Everyone is so fascinated with the immediate impact that the Magic did not receive when they shipped away Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade that immensely helped the other three teams.
This trade is in no way going to help the Magic in the near future but there is one positive, the front office can now forget about all of Dwight’s drama and focus on rebuilding. Since Dwight Howard claimed that he wanted to be traded, he has slowly ripped apart the Orlando Magic organization.
The ownership for the Orlando Magic did whatever they could to please Howard, firing head coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith but in the end it did not matter because of one main factor. Over time, the Magic failed to upgrade the team around him.
Since the Magic reached the NBA Finals in 2009, the front office failed to put the right pieces around Howard. Taking chances on numerous players such as Vince Carter, Gilbert Arenas, Matt Barnes, Jason Williams, Micakel Pietrus and Brandon Bass. I can go on and on about the numerous deals that they have made in the past three years and give my insight on each move but that will come in another post.
I still believe that this still falls on Dwight Howard. “Superman” showed the past two years that he was unwilling or incapable to carry the Magic. It never seemed as if Dwight ever lobbied for players that he would like to play with in Orlando but more towards the few teams that he would like to play for, making it much more difficult for the front office.
Looking forward, it was already assumed among most NBA critics that the Orlando Magic were not going to be a contender this upcoming season and possibly the following due to Howard’s actions and the overall talent on the team.
The Magic passed up an offer from the Brooklyn Nets that would have sent Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humprhries and four unprotected picks.
- Lopez is an average NBA center who doesn’t care to defend, rebound(65th of 67 centers in defensive rebound rate), or create opportunities for his teammates (53rd of 67 centers in assist rate). This guy would be the centerpiece of the Magic offense if the trade went through. He is not an elite center.
- MarShon Brooks is a nice talent, who possesses a nice mid-range shot but lacks the three-point shooting (.313% from the behind the 3-point line). Next year will only be his second year in the league and he will be turning 24 next January so it will be interesting to see how high his ceiling truly is.
- Kris Humphries is a hustler pure and simple. He used to take a lot of stupid jump shots but he has controlled himself a bit more. He is not a superstar.
- The first round draft picks would have been the best piece of the trade but they would have most likely been in the latter part of the first round.
The Rockets offer was also passed up which would have included a couple of future first-round picks, Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Maurice Morris, and the rights to one or two of the Rocket’s first round picks: Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, or Terrence Jones.
- Kevin Martin is technically the centerpiece that the Magic would receive, considering that he is the most established player. He can score at ease with his jump shot or driving to the basket, and he has a knack for drawing fouls. Martin would make this team competitive and keep them in games with his scoring but he wouldn’t carry the team.
- Patrick Patterson is a solid forward, who needs to improve getting to free throw line (shot 70% on only 57 attempts all season) or three-point shooting (0 three-pointers made) if he wants to become valuable on the offensive side. He is a solid defender with a great basketball IQ that does not mind to get physical.
- Maurice Morris failed to contribute in his rookie year and it is assumed that he has more upside at the 3 rather than the 4 due to his lack of size. If he wants to get better in that role he must improve his long-range shot to stretch the opposing defense.
- The most intriguing of all three prospects is Jeremy Lamb. He has a sweet shot but it can be assumed that he is not worthy of carrying a team as his production dropped this past year with Kemba Walker playing in the NBA.
- Royce White and Terrence Jones both have a high ceiling but there are factors that point to them being mainly role players. White has the NBA body, who plays physical, can score inside and outside, rebound and pass the ball well but he has an extreme anxiety disorder and nobody is quite sure he can handle the spotlight. Terrence Jones has always been a good contributor but has been overshadowed by the likes of John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There are possibilities that they can excel but nothing is for sure.
The Magic ended up accepting a four-team deal which brought in Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Maurice Harkless, Josh McRoberts and Nikola Vucevic.
- Afflalo is the centerpiece of this deal for the Magic and the best attribute that he brings to the Magic is that he plays tough defense and he doesn’t take bad shots. He has never carried a team so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to being a player that is counted on to produce wins.
- Al Harrington is a player who is at the end of his career and was most likely included in this deal to make it happen. It is already assumed that the Magic will most likely put him on waivers some point this year or by the end of the year to create more flexibility for next year’s free agency. He shoots too many three’s and doesn’t want to bang down low for rebounds at this point in his career.
- Nikola Vucevic is a young 7-footer, who will turn 22 in October. He possesses a soft touch and is believed to have potential as a skilled low-post player with a mid-range shot. The big question marks lie on the defensive side of his game. Analysts question his physicality and his athleticism. Better rebounder than Brook Lopez though.
- Josh McRoberts has always been thought to have the potential to be a good offensive point forward but he has never tapped his potential. He has shown the jaw-dropping dunks and blocked shots but at most times he tries to do too much and causes a lot of turnovers or bad shots.
- Christian Eyenga is a freak-athlete but will need more time in live action to get better. He can block shots but is not a good defender and cannot rebound. Could possibly win the dunk contest if given the chance.
Would these deals have made the Magic a better team this upcoming year compared to the now Dwight-less Magic? Yes, I believe so but what would about in five years. I don’t believe that the Magic could compete with their counterparts in the East with a nucleus of those players and most likely mid-to-late first round draft picks.
I think both of those trades would have made the Magic a bit more competitive than the Magic that we are about to see this upcoming year but it seems hard to believe that those players would not be shipped elsewhere in due time as the Magic would continue to make moves to better their overall roster.
This trade shows that the Magic front office is not trying to put together a team that will get them to the playoffs but rather one that can compete for an NBA Championship. They understand that they must take the long road and build through the draft.
With this roster, the Magic faithful should be looking toward next years NBA Lottery and the possibilities of landing Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel, James Michael McAdoo, Cody Zeller, or the numerous prospects that could create some buzz this year.
Lets take a look at the roster before and after the trade:
Before the trade
PG 1. Jameer Nelson 2. Chris Duhon
SG 1. Jason Richardson, JJ Reddick
SF 1. Hedo Turkoglu 2. Quentin Richardson 3. Earl Clark
PF 1. Glen Davis 2. Andrew Nicholson 3. Justin Harper
C 1. Dwight Howard 2. Gustavo Ayon 2. Kyle O’Quinn
Magic projected starting lineup
PG 1. Jameer Nelson
SG 1. Arron Afflalo 2. J.J. Redick
SF 1. Hedo Turkoglu 2. Quentin Richardson 3. Maurice Harkless 4. Christian Eyenga
PF 1. Glen Davis 2. 3. Josh McRoberts 4. Andrew Nicholson 4. Justin Harper
C 1. Nikola Vucevic 2. Al Harrington 3.Gustavo Ayon 3. Kyle O’Quinn
With this roster, it is best to expect a maximum of 25 wins in a full 82 game season. I hate to say it but I think this trade puts the Magic in the bottom echelon of the NBA. Will the Magic be as bad as the Charlotte Bobcats of last year, who only won seven games in a 66 game season? No, they will not but the Magic will not be a good team.
Magic fans can expect to see Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, and the newly acquired Arron Affllalo to lead the way on offense. Nobody on the Magic’s roster has averaged over 20.0 points per game over the course of a season, other than Al Harrington in 2008-2009 with the New York Knicks when he averaged 20.7 PPG in 68 games.
The Magic does not have a superstar to carry this team and it will show through the course of the year. There is potential in Maurice Harkless, who was also acquired in the Dwight-deal, but he is probably a year away from contributing as a complete basketball player due to his streaky jump shot.
The Magic should look to build around a young nucleus of Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson but these two players are not quite yet ready to be thrown in the fire of the NBA.
So who becomes expendable and what other options are out there? I’ll be back in a couple days with some of my own opinions regarding the Magic’s future.
In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that the Magic expect to suck it up to regain their form as an elite team rather than rely on players that can scratch their way to the playoffs but never achieve greatness.
About the Author
Written by Andrew Chibani
Sports control my life. I am a recent Sports Management graduate from University of Tampa and an alumni of Jesuit High School here in Tampa.