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Around the NBA: Magic Making Moves, But Will They Work?

Can the Orlando Magic pull a title out of this team? In a word; No.  In several words, the Magic made two major moves over the weekend.  They swapped Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas with the Washington Wizards, and they sent Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 1st round pick, and cash to the Phoenix Suns for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark.

Orlando’s rotation was Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Brandon Bass, J.J. Redick, Quentin Richardson, Mickael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat, that got them a 16-10 record, including losses in 5 of their last 6.

Now the Magic will look like this: Howard, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, Nelson, Bass, Redick, Richardson, and big man x (Earl Clark, Malik Allen, Ryan Anderson, Daniel Orton, FA, etc.)

Orlando has become much smaller which is a bit of a head scratcher if you still consider the Lakers and Celtics as the main competition for a title this year.  Although Lewis is not a conventional big man he is 6’11 and Gortat is certainly a guy that can match up with opposing team’s big men.  They swap those guys out for more guard scoring. 

The moves may seem like panic considering the trade deadline is not for another two months, but the fact that Stan Van Gundy is all fired up, and more important Dwight Howard has become extremely upset with his team’s effort something had to be done.  Without using their names Howard essentially called out both Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis this past week.  It looked to be only a matter of time until a deal was made to break up that combo.

Were the Magic going to win an NBA title with Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis being integral parts on their team?  They did make a nice run to the Finals two years ago (without Carter) but were no match for the Lakers.  Now Vince is another year older and Lewis seems to have lost even more interest.  I’m not a huge Stan Van Gundy fan, however too often you see a situation like this and the team just cans their coach.  I don’t think he’s the problem, they did need a shake up, but who else would they have brought in to run the show?

New Magic Men- Gilbert Arenas turns just 29 next month.  He’s played well this year in a tough situation for him in Washington (17.3 points, 5.6 assists).  Arenas has been both a starter and sub this season, proving he can do whatever the Magic want.  I would start him, but my guess is he will come off the bench and run the 2nd unit.  Remember Gilbert averaged over 25 ppg in three different seasons in his career.  I believe he can still fill it up, and he plays the 1 or the 2 for you.

One criticism of the Arenas deal, he thrives with the ball in his hands.  Orlando already has Jameer Nelson and brought back Hedo Turkoglu who also controlled the ball a lot in his time with the Magic.  Don’t forget J-Rich and Dwight Howard will both expect to score 20 a night.  Could they have waited a few weeks on pulling off the Lewis-Arenas trade, see how the new nucleus plays first?  Something tells me Washington would be willing to deal Gilbert any time they could.

I am not a Hedo Turkoglu fan.  Playing with Steve Nash this season, Hedo is averaging less than 10 points a game, the fewest since his days with the Kings.  There is no denying his numbers with Orlando however.  He spent 5 years with the Magic including a 19.5-5.7-5 year in 07-08.  It’s a system that works for him, but does he have anything left in the tank?  We’ll find out soon as I expect him to be right back in the starting lineup along with Howard, Bass, Nelson, and this next guy.

Jason Richardson is a straight up scorer.  He’s at 19.3 per game this year, up from just 15.7 in 09-10.  And his 42% from 3 this season could even improve with all open looks set up by Dwight Howard.  At this stage of their careers J-Rich is a better option than Vince, I think he will fit in well.  Richardson and Arenas also played their first two years in the league together with Golden State.  They were the Warriors starting back court for 100 games back then.  (Pretty good draft by GS in 2001, Richardson #5, Arenas #30.)

Bottom line, the Magic needed to make a move, I truly believe that.  The team they had going into the weekend simply was neither good enough nor cohesive enough to win a championship.  Is this current team?  I don’t think so either, but I give them credit for taking a chance and mixin’ it up.

The Magic don’t get to ease into with their new core as they face the Atlanta Hawks tonight.

(Worst part of all the two trades for me, it screws up my NBA Jam for 360 rosters.  Vince and Lewis were on Orlando, Richardson was on the Suns, and Gilbert on the Wizards, maybe there’s an online update or something…)

Heat Check; Well Miami is 21-8 and winners of their last 12.  They close out 2010, tonight vs. the Dallas Mavericks, then at the new-look Suns, at the Lakers on Christmas, home to the Knicks, and at the Rockets.  Miami has a chance to pick up some quality wins over this upcoming stretch whereas in the past 12 it’s been mainly poor teams with the exception of the Jazz and Knicks.

You really can’t knock the Heat just because they haven’t played all playoff teams in the last dozen; the fact is they look good.  LeBron and D-Wade, although still not completely on the same page, are impossible to stop in the open court and are starting to create easy scoring for themselves and Bosh.  And Mike Miller, the best 3 point shooter on the team, is working his way back to action.  Sure the point guard and center match up will always be a disadvantage for them, but let’s face it they are going to be a tough out in the playoffs.  If the Celtics aren’t 100% healthy, well 98% if you count Jermaine O’Neal, they could have their hands full with Miami.

End of the Ming Dynasty? Poor Yao Ming is done for the season, again.  Going into the year it didn’t sound good concerning Yao.  He was going to play just 24 minutes a night, which like an impossible endeavor.  Rick Adelman does not need to count court time anymore as his big man is out for the year, and possibly his career.  Best case for Yao is he turns into Zyrdunas Ilgauskas, who had a terrible foot injury, but was able to comeback.  He won’t be a 20-10 guy anymore, but could still play.

If this is it for Yao how will he be remember?  Of course his importance was best displayed during the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing.  Yao was/is an ambassador for the sport turning tens of millions, or more, on to the NBA.  But as for his significance on the court?

Go back to Yao’s rookie year and early on it looked as though the #1 pick might be a bust.  Yao didn’t score double digits until his 7th game when he put up 10.  He came off the bench for the first ten games of his career.  Critics were all over him and the Rockets.  But in Game 10 he slapped up a 30-16 night against Dallas and suddenly the outlook was much brighter.

Yao was named to the NBA All-Rookie 1st Team, he lost the Rookie of the Year Award to Amare Stoudemire, and even Caron Butler had a better 1st season, but Yao was clearly no slouch.  (Yes Celtics fans this was J.R. Bremer’s rookie season as well and he made the All-Rookie 2nd Team.)

Thanks in large part to his popularity, but also his play, Yao was a 7-time All-Star.  (Remember those Yao/Steve Francis teams?)  For his career he is averaging 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.  He had two seasons of 22-10.  He made the All-NBA 2nd or 3rd team 5 times.  One knock on Yao is he only advanced out of the 1st round of the playoffs 1 time, in 08-09, but subsequently lost in the 2nd round.

Is Yao Ming a Hall of Famer?  If it was a fan vote it he’d ease in ahead of Shaq and Kobe.  But personally I don’t think he deserves to be.  The number of All-Star games is a bit watered down because of the fan vote.  He has next to no playoff success and average a double-double in a season just twice for a 7’6 guy.  Nice player, great center for a 5-6 year run, but not a Hall of Famer.  Of course all NBA fans hope that he can come back for a few more seasons.

-Bring Your Green Hat! Current Winning and Losing streaks in the NBA.  We all know the Celtics are riding high; winners of 13 straight, the Heat are right behind them picking up a dozen wins in a row.  The Spurs, owners of the league’s best record at 23-3, have won their last 8, and don’t look now but Kobe and the Lakers have made it 5 straight.

Gilbert Arenas got out in time as the Wizards are on a 7 game skid.  The woeful Timberwolves and Kings have both lost 5 straight.

That’s it for this week; Around the NBA will be back next Monday!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  • Jamie

    Really good trades for Orlando to dump Lewis bad contract and Carter who is at the end of his and done as a player.

    • Jay P

      Ya, dump Lewis' bad contract, and pick up Arenas' even worse contract. Plus he's got bad knees.


      But I love the trade because it keeps my pipe dream of seeing Rondo and Dwight playing together in the realm of possibility. I'm willing to bet he's opting out at the end of next year…

      • Jamie

        Unfortunately I live in VA and get to see way too many Wizards games and Arenas looks pretty decent this year. He's not at his form pre knee injury but he's not a slouch. In the games Wall didn't play and Arenas had to start he put up pre knee injury numbers. The big problem with Gil is he is inept defensively which will drive Van Gundy insane.

        Lewis was playing out of position and he has been brick city all year. There was an article on probasketballtalk in the last week about how poorly he was shooting and if Orlando should bench him.

  • ElRoz

    Well, I agree that Orlando got smaller since they lost at least a good back-up center and a semi-power forward. But Hedo's reblonding as the same as with R. Lewis and his size is similar, so not much loss there. VanGundy said that he is planning to play Hedo as a SF? Orlando appears w/o a back-up center or PF now.
    I do feel confident that Orlando's offense has improved, and more than their defense might have suffered. Their defense was among the better in the league, so it would still be better than average.
    Some of the games they lost were with several leading players out with a virus. I still consider them in top 3 in the East.

  • Morpheus

    Yao, i love me some Yao. What a loss to any bball fan, a 7'6 guy that can shoot, post up, turnaround fadeaways that's impossible to block, plays tough D, a good teammate, excellent hands and a great work ethic. Oh yeah and is a 83% ft shooter for his career. I really really really hope he does come back to play again, a blessing from the basketball Gods perhaps.

  • CelticNut

    I would say the Magic are a better team after this trade than they were before the trade. Richardson is better than Carter and Hedu is better than Lewis. The loss of Gortat is going to KILL them when Dwight gets in foul trouble. In any 7 game series, Dwight will be in foul trouble at least 1-2 games. Big trouble ahead!

  • Robert

    CelticNut: The lack of a backup for Dwight puzzles me, as well. Compounding this problem is that none of the incoming guys are particularly strong defending the ball, meaning that Howard is going to see a lot of guys slashing hard to the hoop.

    In terms of how this impacts the Celts, well, I still like their chances against the new look Magic. Defensively, Perkins, Shaq and Big Baby (in small stints) can handle Howard 1on1. Everyone else matches up pretty well on their perimeter guys. Both Richardsons are largely shooters, Nelson and Hedo can handle the ball but I don't classify either as a dangerous penetrator, Reddick: shooter, Ryan Anderson: shooter. Arenas can slash and shoot, but he's never been a particularly efficient scorer and he doesn't seem to be improving with age. He's the kind of guy the Celts could funnel shots too ala Matt Barnes last year. Brandon Bass is doing some work inside with Howard, but at 6'8", I think Pierce or Garnett can handle him pretty easily.

    • zebulon

      Actually, in 2007 Arenas WAS an efficient scorer, putting up a true shooting percentage of 56.5% with a usage over 31% (ridiculously high – a dwyane wade/lebron james pre-teaming up number)

  • Batman

    I feel bad for Yao Ming. I feel his career could have been HOF level if he stayed healthy. But maybe it was never meant to be. And to this day I still puzzle at how Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming could not win a single playoff series. Seriously, i was 9 when he came to Houston, and I thought him and Yao were the best 1-2 punch in the league. Of course I was 9, and a year from being a celtics fan. But definitely his 7 all-stars are kind of weak. EVERYONE votes for him. Him and Andrew Bynum are leading the all-star votes! They've played like 10 games combined!! I would say he deserves 5.

  • Carlos R

    Sorry Orlando fans, but you're not going to beat the greens with that roster. A healthy Celtics team will dismantle the Magics in the play offs, if they get to face each other.

  • TMC

    Who the hell is going to guard the 5 spot for them with Howard on the bench? I really hope we can get some depth back to health at the 5 because those 2nd unit guys are going to destroy Daniel Orton.

  • You don't think Yao's Hall of Fame material? Maybe if it was an NBA Hall of Fame, but it's the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

    If you add his NBA career (very solid) and his international play (superb), I think he deserves to be in the discussion. Not to mention, he opened the door for a new wave of NBA players from his very considerable portion of he world. At least admit that lesser international players have made it into the Hall easily.

  • Rav

    Yeah, if you include Yao’s international career and more importantly his work in promoting the game across the world I think he’s a Hall-of-Famer easy.

    I like the Magic’s trade with Phoenix. They get a shot of energy and consistency by upgrading Vince with J-Rich. Also, Hedo provides a more natural playmaker than Jameer Nelson. Orlando do lose their best perimeter defender (Pietrus) and a solid backup center in Gortat, but passable replacements can be picked up on the FA market, the drop-off here is not as great as the offensive impovement (to be honest, their team defense is fine even though Pietrus is a bench player). I’m not so sure that the Arenas trade was so smart. I would have waited to see how the new additions from the first trade fit in.

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