- 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“
With the No. 59 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic selected 6’9” small forward Stanley Robinson from the University of Connecticut. Robinson is expected to compete for minutes with Matt Barnes, if he re-signs with the Magic, and Mickael Pietrus.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
With the No. 29 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic selected 6’10” center Daniel Orton from the University of Kentucky. Assuming the Magic intend on keeping Orton instead of trading him to another team (which seems to be the trend in tonight’s draft), he is expected to compete for minutes with Marcin Gortat at back-up center behind Dwight Howard. Or perhaps Orton could be Gortat’s replacement … that’s a distinct possibility, too.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “One of the downsides of being an elite NBA team is a poor position for the NBA Draft, but Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith is still confident that the team can improve itself from near the bottom of the first round Thursday night. The Magic select 29th overall or next-to-last in the first round by virtue of their 59-23 record this past season. Orlando had the NBA’s second-best record, trailing only the Cleveland Cavaliers and their 61-21 mark. Smith is confident that the Magic can fill a need even though they will be picking so low in the draft and basically at the mercy of the 28 teams in front of them. A few teams, such as the San Antonio Spurs, have seemed to have mastered the art of finding hidden talent with low picks and Smith is hoping to repeat that feat on Thursday.”
- With general manager Otis Smith, expect the unexpected.
- Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus for Luol Deng? Say it ain’t so.
- Jordan Crawford, draft sleeper according to Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk: “Forget the dunked-on-LeBron biz. This kid averaged 29 points per game in three contests in the NCAA tournament, and comes from pure scorer blood. He’s got good athleticism, and all of his faults are things that can be corrected with coaching and development. Crawford is a guy who if you watch him slip by you’re going to ask ‘How did we not see that kid coming?’ ”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post lambasts the rumored Gilbert Arenas/Vince Carter swap: “According to ShamSports, Arenas is owed roughly $80 million over the next four seasons. And while the Magic, in win-now mode, are willing to take on salary, they won’t do it for a player of Arenas’ caliber. Yes, Arenas is a three-time All-Star who scored 22.6 points per game last season prior to his suspension for gunplay, but he’s also inefficient, yet to prove himself fully healthy after knee surgery three years ago, and as big a defensive liability as there is in this league. Absolutely too much risk for Orlando to take on, and for a middling reward.”
- In SB Nation’s Mock Draft, the Magic select Greivis Vasquez: “Essentially, Vasquez fits the Magic’s biggest positional need–Jameer Nelson is the only point guard the Magic have under contract for next season–and has the skills to be a good fit. Sure, there are red flags, such as the turnovers, lackluster individual defense, and prior track record of tall point guards in the NBA. However, Vasquez’s ability to run an offense seems genuine, and interesting. Additionally, his willingness to take big shots could be a plus, especially with an expert coach like Stan Van Gundy on hand to help his at-times iffy shot-selection in those situations. Though I prefer Quincy Pondexter in this spot, he’s off the board. Yet Vasquez is not a terrible consolation prize. He has a chance to make a solid, immediate contribution to the Magic.”
- Doug Gotlieb of ESPN Insider guides general managers on what NOT to do on draft night: “Do not try to change a player’s position when there are far more refined prospects at the same spot. Pass on Damion James and take Quincy Pondexter. Pass on Xavier Henry and take James Anderson. Pass on Lance Stephenson and Willie Warren and take Terrico White. James is not close to being a perimeter player, Pondexter always has been. Henry is more of a shooting 3 who needs to learn guard skills, skills that Anderson already has. Stephenson and Warren are scoring combos who lack burst and shooting (Stephenson) and size and attitude (Warren), while White has played point and is a far better scoring one than the two bigger names.”
- Jordan Crawford is one of the major story lines heading into the 2010 NBA Draft: “Jordan Crawford will probably end up going late in the first round, but his name rings out like no one’s in the draft, save for Wall’s. In fact, it did before most people had ever seen Crawford play basketball. And in this business, especially when you’re trying to get noticed as a borderline prospect, and then find your way into the first round, branding is everything. The Xavier guard earned instant notoriety when he dunked on LeBron James during a pick-up game at Bron’s summer camp in 2009. Nike, or James’s people, or maybe the CIA, attempted to confiscate all recordings of this unthinkable event. The story went nuts on the internet, and was easily the greatest marketing campaign Nike never dreamt up.”
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
Here’s another installment of the Magic Basketball Mailbag.
Do you think the Magic will try to move Gortat?
The answer to the question is speculative, at best, but it should provide some insight on Marcin Gortat‘s future with the Orlando Magic.
Will Gortat be traded? It seems like everyone expects it to happen sooner rather than later, but it would have to be a move that makes sense for the Magic. Yes, Gortat’s contract will continue to escalate year-by-year but Orlando’s ownership has made it clear that they’re willing to pay the luxury tax for the foreseeable future, so money isn’t necessarily an issue in this particular case. It all depends on what’s out there on the trade block and if general manager Otis Smith is better off keeping Gortat, moving him in a packaged deal in hopes of acquiring a superstar, or trading him simply to fill a need elsewhere on the roster. With Smith, it’s tough to predict what he’ll do because he likes to play things close to the vest.