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Otis Smith: Logic Contortionist

 

A guy named Brian Schmitz at the Orlando Sentinel had a rap session with Magic GM Otis Smith last week, during which Otis mentioned his desire to avoid signing a center to back up Dwight Howard.

“Why do I need one?” Smith asked.

Schmitz, probably not used to being asked questions in his own interviews, pointed out that a strategy such as that one might present issues with the Boston Celtics, who, when healthy, have quite a few playable or Semih-playable bigs to throw at Dwight Howard and his non-existent backup center. Great answer, Schmitz! Smith’s rebuttal:

“See, I Iook at it the other way. Why do they have all of those bigs? To match up with us, to match up with Dwight,” he said.

Right. That’s pretty much true. Continue.

Oh, you’re done? That’s…the end of your answer?

Hm. Seems like that’s pretty much the same thing Schmitzy said, though, right? Like, he said that the Celtics have a lot of bigs to match up with Dwight Howard. Otis responded by saying he prefers to look at it “the other way,” but then just repeated the same thing back.

I get that Smith is suggesting that the Celtics have constructed their team with Dwight Howard in mind, but I don’t understand how that would lead him to the conclusion that he should not sign a backup center. Here’s a peek inside Otis Smith’s brain:

The Celtics have signed a number of big men ——> They have done so in response to our excellent big men situation ——-> I should trade away two of my big men and not sign any more. ——–> I need those roster spots to carry four point guards and not play two of them.

The exact opposite reaction would seem to make much more sense. Particularly when the team he’s referring to held Howard to 6 points on 1-4 shooting in their last meeting without its starting center.*

Anyway, the result of Smith’s strategy in Orlando’s last two games has been Howard playing 48 and 43 minutes and Van Gundy working with a seven-man rotation (which he’s used ever since the big trades). Yes, Howard is totally capable of shouldering a ton of minutes; he went for at least 39 in all six games of the ECF last year and only two of them were huge clunkers for him. Still, choosing not to pursue any more bigs hugely limits the Magic’s options against the team that’s probably one of the three most capable of minimizing Dwight Howard’s impact. Plus, more minutes for Howard means more time to get in foul trouble, and Dwight’s averaged a shade over 5 PFs per 48 minutes against the Celtics over the past two seasons.

I’m also encouraged by the idea that Perk or a well-rested Shaq off the bench could distribute some misery around the basket in the 5-10 minutes when Howard is out and Brandon Bass, Malik Allen, or Earl Clark is filling in at center. Doc may have to rest Shaq for the last two months of the season to make him useful in that scenario, but it seems like that’s the direction we’re heading anyway.

Anyway, keep doing things your way, Otis Smith. “The other way.”

*I know the Celtics lost this game, but it wasn’t because of Howard. It was because Ray and Nate combined for 5-28 shooting and 2-12 from three.

  • TedL

    This is how being a Celtics fan has changed me. When I see that D Howard is playing all those minutes my first thought is: he's going to get injured.

    • Tom W

      Sad how that never seems to happen to anyone else…

      • hdavenport

        I know a guy about to get surgery on both knees who might have a response to that statement.

  • aaron

    didnt they get all the bigs to go after LA? Perk deals w howard just fine, with bbd as a backup. cs beat orlando last year just fine, but not enough bigs in finals, hence this years more.
    this otis smoth guy is a pompous moron.

  • Batman

    Otis Smith is going to get a backup big. If he doesn't, he is screwed
    On a side note: We're first in the East again! yay!

  • DRJ1

    As you said… keep on keepin on, Otis. You will hear no complaints from us.

    Both the Magic and Heat (and for that matter, the Lakers too) are teams that absolutely rely on 1 (or 2 in the Heat's case) specific player(s), without whom they are dead in the water. What are the Magic without Howard? And we just saw what the Heat are without Lebron. This bodes well for the Cs, as ANY injury to the key players on these other teams simply removes that team from competition.

    But… all is not perfect. (It never is.) It's pretty clear now that the Celtics too cannot win it all without at least 2 key players: KG and Rondo. Maybe with Delonte back, missing Rondo would not be so devastating…. but I doubt it. Still, loss of any of our key players (including PP and RA) is not NEARLY as damaging to our team as the equivalent loss would be to our Floridian opponents.

  • Ian Dyer

    I see where he's going a bit actually. I think Hardwood Paroxysm posted an article on this. (Great basketball site) Essentially if we beefed up our big man rotation to deal with Dwight Howard and the Lakers and it is going to be near impossible to sign anybody at this point that will make their big man rotation much better then ours, then they should make their guard situation a lot better, which they've done.

    This gets back to why I loved this trade for Orlando. They've always been a 3 point shot, or Dwight in the post team. Both of these shots are the most efficient in Basketball. However, most defenses load up to prevent these and give you the long two. By trading for Turk, Arenas, Richardson, and pairing them with their current guards in Reddick, and Nelson they have increased their shooting from mid to long range. Now when we drive them off the line, they are much more likely to be able to hit that shot. This is also based off a Hardwood post. (http://www.hardwoodparoxysm.com/2011/01/10/boundary-and-nexus-maximizing-inefficiency/)

    It's definitely a gamble, but if Smith's goal is to get the trophy in June, I think it was the only gamble he could take. Signing a backup big wouldn't do much.

  • zebulon

    Their backup center is RYAN ANDERSON! He's slow and white and not physical at all. Their only other credible backup C is Brandon Bass, who despite the huge shoulders is only 6'8". The possibility of either of those two – or Malik Allen, or Earl Clark – playing minutes at C against the Celtics is absolutely heartwarming.

    Dwight is going to be at the Technical limit once we reach the playoffs. If he gets ONE T (ok – it could technically be two), he will be suspended for a game. There is no way the magic win that game vs Boston, Miami, LA, or probably even the Bulls. It's just not possible.

    Making the trades they did will probably make them a slightly better team in the long run. J-Rich does everything Carter did, but better at this point. Arenas is like their version of Nate Robinson – absolute gunner that will win them an important game at some point (and probably cost them a few as well). Hedo is a scrub, but he is an excellent 3-point shooter, and keeping the ball in his hands lets Jameer spot-up for his three attempts, and that makes Jameer an even better shooter than he is off the dribble (45% plus from deep). But they did trade away one of the best backup C's in the league, and the concept of not exploring backup C options is just… incredibly, undeniably foolish.

    Otis Smith is an idiot.

    • Batman

      Turkyglue is a scrub on all teams except Orlando
      He is a stud there

      • Jay P

        Yep, sometimes it's just the system that makes the player. They just fit.

        Like ya know… James Posey… or Tony Allen… or Glen Davis.

        On their own? Not too good. In the right system? Great.

  • zebulon

    Also – great title, Hayes

  • Berkcelt

    FYI Otis, the Celtics are not matching "up" with the Magic.

    I do however see the logic in his moves, if not these statements.

  • Jamie

    So Otis those trades you made that was not to match up with Miami?

    If he thinks trading for Arenas and Hedo who both have an allergic reaction to playing defense will help them beat Boston in the spring, he's crazy.

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