- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Compared to LeBron’s trumpeted grand plan, Shaquille O’Neal slipped away from the Orlando Magic in 1996 as if he merely had been transferred by the home office to another job in Los Angeles. Trust me, kids, Shaq’s move to the Lakers was a huge deal in Orlando — just not as noisy from beginning to end as today’s latest LeBron update and maniacal following. We’ve heard the ticking of King James’ free-agent clock for the past two seasons. But there was no crazed recruiting of Shaq by other teams and cities as there is with LeBron. No celebrities from L.A. were publicly wooing him. No lavish tours discussed. No competition outside L.A. It was Orlando’s “dried-up pond” (as Shaq so derisively called it later) vs. Hollywood. When all was said and done — and very little was said or done — the Magic had no chance against the Lakers, Shaq’s boyhood dream team. He simply signed a seven-year, $121-million contract with L.A., formally announcing the NBA’s biggest-ever free-agent move at a news conference during a little event I attended called the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Shaq’s period of free agency occurred 14 years ago, before ESPN covered everything like it was a moon launch, before 24/7 sports talk and sports blogs overwhelmed the Internet, before athletes were all a-Twitter.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel continues the retrospective look at Shaquille O’Neal, stating that the Orlando Magic are to blame for the big fella leaving in 1996: “It was a perfect storm of chaos. Most important on the list: The Magic lowballed Shaq with an offer that they faxed to him. Three years, a little less than $50 million. Meanwhile, NBA icon Jerry West showed up at Shaq’s hotel room in Atlanta with a max contract. Seven years, approaching $121 million. [...] There were other significant factors as well: Dennis Tracey, Shaq’s former teammate at LSU and personal assistant, had fallen out of the picture, leaving agent Leonard Armato as the one of the most influential voices in Shaq’s ear. Leonard was an LA guy, and pushed for Shaq to sign with Los Angeles. Sitting courtside at Lakers games in the vicinity of Nicholson certainly can improve your profile. And let’s not forget that Shaq had written in his book that he dreamed of playing for the Lakers.”
- Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “[J.J.] Redick‘s career 3-point percentage at Duke? 40.58. Redick’s 3-point percentage last season for the Magic? 40.51. Redick hasn’t left any doubt that his shooting translates to a taller, more athletic environment. Just two seasons ago, Redick couldn’t get off the Magic’s bench, but he has put in a ton of work to improve his peripheral game. He developed an off-the-dribble attack this season that’s especially effective in pick-and-roll situations. It’s a little-known fact that Redick shot more 2-pointers than 3-pointers this past season and posted the second-most-efficient season in the NBA, scoring 123 points every 100 possessions. He’s a restricted agent this summer, and don’t be surprised if a playoff team tries to snag him with the midlevel exception.”
- Adonal Foyle talks about working on the new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA.
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Redick is Allen-light, a deadly shooter with a high basketball IQ and the experience of playing on a great defensive team. This past season was Redick’s best. He earned crunch-time minutes in a lot of big games and may be ready for a starting role. But because he’s restricted, it will be tough for a team to pry him away from Orlando at a reasonable price.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk comments on Dwight Howard‘s move to join agent Dan Fegan: “Fegan did play a role in previous CBA talks, when he was the most powerful agent going, but he is not going to have that kind of pull this time around. His current client lineup is nice, but not THAT nice. The marketing angle makes less sense. Goodwin’s people got Howard a ton of endorsement, including McDonald’s and those ubiquitous T-Mobile ads. They worked to help him create a real social media platform to broaden his marketability. Bottom line, Goodwin did a very good job. Fegan may as well, he’s another powerhouse lined up with a powerhouse international firm. But it still feels like a piece of the puzzle is missing from this story.”
- Another Gilbert Arenas-to-the-Magic rumor, from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “The Magic are said to be actively considering trade scenarios that could provide Dwight Howard with a post-up power forward to play with, a play-maker to replace what Hedo Turkoglu brought to the 2009 Eastern Conference championship team, or a dynamic point guard. It would be easy enough to move Rashard Lewis to small forward and satisfy Howard’s first wish – something he feels strongly enough about to begin “heavily recruiting” free agents that fit the description, according to a source. As for the second item, if I were GM Otis Smith, I’d be exploring a Vince Carter-for-Joe Johnson sign-and-trade; what an upgrade that would be for a team that sorely missed Turkoglu in the conference finals against Boston this year. The third option is the most interesting: A person with knowledge of the Magic’s plans said a trade for Gilbert Arenas, the one-time superstar whose reputation took a massive hit with his gun suspension last season, remains a “definite possibility.” Smith has a good relationship with Arenas, but a stumbling block could be the fact that Howard has questions about whether Arenas would fit in. If Howard gets the answers he’s looking for, there could be legs to the Arenas-to-Orlando scenario.”
- In case you missed it, here’s a short list of power forwards that would make sense for Orlando given their skill-sets. I readily admit that I’m iffy about Carlos Boozer, but I threw him into the conversation for the sake of completeness.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic and PepsiCo announced today a new, multi-year relationship, making the company a ‘Champions of the Community’ partner for the new Amway Center. ‘Champions of the Community’ partners represent an elite tier of brands committed to Central Florida and the Parramore community. The fully-integrated relationship includes community programming, unparalleled team and facility access, brand recognition visibility and category exclusivity.
This Orlando Magic relationship marks another significant step for PepsiCo under the new ‘Power of One’ umbrella for the company, which brings together the Pepsi, Gatorade and Frito-Lay brands for a joint partnership. As part of its ‘Champions of the Community’ platform, PepsiCo – a partner with the Magic since 1989 – receives exclusivity in the hydration, carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, carbonated caffeine-based energy drinks and packaged salty snack foods categories in the new Amway Center.
“We are honored to have PepsiCo join the Orlando Magic as a ‘Champions of the Community’ partner for the Amway Center,” Orlando Magic Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins said. “PepsiCo has been a valued partner with the Magic since our inception in 1989, and we believe this relationship will allow PepsiCo to have a fully-integrated approach to connect their ‘Power of One’ brand with our fan base like never before.”
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The 2010 NBA Draft has come and gone, which means it’s time to focus entirely on free agency. The Orlando Magic won’t be among the primary teams vying for the services of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and others, barring a sign-and-trade that falls from the heavens. But it’s worth reviewing all the notable assets the Magic have at their disposal, as well as taking a look at what the roster looks like right now.
|Point Guard||Jameer Nelson|
|Shooting Guard||Vince Carter||J.J. Redick*|
|Small Forward||Mickael Pietrus||Stanley Robinson**|
|Power Forward||Rashard Lewis||Ryan Anderson||Brandon Bass|
|Center||Dwight Howard||Marcin Gortat||Daniel Orton|
*restricted free agent
**second round draft picks are not guaranteed contracts
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Two months after parting ways with his agent, Dwight Howard has chosen a new one – Dan Fegan, who also landed No. 1 pick John Wall this summer.
Howard, 24, is at a crossroads in his career as the [Orlando] Magic try to surround him with the right kind of talent to begin winning championships. He also won’t be a free agent until after a new – and likely owner-friendly – collective bargaining agreement is adopted. Fegan’s second significant score of the summer solidified him as “one of the most powerful agents out there,” one team executive said upon hearing of the Howard addition Sunday. Fegan also is a well-versed participant in the ongoing CBA negotiations that could dramatically affect Howard’s on-court earning potential. Unlike this summer’s crop of free agents, who can land one more massive pay day under the current CBA, Howard and other young stars face uncertainty as owners aim to take a substantial bite out of the salaries paid to the highest-earning players. [...]
But what Howard was really looking for was an out-of-the-box, full-service and long-term approach to on- and off-court marketing, according to a one of Howard’s close advisors.
To learn more about Dan Fegan, Henry Abbott of TrueHoop shadowed him on draft day and wrote an excellent profile that chronicled Fegan’s day in the life as an NBA agent.
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Heat and Bulls have morphed into ATMs, with each team dumping salaries and freeing up their rosters to make a run at multiple free agents, all with max contracts. How would you like a Heat lineup with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James? Or a Chicago lineup with Derrick Rose, James and Bosh? The Heat traded their No. 18 first-round pick and guard Daequan Cook for Oklahoma City’s No. 32 selection in the second round, adding another $3.4 million in added salary-cap space, As it stands, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers are the only two Heat players who could be under contract when the free agency period begins July 1. And they have cleared more than $45 million in salary cap space. And they have an advantage in signing Wade because of the Larry Bird Exception, which allows teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents up to the player’s maximum salary. [...] Over in Chicago, the Bulls cleared salary cap room by agreeing to trade veteran guard Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft to the Washington Wizards on draft night. Chicago now has about $30 million in salary cap space, but doesn’t have to worry about re-signing its superstar Rose. How this shakes out will obviously determine whether there will be a power shift in the league. The Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics could tumble from the top of the charts.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, with the help of salary cap expert Larry Coon, writes up a free agency and salary cap primer. Feel free to give it a read.
- Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times shares this tidbit that’s worth sharing: “The LeBron James sweepstakes will kick off in Ohio on his home turf Thursday as five teams — the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat, the Knicks, the Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers — travel there in an attempt to woo James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, an executive of one of the teams in the hunt said Saturday. But the meetings might not be much more than a formality. The executive, who did not want to be identified discussing a player who is not yet a free agent, said he had gathered from discussions with his fellow N.B.A. executives that James was strongly leaning toward joining the Bulls in tandem with another free agent, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors. “I think it’s a done deal,” the executive said. He said he thought James was going ahead with the meetings in Ohio “to be respectful to all these teams who jumped through these hoops,” a reference to the clubs, like the Knicks, who traded reasonably talented players like Jamal Crawford the last two seasons in an effort to open up as much salary-cap space as possible. But if James and Bosh are indeed going to Chicago, moves like the ones the Knicks made will have been done at least partly in vain.”
- Brett Pollakoff of NBA FanHouse chimes in on Abrams’ report.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “One of the biggest stars of college basketball past has some advice for John Wall and other NBA hotshots who were drafted Thursday night: Check your ego at the door, if you can get your big head through it. The league will knock the cool right out of you. J.J. Redick knows the feeling first-hand. [...] Redick never was blessed with Wall’s athletic gifts, but he, too, emerged as a decorated star from a big-time program at Duke. Redick also was a lottery choice, selected by the Orlando Magic at No. 11 in 2006. He came in with armfuls of awards, a dead-eye shooter’s confidence and a heaping helping of swagger. The NBA rolled its eyes and shrugged, not impressed in the least. The league has a way of humbling you, be you a Redick or a Wall.”
- More from Schmitz: “[Marcin] Gortat, making around $34 million for cameo appearances, could be part of any blockbuster deal. The Magic have been linked to Chris Paul and Luol Deng in various trade rumors, although General Manager Otis Smith again squashed any Paul dream scenario. [...] You know the Magic are serious when word from point guard Jameer Nelson‘s camp is that not even Nelson — [Dwight] Howard‘s buddy — is safe. And really, it might take another hefty deal this summer to make the Magic better than the Los Angeles Lakers or whatever team LeBron James graces with his presence. But it’s clear that the Magic are fishing, offering up anyone not named Howard and sparing no feelings in quest of a championship.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Daniel] Orton said he expected that he would go a little higher in the draft. One reason he might have fallen, in addition to his limited playing time in college, might have been a knee injury that forced him to miss much of his senior season at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School. But Orton said his knee is completely fine. Smith said Orton’s knee was not a concern because the Magic had done their research. Now, Smith expects Orton to get into the Magic weight room and work with team trainers to get into the best possible shape. Smith likes the potential he sees. He said he watched Orton play in-person twice during the 2009-10 season and liked Orton’s hands and feet.”
- More from Robbins: “Want to watch Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson play for the Orlando Magic in the Orlando Pro Summer League? Get your TVs ready. All of the games will be televised for the first time in the summer league’s history. Turner Sports publicists said each game will air live on NBA TV. Basketball fans can watch No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner and No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors make their professional debuts. Turner’s Philadelphia 76ers and Favors’ New Jersey Nets will play each other at 1 p.m. on Monday, July 5. The Magic’s summer-league team will have Orton and Robinson in its lineup when it faces the Indiana Pacers at 3 p.m. on July 5. [...] The Magic broadcasted the games live over the Internet in recent years. Team spokesman Joel Glass said the Magic have asked league officials for permission to stream the games online once again but haven’t received a response yet.“
- The bolded part means that Dante & Galante might not be broadcasting games on the internet this year, which is something they said was a possibility when I interviewed them last week.
- General manager Otis Smith denies having a conversation with the Chicago Bulls during the draft about Luol Deng.
- Is there a possible Hedo Turkoglu reunion on the horizon?
- Don’t underestimate the Magic’s ability to develop Daniel Orton as an NBA center: “Magic general manager Otis Smith said the opportunity to develop a blossoming center who didn’t have to play a primary role right away was appealing. Smith said he thinks that Orton would have been a lottery pick had he returned to Kentucky and entered next June’s NBA Draft. [...] Orton’s debut in Magic blue and black will come in two weeks when he plays with the Magic Summer League squad in Orlando. The Magic are eager to get Orton in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach Joe Rogowski to work on trimming and strengthening his body. Orton has worked out with former Magic assistant coach Bob Hill in San Francisco since declaring for the NBA Draft. ‘I’ll do whatever I have to to get on the floor, whether it’s working with strength coaches or assistant coaches or whatever,’ Orton said. ‘I know I’ll pretty much be around the facilities a lot. Staying in the gym has never been a problem for me because I’ve always been a gym rat. I just love basketball and have a passion for it, so I know that I’m going to be a great player within the next two or three years.’ ”
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie proposes nicknames for all 60 NBA rookies.
- Derrick Favors, a smaller version of Dwight Howard? Head coach Avery Johnson thinks so: “I just think he can be a smaller version from a physical and athletic standpoint to Dwight Howard, but have a better jump shot and more of a touch around the basket. I think he will be able to block shots and rebound and in time be able to move to about 16 feet. He has a left handed jump hook, a right handed jump hook, and he’s gonna be craftier. Just a smaller version of Dwight Howard once he puts on the weight.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “[Orton] just looks like an NBA center, at 6’10” and with a wide frame. He did some defensive cleaning up for the Wildcats in the paint. He was a little hard to judge because injuries and the deep front line at Kentucky meant not a lot of minutes. But he can at least be a good defending/rebounding role player.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post has some draft-related goodies that are worth salivating on — media availability with Smith, analysis on Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson, and more.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus uses his SCHOENE projection system to pump out similarity scores of the top 60 NBA prospects. Orton compares favorably to Robin Lopez and Robinson, well …
Photo by University of Kentucky
- Daniel Marks of Dime Magazine: “The [Orlando] Magic took Daniel Orton with No. 29. I think Orton can be a solid 10-15 minute rebounding and defensive specialist off the bench, but isn’t that what Marcin Gortat is for? Unless Gortat is about to be traded, this pick makes no sense for a Magic team that was on the cusp of the NBA Finals this year. Even if Gortat is traded, Orton will be relegated to backup minutes for the best center in the game like he was at Kentucky behind DeMarcus Cousins. With Matt Barnes as a free agent, and Jason Williams likely leaving a hole at backup point guard, the Magic should have taken a guy like Armon Johnson, Devin Ebanks or Terrico White instead. At the same time, the Magic may have gotten a real steal though with Stanley Robinson at No. 59 if he can stay focused. Draft Loser“
- Jeff Fox of SLAM ONLINE: “The Magic turned up winners not so much for the players they selected, but rather for the position in the Draft that they were able to get Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson at. Orton shows tons of promise, so getting him at pick No. 29 could end up being considered a steal in a few years. And Robinson has the length and athleticism that could see him making the team’s roster, which isn’t always the case with the 59th pick. Draft Winner“
- Chad Ford of ESPN Insider: “The Magic had a good draft, potentially striking gold at No. 29 and No. 59 in the draft. But Orlando has a lot of work ahead, because while both Orton and Robinson have the raw tools to succeed, they’re far from being ready to really contribute. Orton is a physical defender in the paint who dropped on draft boards because of concerns about his knees. Robinson is one of the best athletes in the draft, but his skill set is still a work in progress. I expect them both to have at least a full year in the D-League before we hear from them again. Final Grade: B-“
- Tom Ziller of NBA FanHouse: “The Magic took Daniel Orton with the No. 29 pick. Daniel Orton. No. 29. Well done, sirs. (Note: if Orton never pans out, this draft grade entry will self-destruct.) Final Grade: B“
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Not great picks, but they used them to get some potential backups for Dwight Howard. If they can do that on the cheap then this looks like a much better draft. Final Grade: C+“
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated: “Terrific picks. Daniel Orton was a big-time slider in the days before the draft. Clearly he needs coaching. Enter Stan Van Gundy, one of the best teachers in the game. He needs role models, too. Hello Dwight Howard and Patrick Ewing. Playing behind Howard and under Ewing’s tutelage should accelerate the development of a young player with tremendous physical tools. And if the Magic like what they see of Orton, Marcin Gortat suddenly becomes a trade chip. As far as Stanley Robinson — I watched most of the draft with ex-UConn star Donyell Marshall, who grumbled every time someone passed on Robinson. Marshall contends that Robinson’s game is better suited for the NBA than college. If Robinson can polish his offensive game, Marshall could be proved right. Final Grade: A“
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Orton could be a contributor at some point, but it probably won’t be with Orlando, as the Magic need to find whatever magic the Celtics worked with Kendrick Perkins back in 2004-05 (Perk’s second year) to get him on the right track. Robinson is a project as well. Final Grade: B“