to demand a trade in the city that adores him back, but the continuing ownership uncertainty and bleak organizational outlook are clearly an irritant to the three-time All-Star.

“(Paul’s frustration) is very real, very real,” said a source close to Paul. “He doesn’t see them putting a (championship-caliber) team together.” [...]

New Orleans already turned down aggressive proposals from Portland and New Jersey, according to sources, and FanHouse reported on talks with Orlando that were denied by general manager Otis Smith days before additional reports surfaced about his pursuit of Paul.

Paul has three years and a combined $49 million left on his contract, with the final season a player option. It is believed any hopeful suitor would have to take center Emeka Okafor back in a possible deal, thus relieving the cap- and cash-strapped Hornets of his contract worth an astounding $52.1 million over the next four years.

With free agency just a few days old, most of the attention from the mainstream media and the blogosphere has been focused on the three amigos — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. They are the crown jewels of the 2010 free agent class, and everyone is eagerly following their every move. However, there is — at his best — a top five player and the best point guard in the NBA lurking in the shadows. An enigma, in terms of his availability, among the transparent.

That person, of course, is Chris Paul.

James, Wade, and Bosh have control over their destinies and the ability to write their futures as they see it. Paul, on the other hand, does not have that power … not yet, at least. Paul is bound by the max contract extension he signed with the New Orleans Hornets in 2008 after leading a team that was one win away from reaching the Western Conference Finals. However, two years have passed since the Hornets’ memorable run and things have changed. New Orleans isn’t winning and the vultures are circling as an ownership change, which might ultimately decide Paul’s fate, is on the fritz and may not happen. Plus, Paul is becoming very vocal about wanting to win, whether it’s with the Hornets or with another team.

With reports that the Orlando Magic have inquired about Paul and Dwight Howard hoping that general manager Otis Smith can acquire the all-world point guard, free agency is becoming more interesting by the day. Magic fans are whetting their appetite whenever any relevant news about Paul’s future shows up on the internet. The idea of a player of Paul’s caliber possibly being available is a fascinating secondary narrative to the main story surrounding James, Wade, and Bosh.

The odds of Paul being traded are slim to none but as the weeks go by, it’s a story that people will continue to latch onto.

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

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