Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 87

Aug 15

Magic re-sign Ish Smith

Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have re-signed free agent guard Ish Smith, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

Smith (#10, 6’0”, 175, 7/5/88) played in 26 combined games last season with both Golden State and Orlando, averaging 2.8 ppg., 1.6 apg. and 1.3 rpg. in 9.0 mpg. He played in six games with the Warriors, averaging 4.5 ppg., 1.5 rpg. and 1.5 apg. in 10.5 mpg., before being waived on Jan. 13. Smith was signed as a free agent by Orlando on Feb. 2. In 20 outings with the Magic, he averaged 2.3 ppg., 1.6 apg. and 1.3 rpg. in 8.6 mpg. Smith also played in one playoff game (May 2), tallying one rebound and one blocked shot in five minutes.

Aug 10

Dwight Howard traded to Lakers

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have acquired six players and five future draft picks in a four-team, 12-player trade, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

Orlando acquired guard Aaron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver, forward Maurice Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia, as well as forward Josh McRoberts and guard/forward Christian Eyenga from the Los Angeles Lakers.

In addition, the Magic have also acquired five additional draft picks over the next five years. Orlando receives: a second round pick from Denver in 2013, a first round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second round pick from the L.A. Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first round pick from the L.A. Lakers in 2017.

The Magic have traded center Dwight Howard, guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark to the L.A. Lakers, while sending guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia. As part of the deal, Philadelphia has acquired center Andrew Bynum, while Denver has acquired guard/forward Andre Iguodala.

“A primary goal for our basketball team is to achieve sustainability while maintaining a long-term vision. We feel this deal puts us in a position to begin building in that direction,” said Hennigan. “In addition to the six players joining our team, we will be in a position to maximize our salary cap flexibility in the near future, as well as utilize the multiple draft picks we have acquired going forward.”

“Dwight Howard accomplished tremendous success on and off the court during his eight years in Orlando,” said Hennigan. “We wish him, Chris (Duhon), Earl (Clark) and Jason (Richardson) all the best in the future.”

Aug 09

Magic sign Kyle O’Quinn

Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have signed rookie forward Kyle O’Quinn, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

O’Quinn was selected in the second round (49th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft. He averaged 8.8 ppg. and 6.2 rpg. in 21.4 mpg. during last month’s AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League.

O’Quinn (#9, 6’10”, 240, 3/26/90) appeared in 129 career games at Norfolk State University, averaging 12.5 ppg., 8.5 rpg. and 2.2 bpg. in 27.3 mpg. and shot .553 (610-1,104) from the field during his collegiate career. He was the 2012 Lou Henson recipient as the nation’s top mid-major player. O’Quinn was the 2011-12 MEAC Player of the Year and a two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year (2010-11, 2011-12). He was also named MVP of the 2012 Portsmouth Invitational, averaging 11.7 ppg., 11.7 rpg. and 3.7 bpg. in three games.

Aug 08

Jacque Vaughn represents low-risk and high-reward

Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

I must admit that I do not know a lot about Jacque Vaughn, Stan Van Gundy’s recently appointed successor as head coach of the Magic. This works both in his favor and against him when evaluating the decision.

On the one hand, he has no real track record of success, and therefore his aptitude as an NBA head coach is hard to set in stone. On the other hand, however, there are no obvious red flags or any real arguments against him other than a lack of experience. And for a team that is (probably) soon to plunge into the depths of a rebuild, a coach with a clean slate makes sense.

Vaughn possesses the one quality that seems forever at the top of many teams’ lists when hiring coaches or front-office executives: tenure in the San Antonio Spurs organization. It’s easy to see why this résumé point is appealing: the Spurs seem to be forever a factory of contention, both in player evaluation and draft acumen, and Gregg Popovich’s ability to turn seemingly any scrub into a valuable on-court contributor.

In his introductory press conference last week, Vaughn spoke glowingly of his time studying under Popovich, and for a novice coach, it’s hard to do better as a mentor. However, praising the hire by saying, “He’ll be fine, he comes from the Spurs’ system” is just as lazy and reductive as slamming it because of his lack of experience. He will have to make his own name as a coach now that he’s been given the reins of his own team.

It will be hard to truly evaluate how good the fit is until we have a clearer picture of what the team’s roster will look like come training camp. This, of course, means addressing the elephant in the room.

Vaughn took a few barely-concealed shots at Dwight Howard during his press conference, being careful to include in his list of traits he looks for out of his players is that they want to play in Orlando. This would seem to suggest that, should Howard begin the 2012-13 season in a Magic uniform, Vaughn’s patience for his now-infamous diva act will be low.

The good news for Vaughn, however, is that he’ll be given a pretty wide berth when it comes to criticism from the media. If the Magic struggle out of the gate with Howard in the fold, it will be hard to blame Vaughn for doing what he can with a superstar desperately wanting out. His real tenure as the Magic’s coach won’t begin until Howard is traded and he’s given a new, fresh roster.

Vaughn’s hire is a risk because of his lack of experience, but the Magic are a team that can afford to take this kind of gamble. They’re in the midst of a long, drawn-out battle with their most iconic player in two decades that has sunk them from perennial contender to also-ran, but also liberated them from any kind of expectations.

I think Vaughn will be good — he has the right people (Popovich and Bruce Bowen) singing his praises, and he’s already won the respect of Magic players including Glen Davis.

When taking a risk on an unknown, an ex-player with a high basketball IQ is a good direction to go in. It’s frustrating that he won’t be able to begin his tenure in earnest until Howard’s situation is sorted out, but for now, the Magic seem to be in good hands.

Aug 02

Ryan Anderson: A sad farewell

Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images

Since its inception, the Most Improved Player award has gone to an Orlando Magic player five times in 27 years. If you include Gilbert Arenas, who earned the award in 2003 while he was in Golden State, 22 percent of the Most Improved Player award winners since 1985 are Magic players — a sort of cosmic and longstanding joke to the Magic faithful who have yet to win a championship. Good job, fellas. Keep it up. You’re improving. Some day, guys. Some day.

If you’re like me, you operate under the assumption that sportswriters voting for awards has almost nothing to do with statistics, and everything to do with narrative popularity and social context. This was seen most clearly in the 2011 MVP voting where (somehow) Derrick Rose took home the award over the likes of LeBron James and the then-beloved Dwight Howard.

We can only assume an award as superfluous as Most Improved Player, an award being voted on by the same cast of writers triumphantly chanting “we love drama,” will at best be as unfounded and inane as the coveted MVP award. After all, these writers are only human, and statistics are just a silly, insignificant game played by smarty-pants blog junkies who have no concept of how the game is meant to be played.

The pragmatist in me wants to write off this award completely, to discard it the same way I trash Academy Award winners for Best Supporting Actress for their role in a miserably unwatchable art film.

But never mind the meaninglessness of the award. Never mind the fallen system these writers use to determine who in fact “improved the most.” Forget the fact that the system itself is an exercise in arbitrary futility. This year, even if it was by accident, when they named Ryan Anderson the Most Improved Player in the league, they got it right. And with one swift move that sent Anderson to New Orleans in exchange for Gustavo Ayon in a sign-and-trade, the Orlando Magic once again got it wrong — but that’s another topic altogether.

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Aug 01

Orlando Magic’s 2012-13 preseason schedule released

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic will open the 2012 preseason in Mexico City, Mexico on Sunday, October 7 against New Orleans. Orlando then hosts its first preseason game on Thursday, October 11 vs. Philadelphia. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

The Magic will play a total of eight preseason games, including four at Amway Center. The other three games are Friday, October 19 vs. Indiana, Sunday, October 21 vs. San Antonio and Friday, October 26 vs. Houston.

Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights for the 2012-13 season in the Amway Center, named SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Sports Facility of the Year, include: 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, 8,000 seats priced $40 or less and 10,000 seats priced $50 or under. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting orlandomagic.com.

Orlando opens training camp on October 1 at the Amway Center. The Magic’s complete schedule is available through their official website: orlandomagic.com. All local telecasts will be available in high definition on FOX Sports Florida. Orlando opens its regular season on Friday, November 2 at home against Denver (7 p.m.).

Click here for the 2012-13 preseason schedule.

Aug 01

3-on-3 roundtable: Getting to know Jacque Vaughn

Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

On Saturday, the Orlando Magic announced the hiring of Jacque Vaughn as their new head coach, thus officially closing the door on the Stan Van Gundy era after five years.

Prior to his hiring, Vaughn served as the assistant coach under head coach Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs for two seasons in 2011 and 2012. And prior to that, Vaughn played 12 seasons in the NBA mostly as a back-up point guard, winning a championship with the the Spurs in 2007 while backing up Tony Parker.

This will be Vaughn’s first head coaching gig in the league.

With Vaughn’s hiring, it’s clear at this point that the Magic are fully committed to trying to emulate the Oklahoma City and San Antonio model of building an NBA franchise. More specifically, it’s more than obvious that Orlando wants to achieve the same level of long-term success and sustainability, as a small market team, that the Spurs have achieved and that the Thunder are well on their way of achieving — with the added benefit of having one of the best, if not the best, arena in the league, an ownership willing to spend, and a city that’s historically drawn high-profile free agents in the past.

Will Vaughn be the head coach to help the Magic reach their goals?

That question remains to be answered. What can be answered are questions related to the hiring of Vaughn. The trio of Graydon Gordian, Andrew McNeill, and Tim Varner from the TrueHoop Network’s sister site, 48 Minutes of Hell (a Spurs-based blog), share their knowledge of Vaughn and project his future as Orlando’s newest head coach.

What type of head coach will Jacque Vaughn be?

Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: While beloved by Popovich, I don’t expect Vaughn to emulate his acerbic, demanding style. Vaughn’s experience in the NBA will more likely make him a “player’s coach,” as they say. Given the tension between certain members of the Magic and Stan Van Gundy, Vaughn’s more amicable, understated demeanor might be a breathe of fresh air. 

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: It’s hard to tell based on his behind-the-bench role with the Spurs the last two seasons, but after coaching the Spurs’ Vegas Summer League team I get the impression Vaughn is a “player’s coach.” Vaughn relates to younger players well because of his experience with both the on-court and off-court parts of the NBA. He can surround himself with an X’s & O’s-type of assistant coach and really succeed.

Tim Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Vaughn is only a partial Popovich disciple — he also played for Jerry Sloan (among others). Above all else, Popovich values intelligence. Vaughn, who writes poetry and has a knack for relating to players, is said to have a surplus of smarts. 

What will be Vaughn’s offensive philosophy?

Gordian: It’s tough to say exactly, but if he truly is a disciple of Popovich, the offense in Orlando might not change dramatically. Although they go about doing so in slightly different ways, both Van Gundy and Popovich focus on scoring at the rim and from beyond the three-point line. Vaughn will likely look to have his guys in Orlando doing the same.

McNeill: Again, tough to say. With the Spurs, Vaughn’s role was as a behind-the-bench assistant, so his impact was limited on a game-by-game  basis. I would expect him to take a look at what he has in Orlando and tailor whatever system he wants to implement to those players. Simply trying to force “your system” on whatever players a roster has when you arrive is a recipe for a flop.

Varner: Given his background, I expect Vaughn to feature an endless amount of pick-and-rolls. One wonders if his recent seasons with the Spurs means he will push the pace, but Vaughn is so young it’s hard to know much more about him other than he’s earned his shot.

What will be Vaughn’s defensive philosophy?

Gordian: As long as Dwight Howard is on the Orlando Magic, it allows for aggressive closeouts and even a bit of gambling on the part of perimeter defenders. But as far as specific wrinkles the defense will utilize, Vaughn wasn’t involved enough in the crafting of San Antonio’s defense to predict his philosophy with much accuracy.

McNeill: Funnel anyone and anything to Dwight Howard. That’d be my guess. In the event that Howard gets traded, well, I would think his new defensive system would involve prayer.

Varner: I haven’t the first clue. Curiosity runs high. 

Jul 28

Jacque Vaughn named Magic head coach

Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Jacque Vaughn, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs and was a member of their 2006-07 NBA World Championship team as a player, has been named head coach, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Vaughn becomes the tenth head coach in franchise history.

“We are beyond excited to name Jacque Vaughn as our head coach,” Hennigan said. “As we navigated through our coaching search, we quickly saw that Jacque’s spirit and leadership strengths made him the clear choice. We are confident that his diligence, attention to detail and communication style will help establish the bedrock of our culture moving forward. His commitment and passion to building a sustainable program will help steer our organization for years to come.”

During Vaughn’s two seasons on San Antonio’s staff, the Spurs compiled a regular season record of 111-37 (.750).

Jul 26

Orlando Magic’s 2012-13 regular season schedule released

Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The National Basketball Association today released its 2012-13 schedule and announced the Orlando Magic will open its 24th season on Friday, November 2 at the Amway Center against Denver. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights for the 2012-13 season in the Amway Center, named SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Sports Facility of the Year, include: 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, 8,000 seats priced $40 or less and 10,000 seats priced $50 or under. Single-game tickets for the first half of the regular season will go on sale on October 1 at 10 a.m. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting orlandomagic.com.

Orlando opens training camp on October 1 at the Amway Center. The Magic’s complete schedule is available through their official website, orlandomagic.com, while the entire NBA schedule can be found at NBA.com.

For the first time in team history, all Magic games will be televised locally on one channel. All local telecasts will be available in high definition on FOX Sports Florida.

Each NBA team will play an 82-game regular season: 41 home and 41 away.The Magic will play 52 games vs. the Eastern Conference (18 games vs. the Atlantic Division, 18 games vs. the Central Division and 16 games vs. the Southeast Division) and 30 games against the Western Conference (10 games each vs. the Northwest Division, the Southwest Division and the Pacific Division).

Orlando will play a total of 22 home games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this season. The 2012-13 Magic schedule also features 13 back-to-back contests (26 games played on consecutive nights).

The Magic will play 15 games in November (9 home, 6 away), 16 games in December (8 home, 8 away), including a day game on New Year’s Eve at home against Miami (5 p.m.), 14 games in January (7 home, 7 away), 13 games in February (6 home, 7 away), 16 games in March (8 home, 8 away) and eight games in April (3 home, 5 away).

The Magic will enjoy a season-long five-game homestand from November 21-30 (five games in 10 days). Orlando faces three season-long five-game road trips which take place December 2-9 (five games in eight days), January 28-February 4 (five games in eight days) and March 30-April 7 (five games in nine days).

Orlando closes the season on Wednesday, April 17 at Miami.

Click here for the 2012-13 schedule.

Jul 25

Gustavo Ayon’s pick-and-roll abilities

You can forgive Magic fans if they don’t know much about Gustavo Ayon.

When the Orlando Magic executed a sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Hornets to acquire Ayon in exchange for Ryan Anderson, a lot of people within the Magic fanbase were asking themselves, “who?” That was to be expected.

While Anderson was raising his national profile around NBA circles with his “breakout” year last season, Ayon quietly had a solid rookie season with the Hornets. You just didn’t really hear about it because Anderson was a part of a seemingly never-ending soap opera with the Magic that garnered constant headlines and attention (courtesy of Dwight Howard, Stan Van Gundy, and company), while Ayon was a part of a bad New Orleans team that wasn’t in the news much apart from a fleeting Chris Paul reference.

So who is Ayon and how can he help Orlando?

One of Ayon’s strengths as a player is his ability to be an effective pick-and-roll big man. Even though it remains to be seen what the offensive philosophy will be when the Magic eventually hire their new head coach, considering the personnel on the roster, you have to figure Orlando won’t stray too far from Van Gundy’s pick-and-roll heavy offense in recent years, even if Dwight is eventually traded because of guys like Glen Davis, Andrew Nicholson, and Kyle O’Quinn. Assuming that’s the case, Ayon should be a good fit with the Magic.

Last season with the Hornets, Ayon averaged 1.17 points per possession as the roll man in pick-and-rolls in 53 possessions (19th in the NBA). Ayon did a majority of his damage at the rim, but he didn’t hesitate popping out for the occasional midrange jumpshot either.

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On this possession, New Orleans executes a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Jarrett Jack and Ayon. Ayon sets the screen, then pops out free-throw line extended.

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