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.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Happy News

MAGIC: Magic Re-Sign Trevor Ariza

Good news for the Magic. Terms not announced yet but Ariza is athletic and should have been signed for cheap. Ariza remains the second youngest player on the roster and is a year younger than JJ Redick. He is long and explosive and he is capable of growing into a defensive stopper role. If he gains a jump shot he is a steal.

This may be the last we hear of the Magic before the training camp roster is announced. They went into the offseason needing to re-sign or replace Ariza, Stevenson & Kasun plus add shooting plus a backup big without breaking the bank and ruining options for next offseason. Unless Otis has something up his sleeve the 2006/07 team will pretty much be this:

Gone for Sure: (-3) Kasun, Stevenson, Augmon.
New guaranteed contracts: (2) Bogans, Redick
Non-guaranteed additions: (2) Augustine, McNamara
On the bubble: (2) Travis Diener, Bo Outlaw (unsigned), McNamara, Augustine
Next year: Marcin Gortat

The season ended with the starters plus four bench guys (Darko, Arroyo, Dooling, Ariza) playing the bulk of the minutes plus occassional help from Augmon & Outlaw. Kasun, Hill & Garrity were inactive the last 2 months and Diener's work was limited to greeting various childrens groups before the game.

When the team breaks training camp the team will probably look like:

PF/C: (6) Howard & Darko & Battie account for 90+ minutes per game. Camp will determine if Darko starts or plays 6th man role. Garrity (ack!) & Outlaw limited minutes and Augustine 15th man unless he finds an aggressive streak in camp.
SF: (3) Turkoglu starts, Ariza first off bench, Hill in the mix or on the shelf with an ailment nobody can predict.
SG: (3) Bogans, Dooling & Redick all seeing time. Starter determined in camp all three averaging more than 12 minutes a game.
PG: (3) Nelson starts, Arroyo gets 18 minutes a game, Dooling gets spot minutes at PG. Diener is 14th man on the bench dreaming about his stellar summer league performance.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Arena Funding Approved

Field of Schemes:

Sentinel Link
"In case you missed the big vote on Tuesday, Florida's Orange County commission voted 6-1 to hike hotel taxes by 1%, with some of the proceeds earmarked for new and renovated pro sports facilities. With the Orlando Magic pushing for a new $350 million arena and other downtown interests demanding a $252 million renovation to the Citrus Bowl, however, the hotel tax alone is unlikely to make the nut: 'I don't think this ordinance gets us there,' county commissioner Homer Hartage told the Orlando Sentinel. 'There's a tremendous amount of work still to be done.'"
Given what is going on with Seattle possibly losing the Sonics and Kansas City, OK City and Las Vegas on the horizon looking to steal teams this is great news. If the Magic are willing to hand over the $60 million tax break the State gave them we should see the Magic in a shiny new palace with a 25 year commitment to Orlando before Dwight Howard turns 25.

Good for Dyer, Crotty and the State Legislature for not sinking to the populist demagoging taking place in Seattle and Washington D.C. and getting the project pushed this far. And a toast to all the wonderful tourists kicking in the extra penny to help pay for our new playpen. It's not done yet, but the last few months have accomplished a bunch.

Howard makes the travel squad

Daytona Beach News-Journal Online -- Sports:
"Dwight Howard will be the youngest of the 15 players heading overseas next month to represent the United States in the FIBA World Championship.

Howard, who finished second in the NBA in rebounding during his second season with the Magic, was among the finalists announced Tuesday by USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo. The final 12-man roster doesn't have to be submitted until Aug. 18, the day before the start of the tournament in Japan that runs through Sept. 3.

Magic coach Brian Hill spent three days last week at USA Basketball's training camp in Las Vegas observing Howard and said he feels 'quite certain' the 20-year-old forward will make the final roster.

'He's probably the best rebounder they have on the team,' Hill said. 'And he's playing extremely well.'"
They have a game August 3 in Las Vegas vs. Carlos Arroyo's Puerto Rican team.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dwight Howard blogs about Team USA practices

NBA.com: USA Basketball Player Blogs - July 20

So far camp is going great for me. I’m having a lot of fun playing with all these older guys, getting accustomed to playing with guys like LeBron and Carmelo, pretty much just being out here and being part of the team

...the toughest part, finding out where I fit in. We have a lot of scorers, and even though I’ve been working on my offensive game a lot this summer, I think that my role for this team will be rebounding. They’ve had me matching up a lot against Elton Brand. He’s an old school player who knows all the tricks. It’s been awesome seeing how these other guys play and do different things.

After a few more practices we’ll be ready and looking forward to competing against other competition. So far we’ve only had one real scrimmage game and we really played hard against each other. If we play hard like this against each other, we’ll be ready to play anybody.

Howard aims for Team USA

Howard aims for Team USA | ajc.com

Nice article about DH's rise to the USA team.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dwight Howard Amazing Dunk

Nelson to Howard

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sentinel Omits History

Shaquille O'Neal: 10 years since he split - Orlando Sentinel : Orlando Magic Shaquille O'Neal: 10 years since he split - Orlando Sentinel : Orlando Magic

The Orlando Sentinel rehashes 10 years of misery since Shaq quit on Orlando. Oddly enough, they fail to mention the poll they ran asking if Shaq was worth it, nor their active role in running Penny out of town.

Hoopsworld.com covers the Magic

Head To Head: The Orlando Magic | HOOPSWORLD.com | NBA News and Information | powered by Basketball News Services

Just found this very good article dated May 16th. It covers opinions on everything from "Stevie Carcinoma" poisoning the season, to the emergence of Jameer, Howards offensive shortcomings, Brian Hill, Otis, Grant Hill and a new arena.

Friday, July 14, 2006

FL Today: Magic Pick up bargain


Bogans signs 3 yrs for $8 million. Stevenson held firm for 4 yrs $16 million. Good luck to him.

More good news on the decision in the article:
And by refusing to meet Stevenson's financial demands, the Magic have plenty of money to retain restricted free agent Trevor Ariza this summer and also still be major players in free agency after next season. Orlando expects to have approximately $12 million to spend next summer on a free-agent class that could include Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis and Josh Howard.
Bogans on Bogans:
"My job is going to be to bring energy, mainly on the defensive end," Bogans said. "My thing is to play defense . . . that's what I do. That's what I have done since I've been in the league. So I plan on bringing that spark defensively."

More insight from Otis. He is counting on Grant Hill playing SG next year, and has replaced Darko with Turk when talking about his core 3 players. He must be privately seething over Milicic not showing for summer league play.
Smith isn't concerned about upsetting the chemistry that formed after Steve Francis was traded away last season. Grant Hill, finally healthy after suffering through a sports hernia last season, will spend major minutes this season at shooting guard, as will Redick and Bogans.

"I worry about it from the sense of who we add and who is Keith Bogans and can he fit into a role?" Smith said. "I think he can, so it won't be a matter of upsetting any chemistry. Our team is going to be built around our core guys -- Dwight, Jameer and Turk -- so I don't see chemistry being an issue.

Update: Stevenson is pissed at the Magic. (scroll down past all the praise for Diener) He probably should be angry at his agent for misleading him about his value to the Magic.

Reached in Miami late Thursday, Stevenson admitted that he was devastated by the Magic's unwillingness to work with him on a new contract. He said the Magic's refusal to budge -- their top offer was $10 million over three years -- was particularly galling.

"I didn't want to leave because I felt I worked my way up there, going from the gutter to being a starter,'' Stevenson said. "For it to all happen like that, it's really frustrating.

"I really wanted to get the situation in Orlando done. Obviously they thought I was replaceable. It's just frustrating to me because I wanted to play with Jameer Nelson, Keyon Dooling and Dwight Howard and now I'm not going to get that chance. It just [stinks] because I was a good guy who did everything I was supposed to do.''

Stevenson said he has four or five teams interested in signing him, but no concrete deal just yet. One of those teams could possibly be Miami, where he was visiting on the day he officially broke ties with the Magic.

I'm sure Miami can use him, they are really weak at SG and could use a new starter...

Diener goes for 34

Update: I'm sure this article is going in Mrs. Dieners scrapbook. It compares Travis favorably to Steve Nash. Nothing like summer hyperbole and good for Travis all the same...

ESPN.com - NBA - Orlando, Day 4: Wright's 28 points lift Nets: "Diener and Walsh pace Magic past Bulls
Behind the hot shooting hands of Travis Diener and Matt Walsh, the Orlando Magic notched their second victory of the 2006 Pepsi Pro Summer League, downing the Chicago Bulls 93-87 on Thursday evening. Diener tallied the biggest point total of any scorer so far this week, pouring in 34 on 11-for-16 shooting from the field while hitting on 7-of-10 shots from behind the arc.

Walsh ended the contest with three treys and 20 points, while Shipp chipped in 17 for Orlando. Both teams shot an identical 50.8 percent for the game, but the difference came from three-point land, where the Magic hit on 13-of-24 attempts (54.2 percent).

Diener and James Augustine sealed the victory, combining to hit all six of their charity shots down the stretch to maintain the lead."
Diener seems to be taking advantage of the Summer league opportunity.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Say Hello, Waive Goodbye...

Magic stop chasing Stevenson, will sign former Magic player Bogans


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ariza wants $3M/yr

New York Daily News - Knicks - Isiah for Ariza return

Teams interested in Trevor Ariza may include NYK, Sacramento, Houston & Denver. Magic have the rights to match any offer. Stevenson and Ariza are not likely to sign for several more days pending completion of trades and higher value players being signed.

John Hollinger at ESPN has Ariza ranked as the 7th best remaining FA, Stevenson at 24. It makes you wonder what world Stevenson is living in asking $4.5 million/year.

From ESPN on Marcin Gortat:

Marcin Gortat is making a strong push to make the Orlando Magic's roster, delivering a second strong performance Tuesday. But despite the Magic's need for another big body alongside of Dwight Howard and Darko Milicic, the Magic are expected to keep the 6-foot-11, 240-pounder in Germany for another season.

Gortat tipped in the game-winner with 17.7 seconds left, helping the Magic (1-1) defeat the Indiana Pacers (0-2) 80-79. Gortat, a native of Poland and a 2005 second-round pick of the Magic, had 15 points and eight rebounds a night after scoring 15 points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking three shots on Monday.

Gortat just started playing basketball four years ago, leaving behind his burgeoning career as a soccer goalie. The Magic would prefer that he return to his professional team in Germany and work on his game and body before possibly returning a year from now. "You can see that he's still very rough, but he's athletic, runs the floor and blocks shots,'' Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I really think another year in Europe will do him good. But there's no doubt he's a young player who has a future in this league.''

NBA Salary Cap for 2006-07 Season Set at $53.135 Million

NBA.com: NBA Salary Cap for 2006-07 Season Set at $53.135 Million

Salary cap is $53.135 million for next year. Magic are right at the cap now while still looking to sign Ariza and Stevenson. The more important number is the luxury tax level for next year set at $65.42 million. Nearly every team in the league is committed to remain below the tax level.

Miami is already at $62.97 without re-signing Mourning or Payton. They are likely to move one or two players to make room for Mourning. They would probably give away Derek Anderson (SG) or Mike Doleac for free if they could.

By being over the cap the Magic have the mid-level exception to play with which is set at $5.215 million.

New York, July 11– The National Basketball Association today announced that the Salary Cap for the 2006-07 season will be $53.135 million. The new Cap goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday, July 12, when the league’s “moratorium period” ends and teams can begin signing free agents and making trades.

For the 2005-06 season, the tax level was set at $61.70 million. The tax level for the 2006-07 season has been set at $65.42 million. Any team whose team salary exceeds that figure will pay a $1 tax for each $1 by which it exceeds $65.42 million.

The mid-level exception is $5.215 million for the 2006-07 season and the minimum team salary, which is set at 75% of the Salary Cap, is $39.85 million.

Monday, July 10, 2006

3rd Year Stars

James, Anthony, Bosh & Wade are about to sign 8 figure max extensions based on 3 years of production including significant improvement in year 3. This got me thinking about what we might expect from Howard & Nelson as they enter their 3rd year.

In year 1 Howard averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds. Last year he improved his scoring 32% to 15.8 and his rebounding 25% to 12.5.

Also in year 1, Nelson averaged 8.7ppg and 3apg. Year 2 improved to 14.6ppg (67%) and 4.9apg (63%). Both had outstanding improvement last year and now enter their first real "money year." Great performance can earn them huge extensions next summer.

Howard's improved rebounding may be unprecedented for a young player. The scoring improvement between year 1 and 2 for Howard and Nelson is somewhat comparable to Bosh (46%), Wade (49%), James (30.1%), Garnett (64%).

Lets look at scoring for the Big 4 from their 2nd to third years:

Player, PPG, Improvement from year 2
Bosh, 22.5 33.9%
Anthony 26.5 27.4%
Wade 27.2 12.9%
James 31.4 15.4%
Average improvement: 21.0%, median improvement 23.4%

There was not a whole lot of room for improvement statistically for Wade and James going into this year.

Howard and Nelson have plenty of room for improvement, just like Bosh and Anthony last year. If they work hard, stay healthy and the team stays focussed, it's conceivable we could be looking at something like:

Howard: 20 ppg, 14 rpg
Nelson: 18 ppg, 6 apg

I'll go out on a limb and say Nelson should do better. Steve Francis in his third year was good for 21.6 and 6.4 which Nelson is capable of matching. The last two months of the year Nelson averaged 15.8 and 5.6. Howard finished the last two months at 16.2 and 12.5.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Things to do while at work

MAGIC: 2006 Pepsi Pro Summer League:

Thank goodness for the internet. Now you too can see Marcin Gortat play live in a Magic uniform.
"For the first time, OrlandoMagic.com will be streaming all 15 of this year's Pepsi Pro Summer League games live over the Internet.

Due to limited space, the Summer League games are not open to the public. But now fans will have the ability to follow their teams with the live Web Cam. The camera will be mounted near center court and will follow the action as it moves back-and-forth to each basket. "
Now I just have to figure out how to get the livefeed working in Firefox.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Future of the Eastern Conference

The wild, wild East - NBA - Yahoo! Sports
You know how they are always talking about windows for sports teams – as in the window to win a championship is about to close? Well, in the Eastern Conference at least, everyone who doesn't have James, Wade or Howard (Cleveland, Miami, Orlando, respectively) is about to have their window close; if not next season, then certainly by 2008-09 and beyond.

James, 21, Wade, 24, and Howard, 20, are not just three good young players with bright futures. They are generational basketball talents, guys so good, so determined, so clutch that it is impossible not to envision them dominating the NBA (and certainly the East) for years and years to come.

Fast forward to the spring of 2009 – is there any doubt that James, with a better roster around him, has the Cleveland Cavaliers as the team to beat in the East? Certainly, unless you think Howard has anchored a quickly improving Magic team into that status. Or Pat Riley has rebuilt the Heat (post-Shaq) around Wade.

If you want to win a championship, you had better do it right here, right now. You can't build up a team with young players and hope it works in three years because the fact is that your young players aren't as good as the young players on Cleveland, Miami and Orlando. It isn't even close. You're going to lose.

James, Wade and Howard already are going to overwhelmingly affect your team's ability to compete for a title. You aren't getting out of the second round.

MAGIC: 2006 Pepsi Pro Summer League - Rosters

MAGIC: 2006 Pepsi Pro Summer League - Rosters

Magic announced their roster the July 10-14 summer league played at RDV.

40 James Augustine F 6-10 235 2/27/1984 Illinois R
10 Alpha Bangura F-G 6-4 215 2/4/1980 St. John's R
41 Elton Brown F 6-9 255 9/9/1983 Virginia R
35 Erik Daniels F 6-8 214 4/1/1982 Kentucky R
34 Travis Diener G 6-1 175 3/1/1982 Marquette 1
11 Bryan Edwards G 6-2 180 2/19/1981 Cornerstone University R
13 Marcin Gortat F-C 6-11 240 2/17/1984 Poland R
21 Darvin Ham F 6-7 240 7/23/1973 Texas Tech 8
20 Richard Jeter G-F 6-5 210
Atlanta Metro College R
23 Marco Killingsworth F 6-7 235 2/21/1982 Indiana R
50 George Leach C 6-11 245 5/13/1981 Indiana R
24 Alex Loughton F-C 6-9 240 5/3/1983 Old Dominion R
3 Gerry McNamara G 6-2 180 8/28/1983 Syracuse R
32 Rich Melzer F 6-8 225 1/8/1979 Wisconsin-River Falls R
7 J.J. Redick G 6-4 190 6/24/1984 Duke R
25 Joe Shipp G-F 6-5 220 2/25/1981 California R
42 Juan Jose Trigueros C
Spain R
44 Matt Walsh G-F 6-6 205 12/2/1982 Florida R

It's dissappointing that Darko & Ariza are not here for this.

Players to watch include Redick, Augustine, McNamara, Marcin Gortat, Diener & Matt Walsh.

I love the comments about Redick & McNamara being despised by so many people.

Gortat was a second round pick of Phoenix last year and was traded to the Magic. He is a 22, Polish, 6'11" 250 lb center. From ESPN: Positives: Gortat has good athletic ability and agility for a big man. He's long, active and has turned himself into a solid shotblocker and rebounder. He's tough around the basket, but has a developed a soft touch around the basket. Negatives: He's still relatively unknown. He plays in Germany for RheinEnergie in Koln and doesn't get the exposure that other higher profile international players do. Summary: Not your typical Euro center. He's tough, bouncy and athletic, but still pretty raw offensively. With Kasun gone, Gortat could be signed for this season if he's any good.

Diener is currently under a non-guaranteed contract. On July 8 $50,000 becomes guaranteed which jumps to $125,000 on August 1. Brian Hill is coaching the summer league squad so it's not a leap to assume that Diener's status for next season will be determined in July.

Matt Walsh had a decent three year career for the Florida Gators. He unwisely entered the draft last year missing out on both being drafted and winning a national championship. He played in 2 games with the Heat last year. Still he was a well rounded player at Florida who could shoot and is 6'6" tall.

Magic currently have 9 players under guaranteed contract with Redick unsigned and Ariza an unrestricted free agent. Assume Ariza signs that creates 11 contracts and four roster spots available. The 11 contracts put the Magic payroll around $54 million.

Deshawn Stevenson wants $5 million to resign which would push the Magic close to the luxury tax with 3 open roster spots. (82games.com says Stevenson was worth $890,000 last year, just edging out Pat Garrity for 11th most valuable member of the Magic.)

Fan favorite Bo Outlaw will also resign if the Magic need him as a backup PF. Augustine and Gortat will need to make a good impression.

Counting Redick, this summer league roster will account for 2 to 5 players on next seasons team.