Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 228

Jul 21

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: Finding am empirical way to evaluate NBA team chemistry may seem an impossible task, but Numeranda may be onto something with its latest post (via Basketball Reference, whose own post on the subject brought this one to my attention) using Adjusted Plus-Minus statistics to evaluate the “chemistry” of a given five-man unit. […] For starters, that the Magic’s starting group last year of Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard slightly over-achieved, with a 1.06 chemistry rating. More interesting, to me, is the great extent to which replacing Barnes with Mickael Pietrus causes that lineup to under-achieve, with a staggering -9.79 rating.”
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie appreciates Rony Seikaly’s musical talents: “As you probably already know, Rony Seikaly has followed up his successful basketball career with a successful career as a DJ. It’s only natural that a 6-foot-11 center who cut his teeth in Miami would return to the party scene behind the wheels of steel. Frankly, nothing could make more sense than that. However, what you might not have known about Rony Seikaly is that he’s not just a DJ. No, he’s way more than that. Now, he’s a recording artist as well. His first single, “Come With Me”, which will be officially released by New Jersey-based Subliminal Records Aug. 3. Head over to Soundcloud to have a listen.”
  • Here’s the link to Seikaly’s new single.
  • Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: “[The Orlando Magic] look as if they’ll go into next season with the same team around center Dwight Howard. They’ll hope that another year brings them closer together and enhances their platforms of team defense and ball movement that results in dunks for Howard or three-pointers for everyone else. But each of Miami’s big three figures to win his individual matchup against this team. Will Brandon Bass play a bigger role at power forward? If so, then Rashard Lewis will revert to the small-forward spot as Orlando becomes a more conventional team than the 2009 finalist that upset James’ Cavs while playing through Hedo Turkoglu as an eccentric point guard. Vince Carter showed during the playoffs that he isn’t an elite scorer who can carry Orlando through the final two minutes. The Magic will need to apply their depth to attack relentlessly, and they’ll also need an MVP season at both ends of the floor from Howard. It’s hard to imagine them beating Miami unless Howard emerges as an unstoppable force around the basket.”
  • Thomsen is incorrect. It’s doubtful that Bass will play a bigger role with the Magic. And it makes no sense for Orlando to slide Rashard Lewis to the small forward position, unless they were to acquire a premiere power forward to make the alignment work. Right now, that player isn’t available.
  • Dwight Howard is one of 10 anti-LeBron’s? Austin Burton of Dime Magazine explains: “Orlando doesn’t have a great track record of keeping their superstars happy (Shaq, T-Mac), but they’ve rolled out the red carpet for Dwight and won’t let him get away if they can help it. As long as he’s making good money and has a solid team around him, there’s no reason to believe he’ll leave. Florida will always be a popular destination for free agents, so there’s no reason Dwight shouldn’t be the anchor of a contending team for the rest of his career.”
  • Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat need a change of scenery.
  • Can team chemistry be quantified?

Jul 21

Matt Barnes is Still Looking for a New Home

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Five teams remain in the running to sign free-agent swingman Matt Barnes, according to sources with knowledge of Barnes’ thinking.

Toronto is still one of those teams, sources told ESPN.com, despite the collapse of a sign-and-trade deal with Orlando that Barnes thought would be completed by now.

One source close to process said early Wednesday that Barnes continues to weigh interest from the Raptors along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and three title contenders he has been negotiating with since last week: the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.

One of the most coveted free agents left on the open market, Barnes announced Monday night via his Twitter feed that he was headed to Toronto.

But that deal quickly unraveled when it became apparent that the limited sign-and-trade options available to Orlando — Barnes’ last team — would not allow for the contract that Barnes was anticipating.

Jul 21

Orlando Magic Moms to Participate in Basketball Game in Orlando to Benefit the United Negro College Fund

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Mothers of Professional Basketball Players (MPBP) organization will hold its 2010 Annual Conference from August 6-8, 2010 in Orlando. As the unifying body for mothers of current and retired professional basketball players, this year’s conference signifies the first gathering since revamping the organization. With a new dedication to service and the greater good of the community, this year’s event will include a Mom’s Rookie Camp, Welcome Reception and Social. However, the main event for the weekend will be the first-ever “Hoopin’ for Health” Charity Basketball Game with the Professional Football Players Mothers Association (PFPMA) playing the Mothers of Professional Basketball Players.

With the addition of the MPBP vs. PFPMA “Hoopin’ for Health” Charity Basketball Game, both organizations have united in the mission to inspire all women of all ages to become more active and mindful of weight related illness such as heart disease. “Mothers often think our job is done once our children are grown. However, it’s after the kids are grown when life really begins. As women, we have to keep it moving, keep our hearts strong and stay active no matter our age,” stated Flo Allen-Hopson, Mothers of Professional Basketball Players Association Member & Mother of Boston Celtics Player Ray Allen. […]

Led by Coaches Lucille O’Neal (mother of Shaquille O’Neal) and Marie Jackson (mother of retired player & current ABC commentator Mark Jackson), the MPBP team will feature Cheryl Howard (Dwight Howard), Juanita Brown (Rashard Lewis), Robin Paul (Chris Paul), Flo Allen Hopson (Ray Allen), Vanessa Hughes (Larry Hughes) and Lisa Randolph (Anthony Hughes) and more.  Players on the PFPMA team will include Char McNabb (Donovan McNabb), Cheryl Foster (Deshaun Foster), Chris Johnson (Larry Johnson), Sirreta Williams (Laveranues Coles), Nancy Jones (Dhani Jones) and more. The game will also feature commentator Jerome Bettis.

Jul 20

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “For the moment at least, Matt Barnes remains a free agent. As we’ve noted before, the Orlando Magic and the Toronto Raptors cannot execute a sign-and-trade deal that would pay Barnes a first-year salary anywhere close to $4.5 million. On their own, the Raptors don’t have the cap room and no longer have their midlevel exception. The Magic don’t have the cap room either, and their non-Bird exception for Barnes would pay Barnes just $1.92 million for a first-year salary. […] The Raptors and Magic can continue to talk about a sign-and-trade deal, but they just can’t get around the fact that Orlando can only offer Barnes $1.92 million. Officials from the Raptors and Magic are not commenting.”
  • Matt Barnes has some kind words for Magic fans: “Orlando fans are amazing, just absolutely amazing. They’ll always have a special place in my heart. They really accepted me and my family with open arms right from the jump, especially being someone that came in not to replace Hedo, someone who was so loved and respected by the fans, but be one of the guys that would take his spot. I really felt no bitterness and no hate or anything from the fans; I was expecting maybe a little bit.”
  • Eric Freeman of The Baseline states that the Orlando Magic are too stacked: “The Magic don’t have enough minutes for all these players, particularly in the frontcourt. It seems as if they have to trade [Marcin] Gortat and [Brandon] Bass for pennies on the dollar just to avoid locker room trouble. Likewise, if they don’t give [J.J.] Redick what he wants soon, he’ll start to wonder why Orlando matched the Bulls’ offer in the first place. I understand why the Magic want to hold onto as many good players as possible. But when they do so without figuring out a rotation that can fit in every piece they have, they’re asking for trouble. They have a loaded roster, but it might actually be too full of talent given the expectations of everyone involved.”
  • Penny Hardaway’s comeback bid is over.
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated is not a fan of the Chris Duhon signing: “With starting point guard Jameer Nelson often dinged or substantially hurt, the backup floor general for Orlando — which remains an elite Eastern Conference contender — is a vital. Duhon is a decent defender and takes care of the ball, but he hasn’t shot better than 42.1 percent in his six seasons, with a career mark of 39.3 percent. That’s not going to foster the spacing coach Stan Van Gundy prefers in his half-court sets. And with a four-year contract, it’s a long-term gamble and only a minor short-term upgrade over Jason Williams.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk wonders if Brandon Bass is a good fit or not with the Magic.
  • J.J. Redick is ready to start.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “In the coming days, Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith will consider the third-string point guard options available in free-agency, and he indicated last week that he would indeed “sit still for a week or so, let some things shake out” before making any moves. Chris Quinn is merely one possibility who merits attention, but he might be the best one. Quinn spent last season with the New Jersey Nets after the Miami Heat dumped his salary on them; he played just 223 minutes over 25 games after the trade, meaning his stock may never have been lower. But as recently as the 2008/09 season, Quinn posted solid shooting and playmaking numbers, indicating he might be a hand-in-glove fit for Orlando.”
  • Dwight Howard is “hard in the paint.”

Jul 20

Vince Carter in the Clutch

Jul 20

Brandon Bass Says Play Me or Trade Me

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Via Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse:

Brandon Bass isn’t issuing any play-me-or-trade-me demand to the Orlando Magic. He is too nice, too soft spoken to make a pronouncement like that. It’s just not his way.

This is just a gentle reminder.

“I think they’ll do the right thing, whatever is the right thing — either play me next season or send me somewhere else. That’s what I’m hoping,” Bass told FanHouse earlier this week following the Summer Groove charity game in Miami. “I won’t go through what I did last season.” […]

“I expect things to be better for me next season,” he said. “I felt like I deserved more of an opportunity than I received last season. Look at the series (against Boston when the Magic lost). I was just what was missing. I respect Coach Stan [Van Gundy] and the way he likes to play, but sometimes you have to try something different.”

It’s a shame that it’s come down to this.

Brandon Bass is a good player and usually deserves kudos for his professionalism, but he’s in no position to give an ultimatum to head coach Stan Van Gundy and demand more playing time. And will all due respect to Bass, but he was not what the Orlando Magic were missing in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The need was for another dominant scorer, preferably on the perimeter, to lessen the pressure on Howard in the post. Some people assert that Bass was one of the main reasons that the Magic beat the Celtics in Games 4 and 5. Somehow they try to use those games as examples that Bass was a difference maker, and thus got a raw deal from Van Gundy throughout the season.

Wrong.

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Jul 19

Matt Barnes’ New Contract Agreement Hits a Snag

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Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

UPDATE via Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Under the impression that he would be receiving a two-year contract in the $10 million range, [Matt] Barnes thanked [Orlando] Magic fans via his Twitter feed and said that he’ll be “playing for the Toronto Raptors” next season. […]

Yet no such deal could be assured as of midnight, raising the possibility that Barnes would have to accept new terms to sign with the Raptors or that other teams that have been chasing Barnes will get another shot at him if the deal collapses.

Since Toronto recently spent the bulk of its $5.8 million mid-level exception to sign Linas Kleiza, it doesn’t have the available funds to sign Barnes outright to a deal that starts in the neighborhood of $4 million.

The Magic, though, are prevented by salary-cap rules from starting a sign-and-trade deal for Barnes at higher than $2 million, because Orlando doesn’t have Barnes’ full Bird rights after employing him for only one season. A sign-and-trade deal would also have to span at least three years, although only the first year is required to be guaranteed.

Jul 19

Monday’s Magic Word

  • J.J. Redick: “I’d be lying to say that I don’t want to start at some point. I’m sure every NBA player feels that way. I value my role on this team, and obviously the [Orlando] Magic value my role on this team. I take a lot of pride in contributing. We won 59 games last year and were two games away from a return trip to The Finals. So, I think my focus this summer is most definitely on this coming season. I don’t know what is going to happen with Vince [Carter]. I don’t know who they’re going to bring in. [General manager] Otis [Smith] seems like he’s always got some stuff up his sleeve. Right now, I’m just focused on getting better and kind of helping the team move forward.”
  • With general manager Otis Smith and the Chris Paul rumors, never say never.
  • Click here to watch the video of Redick’s press conference, which took place today.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “During Summer League play, I spoke to a source familiar with the Magic’s thinking who said that [Stanley] Robinson is “deficient” in every part of the game that doesn’t involve athleticism, which he said would make it “tough” to play successfully under Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. There’s also the issue of fit. Robinson would thrive in an open-court system which maximizes his gifts, as he did at Connecticut, where transition opportunities accounted for nearly one-fifth of his possession usage during his senior year, and he produced 1.275 points per possession on 71.2% shooting, according to Synergy Sports Technology. But Orlando isn’t a running team. Synergy shows that the Magic ranked 23rd in transition-generated offense last season, and Tom Haberstroh of Hoopdata tells me the league average is 12.5%. Now, not to be too reductive, but if Robinson’s best asset is his ability to get out in transition, but the Magic do that only a little more than once every 10 trips, what is he to do for the other nine possessions?”
  • Is Matt Barnes going to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers?
  • Sekou Smith of the NBA’s Hang Time blog has the Magic listed at No. 2 in the Eastern Conference’s pecking order behind the Miami Heat: “We know Dwight Howard probably won’t agree with where his team has been placed in our revamped Eastern Conference food chain. But the Magic didn’t make a major personnel move this summer that assists them in their pursuit of the Florida state title hunt. Matching an offer sheet for J.J. Redick is great for continuity, but doesn’t compare to what the folks in Miami pulled off. (Though we do like the addition of Quentin Richardson in place of Matt Barnes.) The Magic will remain a power as long as Howard wears the uniform. But there were some serious flaws exposed by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Neither Vince Carter nor Rashard Lewis has proved capable of taking over games in the postseason, leaving only Howard and Jameer Nelson to serve as true game changers for Stan Van Gundy‘s bunch. The Magic never could decide what to do with Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass, two players that might have helped more against the Celtics had they been utilized sooner and more strategically. The Magic’s resolve will no doubt be fueled by doubters who assume they have been passed up by not only the Heat but also the Celtics. That’s a good thing, because they’ll need an added edge to fight for that top spot.”
  • Fran Blinebury of NBA.com: “With the Boston Celtics getting old enough to practically creak, with LeBron struggling to find the right combination of teammates and his own will in Cleveland, with the Lakers bench continuing to be a spot that makes them vulnerable, it stood to reason that the Magic believed their window to claim a championship or two or three for most of the next decade was wide open. Then Pat Riley made his move to slam that window shut on their fingers. Even in the middle of another sultry Florida summer, you can feel the chill in the Orlando air. This is the season when the Magic will move into the spanking new $380 million Amway Center and had expected to christen their homes with bubbly title talk. Now they suddenly get elbowed aside as the No. 2 team in the neighborhood. One minute Orlando is going into the season as the likely No. 1 contender it the Eastern Conference and the next everyone is wondering if they’ll have what it takes to hold off Miami to merely win the Southeast Division title.”

Jul 19

Say Hello to Advanced Statistical Plus/Minus

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Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The APBRmetrics community is always trying to find better and more effective ways to quantify a player’s value as accurately as possible. Every linear metric has its flaws, whether it’s PER, adjusted plus/minus, or whatever else, but using them all in conjunction with each other is an excellent way of lessening some of the biases that are inherent in their formulas and painting an accurate picture of how good or bad a player is. And now, courtesy of DSMok1, we have another advanced statistic that can be thrown into the pot. Say hello to advanced statistical plus/minus.

It’s important to note that this metric isn’t the end-all, be-all.

2009-2010 regular season
Dwight Howard +6.31
Vince Carter +2.10
Rashard Lewis +1.60
Matt Barnes +1.24
Jameer Nelson +1.23
Marcin Gortat +0.69
Ryan Anderson +0.34
Mickael Pietrus -0.19
J.J. Redick -0.24
Brandon Bass -0.48
Jason Williams -0.88
Anthony Johnson -1.45

Click here to see the full spreadsheet of the 2009-2010 regular season. Enjoy.

Jul 19

Will It Be Quentin Richardson or Mickael Pietrus at Small Forward?

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AP Photo/J Pat Carter

After general manager Otis Smith matched the Chicago Bulls’ offer sheet and re-signed J.J. Redick on Friday, the roster for the Orlando Magic is eerily similar to the one that lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. New additions like Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson look to carve out their niches in the Magic’s rotation, while rookies Daniel Orton and maybe Stanley Robinson hope to develop behind the scenes. Barring an unforeseen trade, one of the major storylines heading into the 2010-2011 season for Orlando will be a familiar one.

Who will start at small forward for the Magic?

Last year around this time, Matt Barnes signed as a free agent with Orlando and looked to compete for the starting small forward position with Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus, more or less, won the job at the start of the regular season because he was already familiar with head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s plays and schemes. However, many felt that Pietrus was better served coming off the bench for the Magic after he thrived in a sixth man role in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. As a few months passed, Barnes was inserted into the starting lineup because he, among other things, complemented the four All-Stars much better than Pietrus did and things took off for Orlando.

Replace Barnes with Richardson and you have a similar story heading into training camp for the Magic like last off-season. Richardson signed with Orlando because he was going to get a chance to start at small forward.

Should Richardson start?

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