Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Deal reached on new arena

City and county officials announced a deal to build a new arena, performing-arts center and renovated Citrus Bowl -- with a pared-down price tag, ensuring the Orlando Magic will keep playing downtown.

City, county announce deal on new facilities

Deal reached on new arena

In arena deal, mayors need to take control

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Magic Rumor

As camp nears, speculation abounds about Vince Carter's future. Rumors persist that he might opt out of his Nets contract after this season and sign with Orlando, where he already owns a massive home. ... The reasons for moving to Orlando are numerous, beginning with the fact that Carter really wouldn't be moving. He already has family there. Orlando also has the allure of blossoming big man Dwight Howard and cap space. Then again, the Magic can't match the $16.3 million Carter already is due in 2007-08. "Orlando will have about $9.5million of cap room if they stay the way they are and they keep their big kid, Darko Milicic," Thorn said. "They'll have $9.5 million in cap room."

Howard BELIEVES in Magic

Forget what I said in regards to keeping the expectations low. Dwight's a young guy, but you got to love his attitude, along with the rest of his teammates. If any of his "talk" translates on the court, we might have a 1995 flashback with people saying: "why not us, why not now"?

FL Today: Howard Believes in Magic

Sentinel: Howard Predicts NBA Title

Catching Up With...Dwight Howard

NOTES: Coach Brian Hill says four of the starting jobs heading into camp will go to incumbents: Howard at center, Jameer Nelson at point guard, Tony Battie at power forward and Hedo Turkoglu at small forward. Returnee Keyon Dooling likely will be the shooting guard.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Magic hope they have right ingredients for playoff run

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The last stand for Grant Hill

By: Brian Schmitz

Orlando Magic forward Grant Hill was on the road Wednesday morning, gladly battling rush-hour traffic. Yes, gladly.

While other motorists might have been impatient and cursing the gridlock, Hill was pleasantly excited to be able to get to work so early, even bumper to bumper.

He was heading to the Magic's practice court at RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, his injury-riddled career apparently revived once again.

Hill's destination was an indication that his offseason recovery from yet another physical ailment -- this time, a sports hernia that limited him to 21 games last season -- was on schedule.

He contends that rest and rehabilitation since March did the trick, allowing him to stiff-arm thoughts of retirement if more surgery had been his only option. He was pain-free by June and started to test-drive his once-sore abdominal area at full speed late last month in pick-up games.

So far, so healthy.

"I feel really good," Hill told the Sentinel, in his first extensive interview since the Magic's season ended in April.

"I've been playing some pick-up ball. I don't have any pain. I don't even think about it. I played against [New Jersey Nets forward] Vince Carter the other day, and although neither of us are in midseason form, I held my own.

"I've done things that if I tried to do them last year, I couldn't have done them. I'm ready to ramp it back up."

Hill was driving on I-4, but he also is at a metaphorical crossroads.

When he joins the Magic for the opening of training camp Oct. 3 in Jacksonville, he will begin the final year of his seven-year, $92.88 million contract.

The Magic anticipated that the additions of Hill and Tracy McGrady in the summer of 2000 would restore the franchise's glory lost in the post-Shaquille O'Neal era. But McGrady eventually was traded, and Hill was never healthy enough -- largely because of five surgeries on his left ankle -- to play a full season.

Hill was saluted for his 67-game comeback in 2004-05 and was voted by fans as a starter in the all-star game. Still, a sore shin ended that season prematurely. In all, he has played in just 135 of a possible 492 regular-season games for the Magic.

Hill, who turns 34 two days after camp opens, says he wants to keep playing as long as he can -- and the Magic say they want him back.

"That would be nice. I have roots here. I don't want to go anywhere else," Hill said. "I'd love to be part of things here, but this is the NBA. I've learned through the years that anything can happen."

For Hill, robbed of some prime years, the past six seasons have crawled by at an agonizing pace.

The stop-and-start injuries have been a mental strain, often leaving the athlete universally known for his cheery public demeanor depressed and broken behind closed doors.

"By no means has it been easy," he said. "That's life. You get knocked down, you get back up. A lot of other people out there got it worse than me.

"I haven't looked at it as my last year. I'm still trying to play. People say, 'Are you going to hang it up?' No. Shoot, I've come this far."

After five lost seasons, essentially, and a salary that has hamstrung the Magic, Hill realizes some fans might be welcoming his exit. "I understand people's frustrations," he said. "I've been frustrated, too."

Magic General Manager Otis Smith said Wednesday that the club's door will be open for Hill to re-sign.

Hill indicated last season that he would even play for the veteran's minimum -- a little over $1 million per season -- after his mammoth deal ends. But Smith said, given Hill's medical history, it was way too early to speculate about Hill's future.

"We've got to get Grant through the year," Smith said. "We'll figure it out as we go. I can't sit here in September and say what's going to happen. With Grant, it's one game at a time."

Hill's expiring contract might be attractive to teams looking for salary-cap room. Smith is adamant about not trading Hill in exchange for, say, a disgruntled star.

"I can't see that happening. He's an Orlando Magic as long as he wants to be an Orlando Magic," Smith said. "I'm a Grant Hill fan whether he plays 82 games or two games. I'd like him around our team for his leadership and the depth he provides.

"I'd rather have that than some disgruntled superstar. Grant's too valuable for me. To me, it would be like trading Dwight [Howard]."

To perhaps increase Hill's chances of playing a full season, Smith said Hill's workload will be monitored closely in camp. He added that rookie J.J. Redick, recovering from a herniated disk in his back, also will be restricted.

"It's not because Grant can't do it; physically, he's as good as I've ever seen him," Smith said. "We're not going to treat him like he's a place-kicker on a football team. We have to see where he's at [in preseason games], what we can rely on. But we have to be smart as it relates to Grant."

Said Hill, "If there's pain, there's a problem."

Hill, in something of a gamble, opted to try to repair his sports hernia this summer through nonsurgical means. He had surgery in an attempt to correct the problem before the start of last season, but continued to experience pain after he returned six weeks later. He shut it down in early March.

Vowing he would rather retire than subject his body to a seventh operation, Hill called upon noted Vancouver-based physiotherapist Alex McKechnie, a specialist in abdominal injuries.

Hill said he began working with McKechnie in late May in his intensive "Hard Core Strength Program." Hill said he spent so much time in Vancouver this summer "that I may have to pay taxes there."

McKechnie's techniques often require athletes to pull on rubber bands and mount balance boards, among other things, to promote flexibility and agility. He also thought Hill's hernia was brought on by his left ankle and addressed its range of motion.

"Some of the stuff Alex does sounds weird, the exercises . . . like having me balancing on one foot. But it's pretty amazing," Hill said. "It's nothing like I've ever done before. I thought to myself, 'Is this going to work?' It did."

If he stays healthy, Grant Hill plans to play on -- and happily battle more early-morning rush-hour traffic in Orlando next summer.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

#14 Atlanta Hawks

Essay #2 in the series. Sorry for the delay in writing but it’s hard to build up a head of steam over the Hawks and I’ve been busy. So lets look at the train wreck that is the Atlanta Hawks.

Last Year in Review
Like the Knicks, the Hawks are an institutional mess. Their multi-headed ownership group is in court suing each other, leaving Billy Knight in charge of things as VP and GM. Big mistake, he is one of the two most incompetent GMs in the game along with Philly GM Billy King. Under his watch he has carefully put together a roster made of nothing but 6’8” swingmen and led by undistinguished coaches.

I looked it up because I didn't know, the head coach is named Mike Woodson who is the tenth Atlanta coach. In his first year he led the team to 13 wins. Last year he doubled that to 26 and were last in the Southeast.

The facts about last year:
Record: 26-56, missed playoffs, last in Southeast Div.

Scoring 97.2 vs. 102.0 ppg
FG%: 45.35% vs. 47.80%
3 pt shooting: 424/1154 .367 vs. 444/1205 .368
Rebounds 40.3 vs. 40.4
Assists 19.8 vs. 20.6
Steals 7.16 vs. 7.28
Blocks 4.80 vs. 5.15
Turnovers 15.1 vs. 14.2

Atlanta is consistently a little worse in every statistical category. They need to improve everywhere but particularly at PG and C (positions usually not played by 6'8" guys.)

Best players last year were:
Johnson 20.2 pts, 6.5 apg, 1.26 spg
Harrington 18.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg 3.1apg
Pachula 11.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg
Josh Smith 11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg
Tye Lue 11.0 ppg, 3.1 apg
Josh Childress 10.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg
M. Williams 8.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg

2006/2007 Prospects
At least they are young and athletic and have tons of cap space. Marvin Williams just turned 20 and could turn out to be a star. He’ll still need a PG to feed him and the best they could do was sign Speedy Claxton. (Let me take a moment to comment on Tyronn Lue. I blame him personally for the Magic falling apart 3 years ago. He sucks. Slow, un-athletic and no discernable playmaking skills absolutely killed the Magic and tore the heart out of T-Mac. Every time I see Lue play I think of how awful a GM John Gabriel was. And yes, he looks like he belongs in the WNBA.)

They needed a PG, a C and toughness. New players include Speedy Claxton who will start in place of Lue, Shelden Williams who is probably not ready to play much of a role this year, and Lorenzen Wright to back up Zaza at C. They gave away their 2nd best player, Al Harrington for cap space. Apparently their goal will be to sign someone like Al Harrington to a free agent contract next summer.

With Harrington given away for free, Williams and the Josh’s will get more minutes. With luck they will improve enough that they will have an Al Harrington type year next year.

Games vs. Magic
4 games. Last year 2-2 with home teams winning all games

Nov 5 @ATL
Nov 25 home
Jan 26 home
Jan 29 @ATL

Odds and Ends

82games.com says Atlanta earned $34.0 million of their salaries last year and calculates their best players are Johnson, Childress, Pachulia, and Williams.

Mike Woodson is 39-125 in his two year career.

Josh Childress shot 55% from the field and 49% from 3 point range but only average 10 ppg in 30 minutes of play. 9 other Hawks shot the ball more than Childress. (Way to distribute the ball Tyronn!)

Marvin Williams was MVP of the Rocky Mountain Review summer league.

26-32 wins, last in Southeast Div, miss playoffs.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Redick pleads guilty to DUI, gets 1-year unsupervised probation

The rookie Magic G also received a 60-day suspended license in North Carolina, $410 in fees and court costs and must perform 24 hours of community service.

For the complete article, check out NBA News on sports.yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

#15 New York Knicks

It's September, we don't have much to talk about, so we'll look at the east from bottom to top between now and training camp starting with the train wreck that is the New York Knicks.

Last Year in Review
Isiah Thomas took over as President of the Knicks December 22,2003. He completely revamped the roster and has just hired himself as the fifth coach since his hiring. Last years Knicks team spent about $110 million and produced 23 wins. Add about $30 million in luxury taxes and another $10 million or more to Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens & whoever else they are still paying and they averaged spending around $6 to $7 million per win.

The facts about last year:
Record: 23-59, missed playoffs, last in Atlantic Div.

Scoring 95.7 vs. 102.1 ppg
FG%: 45.47% vs. 46.66%
3 pt shooting: 320/884 .362 vs. 565/1495 .378
Rebounds 41.4 vs. 38.6
Assists 17.9 vs. 21.3
Steals 6.8 vs. 8.2
Blocks 3.3 vs. 5.3
Turnovers 17.0 vs. 13.5

In short, the Knicks were lousy in every statistical category except rebounding. They need to improve perimeter defense, interior shot blocking, assist/turnover ratio, outside shooting.

They are the classic example of how not to build a team.

Best players last year were:
Marbury, PG 16.3 ppg, 6.4apg
Crawford, SG 14.3 ppg
Curry, C 13.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg 0.78 bpg
Rose, SF/SG 12.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Frye, PF 12.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg 0.72 bpg
Francis PG 10.8 ppg, 3.5 apg

2006/2007 Prospects
Are gloomy at best. The roster is full of expensive ball hogs and undersized expensive power forwards. Isiah takes over as coach and the team is bound to improve somewhat. Last year Brown used something like 43 different line-ups and no one knew their role. That will change this year.

New players include Jared Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins who are all role players. Of the three only Jeffries will likely see many minutes. They lost C Jackie Butler to San Antonio who played well for them in 55 games last year.

One thing to look for is some variety of thug basketball. Isiah's Detroit teams during his playing career were full of cheap shot artists like Mahorn and Lambeer. The Indiana teams he coached also showed signs of thuggery, often at the expense of execution. Isiah seems to revel in and encourage this type of play. Softer players like Eddie Curry & Jerome James may lose minutes to Malik Rose and Maurice Taylor if they don't play along.

Games vs. Magic
Only 3 games scheduled this year vs. the Knicks. The Knicks season could be over by the time the Magic play them. Last year Magic were 3-1 vs. Knicks.

Feb 3 home.
Feb 20 @NY
Mar 26 @NY

Odds and Ends
There are over 80 international players in the NBA, accounting for almost 20% of the players. New York has no international players on its roster.

82games.com says the Knicks earned $38.0 million of their salaries last year.

Isiah Thomas head coaching career record is 131-115 in 3 years with Indiana. Indiana made the playoffs each year.

30-35 wins, last in Atlantic Div, miss playoffs.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Nelson pulls Magic together

-We've already mentioned this a little bit as it was mentioned on a blog on the Magic site. Today it was published in the Sentinel by Tim Povtak, and there are a few more details and quotes. It was all good news, and creates further reason to be excited for the upcoming season. It's hard not to appreciate Jameer and this Magic team. Hopefully the bonding and chemistry will translate into a lot of wins next year. One things for sure, no Magic team has been as prepared going into a season as this one.

Jameer Nelson didn't wait for training camp next month to start asserting himself as the leader of the Orlando Magic.

Nelson may have played only two NBA seasons and still could be facing a battle for the starting point-guard role, but that didn't stop him from gathering his teammates this summer for a weeklong training/bonding session in Philadelphia, near his hometown of Chester, Pa.

"I feel like I'm the leader of this team, and I should act like it,'' Nelson said last week from Pennsylvania. "My whole purpose was to make sure we continue building on the way we finished last season. I always thought in college, you became a better team if the guys really understand and enjoy each other, develop a chemistry. We can do that with the Magic.''

Although three of the Magic's key players -- Dwight Howard, Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo -- were in Japan at the FIBA World Championship, Nelson still managed to have eight teammates in Philadelphia for the week.

He set up their schedules and paid for everything. They played basketball, lifted weights, ran on the track, even had coaches from the five Philadelphia-area colleges help with training sessions. It was working with a dual purpose.

Together, they all went to restaurants, bowling, to a movie, even to play paintball. Nelson made sure the Magic guys stuck together.

"This wasn't a boot camp. We worked hard, but we had fun, too. It went really well. It's going to help when things get tough at times,'' Nelson said. "I'm not going to try and predict the future of this team, but I know now we're headed in the right direction.''

Nelson started slowly last season, missing 20 games in the middle with a sprained foot, but he finished strong, just like the Magic when they won 16 of their last 22 games.

As a starter, he averaged 16 points and 5.8 assists.

It was no coincidence that he didn't emerge as a leader until Steve Francis was traded in February.

"We had absolutely nothing to do with putting it [the week in Philadelphia] together, although I was invited to come watch one day,'' Magic General Manager Otis Smith said. "That's what made it so unusual. This kind of thing doesn't normally happen in the league. It was all driven and put together by Jameer. He is so focused right now, it's scary.''

The 5-foot-10 Nelson has bulked up to 200 pounds, and he'll arrive in camp in the best condition of his life. He will open training camp with the first unit, but Arroyo -- who played exceptionally well with the Puerto Rican national team at the World Championship -- will try to unseat him.

Together, they should provide the Magic with an outstanding 1-2 punch at point guard.

"There were things we saw in Jameer at Saint Joe's [where he played four years] -- leadership things -- that really weren't able to flourish in Orlando until recently,'' Smith said. "And I love what I'm seeing.''

Friday, September 01, 2006

Upset special: Greece stuns U.S. in FIBA semis

Co-captains King James, Melo, and Wade are apart of the newly assembled program for U.S. Basketball. The end results were pretty much the same as the disappointment continues for United States Basketball.