- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The [Orlando] Magic‘s roster indeed needs some filling out, especially at point guard. Jameer Nelson‘s backups, Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson, are aging free agents. Williams hasn’t ruled out returning even as the third point guard/mentor, but the Magic need to get younger and, ahem, taller. [Otis] Smith isn’t committed to drafting a trainee, adding, “I think you always take the best guy available. I don’t think you can go in saying ‘point guard’ and pass on a better guy.” Interestingly, of the six players who worked out for the Magic on Monday, only Greivis Vasquez, 6 feet 6, formerly of Maryland, is a true point guard. Vasquez has size, but isn’t a great on-the-ball defender, which is what the Magic desperately need. That doesn’t mean Smith hasn’t had his eye on, say, point guards Terrico White and Mikhail Torrance, both 6-5.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Magic can’t snag much help with the 29th overall selection. But there are other options. Do they make a run at point guard Chris Paul? What about beefing up the power forward slot with Carlos Boozer? Is anyone out there willing to take on Vince Carter‘s $17.3 million contract for a year? All these shifting variables will determine where the Magic stand a year from now, and whether they are strong enough to stop the three-peat run by the Los Angeles Lakers. The most important time of the year is now. It’s all about the ingredients in the kitchen, and what you can brew up to win an NBA championship. The Magic are in a tough spot because that 4-1 offense with Dwight Howard inside and four guys on the perimeter has combined to win 118 regular-season games over the last two seasons. But it also matches up poorly against teams with bigger lineups, as playoff losses to the Lakers in ’09 and the Boston Celtics this season proved. Going to a more conventional lineup is a huge philosophical shift for this team. But assuming that’s the plan, who do you roll with at the power forward slot? Boozer and David Lee of the New York Knicks are the two most coveted ‘gets’ on the Magic fans wish list but there’s also the thought that the Magic already have a big man who can fit the bill — Brandon Bass. All of us get to play amateur GMs, but only Smith has the power to make a deal.”
- George Shinn, owner of the New Orleans Hornets, wants to build around Chris Paul.
- CP3 is open to a trade, however, as long as he gets a chance to win: “My first choice is to be in New Orleans. I just want to make sure we’re committed to winning. If we’re not committed to winning and trying to get better so we can contend with the Lakers, the Celtics and all these other top teams, then I’m open to being traded. [...] I’m fine with staying in New Orleans, but I want to make sure we’re committed to winning. I don’t want to rebuild. I want to win now. It’s nothing personal against the city. I love that city. But my biggest thing is winning.”
- Rashard Lewis is down with OPP.
- Devin Ebanks and Andy Rautins, two draft prospects that worked out with the Orlando Magic earlier in the week, are considered “hidden gems” according to Ryen Russillo of ESPN Insider. Here’s what Russillo had to say about Rautins: “[He] is one of the few pure shooters in this draft. He is great off the catch, uses screens well to get an open look and has a quick release. Rautins will have a defined role from day one in the NBA: come off the bench and hit shots. At 6-5, he is big and athletic enough to play shooting guard. His handle is good, and he already has NBA range. Rautins will have to understand a good shot in the pros versus a good shot in college. If he goes undrafted, I’ll be shocked.”
- Jordan Schultz of NBA FanHouse writes an excellent story on Quincy Pondexter, a possible Magic draftee: “Defensively, I think he may be the best wing defender on the West Coast, in that he uses his length very well both on the ball, when he harasses the opposition, as well as in the passing lanes, where many of his open-court steals lead to easy baskets. His ability to guard up to three NBA positions boosts his value. It is a rare blend of tools for a 6-7 wing laterally fluid enough to guard twos and threes, yet strong and athletic enough to defend fours. It is perhaps even more relevant than his improved offensive repertoire. [...] He hasn’t developed the range on his NBA three yet, but given his vast mid-range improvements since his freshman season, teams should see he is willing to put in the work. At this juncture, his scoring prowess (19.3 points) is best served from the 18-foot mark and in, where he mixes his pull-ups with dribble-drive and posting.”
- Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference takes a look at how draft choices perform by pick number.
- Sam Amick of NBA FanHouse: “It’s no surprise the Orlando Magic are looking to upgrade their roster. Center Dwight Howard is the type of dynamic, unique talent that sparks championship visions, yet the group that won the Eastern Conference championship in 2009 watched the NBA Finals from home this time around after being beaten by Boston in six games for the latest Eastern Conference crown. And if their latest trade inquiry is any indication, Orlando is looking to upgrade its point guard position. According to a league source, the Magic are among the teams that recently inquired about New Orleans point guard Chris Paul. While it’s not known what the Magic would be willing to offer, the mere inquiry is a reflection of the organizational thinking as they move forward with Howard as the centerpiece and Jameer Nelson running the show.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith said this afternoon that the Magic have not inquired about Chris Paul’s availability in a potential trade with the New Orleans Hornets. Early Tuesday, the website FanHouse, citing an unnamed league source, reported that the Magic were among a group of teams that had asked about Paul. Asked minutes ago by the Orlando Sentinel whether the Magic made such an inquiry, Smith answered flatly, ‘Nope.’ ”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “The Orlando Magic’s preliminary inquiry into the availability of point guard Chris Paul involved a discussion that included a trade of both starting guards Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson to New Orleans. The Magic, as part of the early discussion, would receive both Paul and small forward James Posey, according to a second NBA source that confirmed the original FanHouse story by Sam Amick involving the two teams. Although Paul clearly is the best player in the talks, the Hornets are interested in reducing future salary obligations. The team is in the midst of an ownership sale/transfer that has been stalled by the debt obligations that the new owner would incur. [...] Although Carter is past his prime, he is attractive because he has only one year remaining on his contract, worth $17.7 million. It would allow the Hornets to drop below the salary cap next summer. Nelson, an All-Star point guard two seasons ago, has three years remaining at $6.7, $7.3 and $7.8 million, making less than half of Paul’s salary.”
- To clarify, the three previous links are in chronological order.
- Is the Jameer Nelson debate worth discussing?
- Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “It’s hard to imagine the Hornets agreeing to move their franchise star for much, if anything, short of an All-Star, a starter and a high draft pick.”
- On the other hand, Gilbert Arenas would be a poor fit for the Orlando Magic according to George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Beyond money matters, there are other issues to consider that would make me very, very hesitant to pull off this deal. Arenas isn’t a true off-guard. There are a lot of good things to like about him: He can create shots, is a sound perimeter threat, and can drive to the basket. But he needs the ball in his hands to create shots. It would be impossible for him to co-exist with Jameer Nelson. And ditching Nelson would be a one heck of a risky makeover for a team that has been in the Final Four mix the last two NBA seasons. So why does some speculation persist? Smith and Arenas go back to their days at Golden State in the early 2000s. Smith worked in the Warriors’ front office as executive director of basketball operations and Arenas was the team’s second-round pick. When Arenas was arrested on a gun felony charge earlier this season, Smith reached out to offer guidance.”
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline projects that the Magic will select Armon Johnson, a point guard from Nevada, with the No. 29 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. It doesn’t appear, however, that Johnson would be a good fit, given that he shot 23.9 percent from three-point range this season.
- Tzvi Twersky of SLAM ONLINE with a must-read profile on Jason Williams: “In one of the most memorable crosses ever, Williams, a rookie, went between his legs and followed it with a swift switching of the ball from left to right near the three-point line, losing Gary “The Glove” Payton, arguably the best defensive guard in the League at the time, before finishing high off the glass over a 6-9 Detlef Schrempf. Dwight Howard was 12 years old when Williams, his current teammate, was selected seventh overall in the ’98 Draft, and just 13 when Jason shook Payton. [...] Webber played with a 23-year-old Williams. Howard plays with the 34-year-old version. Hubie Brown coached him in between, when Williams was in his late 20s. Over the course of their time together with the Grizzlies, Brown came to understand his point guard in a way few others did. Where most saw “White Chocolate,” a dazzling dribbler and passer, the coach saw a cerebral player who simply loved the game.”
- J.J. Redick is ranked 20th on Chris Mannix’s free agent list at Sports Illustrated.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk provides his thoughts on the Chris Paul-to-Orlando rumor: “This shows Orlando is thinking the Jameer Nelson/Dwight Howard combo many not be the answer, and if they have to make changes it is not Howard that has to go. Point guard was actually the weakest position statistically on the Magic last year, for example look at PER generated and PER against (not a perfect measure, but one that gives you some idea). Jason Williams coming off the bench was part of that issue, but it was also with Nelson. Nelson was just a +1.5 per 48 minutes on the court this season, a number well below Howard (+10.8) or even Vince Carter (+6.9). Simply, the Magic were not that much better than their opponents with the shoot-first point guard Nelson at the helm. [...] This may have been just a one-time shot in the dark to ask about Paul. Or, it may be part of a plan we see unfold over the summer.”
- Would Greivis Vasquez be a worthy first round draft pick for the Magic? Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post thinks so: “Vasquez would indeed be a risky pick, especially considering the dubious history of just about every tall point guard to enter the league since Johnson; the closest anyone’s come to succeeding is Shaun Livingston, who’s had to reinvent himself as a floor-bound distributor after a horrific knee injury robbed him of his athleticism and set him back three years. Incidentally, Livingston will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and might be worth a look. In any case, this closer look at Vasquez has certainly piqued me interest, and he might make sense for the Magic if he’s around when they’re on the clock, and depending on who else is available. By the looks of things, the Magic are strongly leaning toward drafting a wing player instead. But if they go with a point guard so late in the first round, they could do far worse than to select Vasquez, whose offensive strengths blend nicely with the Magic’s.”
- Chad Ford of ESPN Insider thinks Orlando could select Darington Hobson in the draft: “The Magic haven’t worked out many players. Each year they pick a small handful of prospects they like and then grab from there. Of the group they’ve had in, Crawford and Ebanks are off the board. Of the group left, Hobson makes a lot of sense. His playmaking ability and versatility remind some scouts of Turkoglu. The Magic missed that this season.”
- Fran Fraschilla of ESPN Insider categorizes a number of prospects that can fill niches in the NBA — shooters, energy guys, and big men. For example, Quincy Pondexter is an energy guy: “This is another one of those guys without a true NBA position, but he does enough of the little things well that he’ll have a steady job in the league for a while. He gets offensive rebounds at a high rate, gets himself to the foul line often and plays mistake-free basketball. He’ll be a nice fit for a playoff-level team at the bottom of the first round.”
- Mark Schlueb of the Orlando Sentinel: “Though some commissioners predicted it would discourage people from visiting downtown Orlando, a split City Council voted today to double to $20 the parking rate for Orlando Magic games, concerts and other events at the two garages closest to the new publicly funded Amway Center. It’s the second time in less than two years the council has doubled the “event rate.” Last time, the city raised the cost of parking in most of its garages from $5 to $10 during special events. This time, the increase affects only the two garages that are most convenient to the new Amway Center: the new South Street Garage, which is connected to the arena by a pedestrian bridge, and the Church Street Garage across the street. They’ll both cost $20 when the arena opens in October. Other garages and surface lots that are farther away but still within walking distance — including lots underneath I-4 overpasses — will remain at $10 during Magic games and other events.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel catches up with Ryan Blake, scouting director for the NBA, and asks him about Jordan Crawford: “The guy’s a great athlete. He’s an explosive jumper and finisher. He needed to improve his shooting ability and he did that. Once he transferred from Indiana, he had that year off. I know he got a lot of pub from the dunk over LeBron; that just doesn’t mean anything, because you’ve got to know how to play the game. But when you’re at 20 points, five rebounds and three assists and you improve to around 40 percent from beyond the arc, you can’t ignore that.”
- Six draft prospects worked out for the Orlando Magic earlier today, including Crawford, Devin Ebanks, Darington Hobson, Quincy Pondexter, Andy Rautins, and Greivis Vasquez.
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel, after writing a similar article last week, insists the Magic can’t win a championship with Rashard Lewis at power forward.
- Grant Hill, starting small forward of Dime Magazine’s ‘All-Coulda Been’ Team: “Another legit superstar who had his best years stolen by injuries. In the season before his ankle began to betray him, Hill put up 25 points, six boards and five assists per game for the Pistons and was a nightly triple-double threat. He was going to battle Kobe Bryant as the heir to Michael Jordan’s throne. Ten years later, Hill is (albeit a solid starter in the League) just making it out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time while Kobe is being fitted for his fifth championship ring.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at the latest mock drafts for the Magic.
- In a 30-draftee survey compiled by ESPN the Magazine, 35 percent of the players voted Dwight Howard as the player they’d want to dunk on the most.
- If it were up to Jameer Nelson, he’d pick Dominique Jones with the 29th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft: “You always want guys with a knack for filling up the basket, and that’s something Jones [11 25-point outings last season] can do. I’m sure we’ll be put over the edge by our pick. Once he learns the pro game, DJ is a guy who could help keep us there.”
- Dennis Tarwood of SLAM ONLINE likes Vasquez, however: “Vasquez is the most ready to play on a big stage, having been the star of the top team of the ACC and shown an ability to hit shots close-and-late. He creates his own shots and can hit from the new three-point stripe at Amway Center. He can drive and dish in a pick-and-roll offense. At 6-5, he can stand up to point guards and tangle with shooting guards. Unfortunately, this means he can easily give up shots to both groups equally well, but this is the 2010 NBA Draft. If you’re that caught up on defense from your backup from Maryland, DJ Strawberry’s available to a good home. (Which would be a first for him, sadly.)”
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
After the Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th championship in franchise history — that’s a lot — against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, one of the major storylines to emerge from the aftermath of the series was the future of the C’s. Head coach Doc Rivers dropped a bombshell, as some said, in his press conference following the Game 7 loss when he stated that he didn’t think Rasheed Wallace would play in the NBA again. Of course, that’s not all.
There’s been rampant speculation with regards to Rivers’ future with the Celtics and whether or not he will coach the team beyond this year, given that he’s openly stated that he’d like to spend more time with his family and kids in Orlando. It remains to be seen what Rivers decides to do. But one thing is for sure — assistant coach Tom Thibodeau will not be on Boston’s sidelines next season, since he will be the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
Lastly, there’s reports that Nate Robinson may not return to the Celtics next year. If this was a few months ago, when Robinson was relegated to the bench a majority of the time after he was traded by the New York Knicks, that bit of information would be nothing more than a footnote. However, after Robinson’s performance in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals and in several games during the 2010 NBA Finals, he became an important role player for Boston on the grandest stage in the league. As such, Robinson’s future with the Celtics becomes relevant news. Ray Allen will be a free agent, though he’s said many times he’d like to return to Boston.
Yes, the mainstays for the Celtics will return, like Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Kevin Garnett, but the future of the team is up in the air. It should be assumed, out of respect for what they accomplished in the 2010 NBA Playoffs, that Boston will remain a threat to win a title next year. However, it’s fair to question whether or not the Celtics have another amazing playoff run in them. This isn’t to state Boston can’t do it again, though.
So, what does this all mean for the Orlando Magic?
Given the state of the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, too, the Magic have a chance to regain supremacy in the Eastern Conference and take the steps needed to win a championship. There are things working in Orlando’s favor, and they need to take advantage of them while they still can.
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Quick disclaimer: I love Orlando’s style of play. It’s an energetic, fast-paced, shoot ‘em up style that has made them one of the elite teams in the NBA. But they are not the best of the best. The Los Angeles and the Boston Celtics are better because they are more physical and they are bigger. The Celtics proved that over the course of a best-of-seven series, they could take away Orlando’s outstanding perimeter game by playing Dwight Howard without any help defense. [...] I don’t see Matt Barnes — their toughest defender outside of Dwight Howard — coming back. That will hurt. Otis Smith, the GM with great poker face, needs to work his magic one more time and figure out how to upgrade this team. I think Rashard Lewis – untradable contract in case you forgot — would be a better fit at small forward, leaving a slot open for a more physical power forward.”
- Contrary to popular belief, the Orlando Magic aren’t a fast-paced team. During the regular season, the Magic ranked 18th in pace.
- These are the seven things Orlando isn’t doing during the off-season.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “[...] for Orlando Magic fans, the most interesting question is whether Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers will return. To be fair, it’s one that guys like Marc Stein were asking hours before tipoff, but you get the idea. After an emotional postgame news conference, Rivers walked off the podium to a standing ovation from the media, which veteran reporter Chris Mannix said he’d never seen. I say Rivers is relevant to the Magic’s fans because Orlando is where he and his family make their home, and he got his head-coaching start here. Despite his coaching the hated Celtics, I get the sense that Rivers is fairly well liked around town.”
- Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress offers his take on Fran Vazquez: The Spanish big man could start on a number of NBA teams thanks to his athleticism, shot-blocking ability and rebounding prowess. But that seems unlikely at this point, as Vazquez, Rubio’s teammate in Barcelona, is comfortable in his native country and hasn’t really been courted all that heavily by Orlando.”
- Sandy Dover of SLAM ONLINE approves of the Magic’s new logo: “As for the Magic’s logo, while I loved the personification of actual magic in the stars and stylized fonts of the older logos, changing the type face for “ORLANDO MAGIC” does make some sense for continuity purposes, especially when you’re able to see that the logo scripts match the logo’s wordmarks. I have never particularly cared for the star that the Magic have used since 1999, but that remains, and actually with the less elaborate fonts that Orlando has now installed in the insignia, the star, as is, fits. The bolder, more straightforward scripts seems genuinely more powerful and bolder, even while it’s lost a bit of snazz and uniqueness in the process.”
- In John Hollinger’s latest NBA franchise rankings, which he updates year-by-years, Orlando jumps up to the No. 9 spot: “The Magic have been the most consistently successful of the league’s early-’90s expansion teams, and have done it while showcasing several of the game’s biggest stars. Shaq, Penny, Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard would be all-timers in most franchise’s pantheons; Magic fans saw all four in a span of a dozen years. [...] with the current edition having posted consecutive 59-win seasons and made the 2009 Finals, Orlando seems well poised to move up the ladder. In fact, they already have — the Magic climbed six rungs since we did this exercise a year ago.”
- Final 2009-2010 power rankings, brought to you by Basketball-Reference.
- Nate Robinson to Orlando? A slim possibility, according to ESPN’s Rumor Central: “For as infuriating as he can be at times, Robinson’s energy off the bench is something other teams will covet. And with plenty of money to be given out this summer, Robinson will likely find a landing spot. Don’t expect him to return to the Knicks, though. One team that could bite on Robinson? Maybe Orlando, a team that could have a backup point guard void if they don’t re-sign Jason Williams or Anthony Johnson. But the Magic will be over the cap, so this seems unlikely.”
- This isn’t the first time that Robinson’s name and the Magic have been linked together.