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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Magic Season Preview 2006

For now, Magic need to take baby steps, get into playoffs
Dwight Howard predicts the Orlando Magic can "go all the way to the championship" this season.

Play Time
Magic fans, it's now safe to invest in a Dwight Howard memorabilia collection and for Junior to permanently affix that Jameer Nelson poster to his bedroom wall.

Here's where to find the Orlando Magic
You can follow the Magic all season in the Orlando Sentinel and on OrlandoSentinel.com.

Plenty of changes in store off court
The really good seats got significantly better this season, but those sitting there aren't the only ones who will benefit from changes at TD Waterhouse Centre.

Parking isn't as simple as it used to be
If you haven't already reserved your spot and expect to drive up to one of the garages near TD Waterhouse Centre and find a parking space on an Orlando Magic game night, you're in for a big surprise.

LAST SEASON: 36-46 (Third in Southeast Division)

Picking favorite is no slam-dunk
Racing down the floor last season against the Boston Celtics, he was ready to receive an alley-oop from Magic teammate Jameer Nelson. Trouble was, Nelson's delivery was more oops than alley, as the ball drifted directly behind Dwight Howard on the break.

Brian Hill, Head Coach
James Augustine

If you care to know what the pro analysts over at ESPN think about the Magic, click the link below.

Friday, October 27, 2006

GMs Taking Notice of Magic

After the team's strong finish to the 2005-06 season, Orlando Magic Head Coach Brian Hill has said a number of times that this team isn't going to sneak up on anyone this season.

And apparently, NBA General Managers agree.

In the annual NBA.com GM Survey released today, the Magic are well represented. In comparison, Orlando and its players were only mentioned a little over a handful in the 2005-06 survey.

After bringing back the core of last year's team, at least a few of the NBA's general managers seem to think Orlando could be a legitimate candidate for the NBA Title.

The Magic received votes in the "Which team will win the NBA Finals 2007?" and also the "Which team will win the Eastern Conference?". The San Antonio Spurs received the highest percentage of votes with 42.9 percent, followed by the Dallas Mavericks and defending world champion Miami Heat. Minnesota and Phoenix also received votes.

The GMs selected Orlando and Washington (both received 3.6%) to finish second behind Miami (92.9%) in the Southeast Division and the Magic were received the second highest amount of votes (14.8%) for "Which team will be moved improved in 2006-07?" behind Houston (25.9%).

After his remarkable season last year - along with his play this summer at the FIBA World Championships - NBA general managers appear to be impressed with third-year standout Dwight Howard.

The Magic favorite was selected as the player to "Most Likely have a Breakout Season", capturing 32.1 percent of the vote. He also received votes as the "best center" in the NBA, behind Miami's Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan, along with receiving votes in the "most athletic" and "best offensive rebounder" categories.

Perhaps the most impressive votes Howard were received were in the "If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?" category. Others receiving votes in that category: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan - not a bad list to be included on.

But Howard wasn't alone in being recognized by the NBA's brass. After breaking out of Detroit and unleashing his skills on the NBA, Darko Milicic was selected as the "International Player Most Likely to Have a Breakout Season", receiving 28.6 percent of the vote. He also received votes in the "Best Interior Defender" category.

Other Magic players who received votes included rookie J.J. Redick in the "Best Pure Shooter" category, and Jameer Nelson and Bo Outlaw in the "Player Who Does the Most With the Least" category.

2006-07 GM Survey

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Magic end preseason on winning note with victory over Rockets

The Magic finish with an encouraging 6-2 mark this preseason with their 94-90 victory over Houston. Three players scored in double figures for the Magic, led by D Howard (22 pts 15 rebs), C Arroyo off the bench (16 pts), and H Turkoglu (10 pts). The Rockets were led by former Magic star Tracy McGrady (18 pts) and Yao Ming (13 pts in 13 minutes).

The Magic outscored the Rockets from the field 79-69 on 45.3% FG shooting, while Houston shot 38.4%. However, the Rockets had a huge advantage in 3 pt FG shooting, shooting 13 of 33 (39.4%), while the Magic shot just 1 of 13 (7.7%). HOU (21 of 28 for 75%) outscored the Magic (15 of 19 for 78.9%) from the FT line. HOU outrebounded the Magic 44-42, but the Magic had just 11 TOs compared to 20 for HOU. The Magic bench outscored the Rockets bench 42-37.

Darko, coming off the bench, scored 4 pts in 17 minutes along with 5 boards, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. However, he had 5 TOs in that little amount of time. J.J. Redick played 3 minutes and failed to score. J Nelson (8 pts 3 assists 3 TOs) is trying to find his form after missing much of the preseason due to a concussion. G Hill scored just 6 pts in 27 minutes. However, at least he's healthy and ready for the regular season.

Just 6 more days until opening night when the Bulls and Big Ben Wallace come to Orlando!

To Answer Our Question...

Otis Smith On...

From Tom (10/24): Hi Otis, nice job on assembling what looks like a deep team this year. I do have a question for you: Why is it that Darko seems to be relegated to the bench to start games? Even Battie seems to have suggested that with the all-world potential Howard and Milicic could have together, Darko should be starting. It seems to me that our best chance at having a breakout season as a team is Darko having a breakout season as a player. The trade for him and Arroyo is part of the reason fans have so much optimism for this season, and it would seem to favor us to start Darko. If we need more defense on the 1st team /offense on the 2nd, we could start him and Bogans and have Hill be the 6th man of the year. Just a thought. Thanks for taking time out of your day, and for giving Magic fans hope.

Otis: Tom, Thank you very much for your interest and concern with the Orlando Magic. How many things in your life have just been given to you? You are a nice guy...you deserve to have what everyone else in life has, I think we should just hand it over to you.

It's funny that sports is one of a few places that we expect things to be given, not earned. Darko is a very talented young basketball player and will have an impact on this team in the near future. However, if he is going to start and our team is going to have success, Darko will have to earn his starting job just like every other player. We are fortunate enough to have Tony Battie on our team to be able to play whatever role we need him to play.

To answer your question about defense with the first unit, it's not a one person issue...it's a team issue. We have to do a better job with team defense and we are getting better...mostly because of Tony.

Tom, thanks for being an informed fan.

Battie Gets It...

Battie said Milicic didn't get a "fair shake" in Detroit. He said it takes time for young bigs to develop, adding, "Darko is on schedule, and it's about time for him to arrive."

Playing the role of mentor, Battie said he needs a sit-down with Milicic to encourage the quiet, almost painfully shy, Serbian native to be more aggressive.

"Maybe I need to pull him to the side, have dinner with him and see exactly where his head is at," Battie said.

"I just want to let him know that this is as much his team as it is Dwight's and Jameer's [Nelson]. I want him to know he has to be more aggressive on both ends of the court. I don't want him to just get in where he fits in. I want him to assert himself.''

Full Article: Battie will continue to start for Magic

Don't get me wrong, Battie is playing the role of the perfect veteran. But shouldn't Darko be hearing things like that from someone of higher power within the organization? Why haven't we heard Brian Hill, or Otis Smith say something like that? Why are they being so cautious with this kid? Why are they holding back, whether in regards to him starting, or getting him a new deal before his value balloons up?

Monday, October 23, 2006


Though they play in the backyard of the Happiest Place on Earth, the Orlando Magic haven't had a lot to smile about since blowing a 3-1 series lead over Detroit in the 2003 NBA Playoffs.

Three coaching changes, the trade of Tracy McGrady, the ill-fated John Weisbrod era, the wasted Fran Vazquez pick, Grant Hill continuing to limp through his contract. Faster than Pat Williams can write a book, the Magic had undone 11 consecutive .500 or better seasons with three straight trips to the lottery.

Only last February was the Magic kingdom finally infused with a little pixie dust, when Orlando made two deadline deals, one of which jettisoned Steve Francis to New York and put the franchise squarely on the broad shoulders of 20-year-old Dwight Howard.

Suddenly, Magic fans were turning their frowns upside down. Orlando was 17-13 after the trades, benefiting from addition by the subtraction of Francis as well as the arrival of Trevor Ariza, Carlos Arroyo and even the enigmatic Darko Milicic.

With Jameer Nelson handling starting point guard duties and Howard dominating inside, Orlando won 16 of its final 22 games to salvage a 36-46 season. An offense that averaged only 92.8 points and shot 45.7 percent with Francis, exploded for 98.5 ppg and .498 shooting on Nelson's watch.

"It feels now a little like it did when I took over the first time [in 1993-94]," Coach Brian Hill told the Orlando Sentinel in September. "Shaq was going into his second season. We had just drafted Penny [Hardaway], and people knew we were on the verge of something."

Howard is on the verge of being one of the NBA's best players. He was the NBA's second leading rebounder (12.5 rpg) and a member of the FIBA World Championship team. The league's most proficient dunker (214), Howard was also among the NBA leaders in field goal percentage (.531), blocks (1.4) and double-doubles (60).

Orlando has a good mix of young and old. They have 11 players 27 or younger, but benefit from the veteran presence of Hill, Bo Outlaw, Tony Battie and Pat Garrity. The only significant hit to their roster this summer was the loss of starting shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson, who signed with Washington.

Stevenson's defense will be missed. Certainly, the Magic don't expect first-rounder J.J. Redick to fill that void, but he does quench Orlando's need for perimeter shooting. A prolific scorer at Duke (26.8 ppg last season), Redick's job will be to keep defenses from collapsing on Howard.

If he can do that and if Milicic can continue to develop, the Magic become dangerous enough to contend for a playoff spot.-- Bill Evans

Link to the complete article:
NBA.com: Magic Preview

In his last five (meaningless) games, Garrity has hit 18-of-36 shots (50 percent), including 8 of 17 3-pointers (47 percent). What can be said of this?
Sentinel: Success for Garrity

A master candidate
Shaquille O'Neal named Orlando's Dwight Howard, Houston's Yao Ming and Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire as the most likely candidates to succeed him as the NBA's most dominating player. "When age does its thing, one of them will become the new master," O'Neal said.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Magic's Future Depends on Progress of Dwight, Darko

That is the exact title of a lengthy article by John Denton posted on ESPN.com. You will find the link below:


There is little mention of Hill (Brian) but there is plenty of Otis Smith's comments saying just about all the right things, including some comments on the other Hill (Grant). The article is worth reading.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hawks come back to hand Magic first preseason loss

The Magic, playing their first preseason home game, failed to hold on to a 14 pt lead against the Hawks and lost 100-96 to fall to 3-1 this preseason.

Dwight Howard was the star for the Magic, scoring 27 pts, along with 10 boards, 6 assists and 3 blocks. Keyon Dooling added 15 pts. Jameer Nelson saw his first action this preseason and scored 12 pts in 25 minutes but only had 1 assist. Hedo Turkoglu and Carlos Arroyo added 5 each in their first action also of the preseason. Darko had his worst game so far with just 4 pts on 1 of 8 shooting, and also suffered a hard fall and went to the locker room favoring the right side of his back and hip. Joe Johnson (27 pts) and Zaza Pachulia (19 pts) led Atlanta.

At least we got some injured players back this game. Let's hope everything is alright with Darko after his hard fall. Dwight continues to show his offensive improvement.

Box Score

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#13 Charlotte Bobcats

Essay #3 in the series. Sorry for the delay but writing about the Hawks last month was too painful. All Hail Michael Jordan! Let’s look at the basketball wreck that he is now running called the Charlotte Bobcats.

Last Year in Review
It’s unfair to call the Bobcats an institutional mess, if only because they are so new. When the team was rewarded the finalists came down to a team led by Larry Bird & the eventual winner led by Bob Johnson of BET television networks. Johnson is a billionaire, but apparently didn’t get that way by spending money like Mark Cuban. To date, the Bobcats are the cheapest spending franchise in the league.

The GM and coach is Bernie Bickerstaff who is coaching his fourth team. Charlotte has won 44 games in its first two years. Bernie has a career record of 382-468 and 12-21 in the post season. His teams have not won a playoff game since 1989.

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

Scoring 96.9 vs. 100.9 ppg
FG%: 43.27% vs. 47.81%
3 pt shooting: 428/1261 .339 vs. 458/1285 .356
Rebounds 39.8 vs 44.0
Assists 20.9 vs 22.9

Steals 10.02 vs 7.04

Blocks 4.32 vs 5.38
Turnovers 13.6 vs 17.4

The lone bright spot is the point guard play of Brevin Knigh and Ray Felton. Together they accounted for 14.4 assists versus 4.7 turnovers a night for a very good 3.0 assists per turnover ratio.

Best players last year:

Gerald Wallace 15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.51 spg, 2.09 bpg

Brevin Knight 12.6 ppg, 8.8 apg, 2.28 spg

Primo Brezec 12.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Ray Felton 11.9 ppg,5.6 apg,

That’s about it really. Okafor averaged 13.2 points and 10.0 rebounds but in only 26 games. Kareem Rush averaged 10.1 ppg and was so well liked he was cut with a few weeks left in the season. Jumaine Jones averaged 10.5 ppg and little else.

This is the make-up of a losing team sporting a payroll of $33.5 million which was 30th in the league.

2006/2007 Prospects

They are young, but have suspect talent outside of Wallace, Knight & Felton. Okafur missed most of last year with an ankle injury. He played 73 games his rookie year after the Magic passed on him at least partly because they were worried about his back. (Howard over Okafor was a risk at the time and may go down as the finest draft decision in Magic history.)

The real question is what the arrival of Jordan means. Is Bickerstaff gone as GM? Will the franchise start spending money on players? The franchise stretched a bit taking Adam Morrison, or did they? They left two very good SGs in Roy and Foye on the board to take a SF which is the position Gerald Wallace plays.

Games vs. Magic
4 games. Last year Magic were 3-1 vs Charlotte losing the last meeting in Charlotte in March.

Nov 18

Dec 14 at Charlotte

Jan 5

Mar 12 at Charlotte

Odds and Ends

82games.com says Charlotte earned $35.6 million of their 33.4 million salaries last year. That is at least a moderate sign that they are well coached but limited in talent, NBA experience and salary.

24-32 wins, last in Southeast Div behind Hawks, miss playoffs.

MASH update


Battie, Nelson, Turk expected to start tonight. Arroyo expects to play. Nelson downplays his concussion and jokes he's rushing back to save his job being stolen by Diener.

Ariza and Redick are in serious jeopardy of not being ready to start the season.

You have to start wondering if Redick can have much of a rookie season after only playing 2 weeks of ball since being drafted.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Shorthanded Magic up pre-season mark to 3-0

Despite missing several players with injuries, the Magic continue to show their strong depth as they pulled out a 92-87 win Saturday night over the Spurs in San Antonio, their second win in back-to-back games following a win over New Orleans.

Travis Diener was the star of this game, scoring 23 pts on 7 of 11 shooting, including 4 of 4 from 3 pt range. Keith Bogans and Darko each added 14 pts, while Grant Hill and Pat Garrity added 10 apiece. The Magic were outshot for the first time this preseason 51% to 43%. Garrity scored 29 pts in 2 games this weekend. I don't quite know what to make of this, as we're not used to Garrity putting up the kind of numbers like he has these two games, and not being a liability for the Magic when he's on the floor.

In any event, the Magic are unbeaten, even though so many players are missing in action due to nagging injuries. Other players are making the most of their playing time, which is good news.

Box Score

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Alex Martins, COO and Magic MVP

Orlando has the arena know-how

"The opposition in 2001 was much stronger, and at that time, our (owner) contribution wasn't nearly as substantial," Martins said. "As an organization, we learned from our mistakes. We learned from the way we handled it."

Magic officials speak to this from experience. They can lecture about poisonous dynamics, cartoonish behavior, protracted discussions, nasty breakups. During previous attempts to reach an accord, most recently as 2001, former RDV Sports executive John Weisbrod helped swing public opinion against the club with his aggressive tactics and harsh outbursts. His poor personnel moves and the team's repeated failings further crippled hopes for a quick arena resolution, prompting DeVos to fire the longtime hockey official and lure Martins back as a spokesperson/liaison.

The owner's directive was simple: Repair the damage, and alter the club's image. And Martins, who originally joined the Magic in its second year (1990) as a publicist, returned 18 months ago and immediately embarked on a one-man crusade. He meets religiously with city and county officials. He schmoozes sponsors. He chats with fans, soliciting their opinions, acknowledging their gripes, vowing to make changes. He favors the handshake to the hammer. And in that sense alone, he is the antithesis of Kings president John Thomas, who puts the squeeze play on whenever possible and wherever he works.

"(The Magic) was born here," Martins said. "We grew up during our teenage years, and like all teens, we made mistakes. But we've done a good job of re-engaging the community and repairing our relationships with area businesses. We have just gone about things very differently this time."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

No Need To Worry...Yet

Injury update.

The Magic were without six players -- Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Tony Battie, Carlos Ariza, Trevor Ariza and J.J. Redick -- and none of the six was on the practice floor Wednesday.

Nelson, who suffered a concussion and a three-inch gash on his forehead last week after a collision with Howard, did ride the stationary bike and did some light shooting. Nelson said the headaches and neck pain he originally experienced have subsided.

"The trainers just want me to be patient because apparently once you get a concussion, it's easier to get a second one," Nelson said. "They just don't want me to rush back because it's a head injury. But I'm pushing the trainers every day, asking them if I can do more."

Redick was allowed to shed the walking cast he's had on his left foot for the past week. He has torn tissue in the bottom of his foot and expects to gradually increase his amount of oncourt work. He likely won't return to practice until next week.

"(Falling behind) is definitely a concern when you are making a transition like this and trying to get to know your new teammates," said Redick, the Magic's first-round draft pick. "But I just keep telling myself that it's important to remember that it's a long season. The NBA season is a different monster than I'm used to, and I just have to be patient."

Ariza, Orlando's defensive stopper at small forward, was given clearance Monday to return to the practice court. Tests revealed no broken bone in his right foot and merely a bruise.

Arroyo (oblique strain), Battie (sore knee) and Turkoglu (flu) are day-to-day. Turkoglu, who is having his blood and urine tested to determine his exact illness, hopes to return by Saturday when the Magic play at San Antonio.

Healthy Hill.

Long after his teammates were gone Wednesday, Magic forward Grant Hill was still on the practice court working on his jumper off the dribble with assistant coach John Kuester.

Hill was more than happy to put in the extra work. He couldn't do it last year because of the sports hernia that wrecked his 2005-06 season. Hill played well Tuesday, scoring 16 points in 18 minutes.

Hill said his abdomen and ankle feel as good as they have in two years, allowing him more range of motion and explosiveness than he's had recently. That burst was evident Tuesday when he repeatedly got into the lane and to the free-throw line eight times.

"I'm still a work in process, trying to get in game shape, but I feel really good," Hill said. "I'm not thinking about the ankle. I can't feel a difference between the left and right (ankles). The ankle isn't an issue at all."

Hill was hit just below the left eye in Wednesday's practice by an accidental elbow from Darko Milicic. He's already sporting a large welt under his right eye following a collision with Pat Garrity last week in training camp.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fear & Loathing in Charlotte

NBA.com: Orlando at Charlotte Boxscore

I don't buy into the theory that wins and losses do not matter in preseason. It seems bad form to practice losing at any time. So the good news is that the Magic dominated the last three quarters and beat the Bobcats in Charlotte 109-90.

But there is a whole list of things to worry about:

1. Garrity started and played 15 minutes of his now patented inefficient game. Like last year, someone needs to Gilooly him, and IT CAN'T HAPPEN SOON ENOUGH!
2. Only 8 of 74 shot attempts were 3 pointers which is half the league percentage. 5 of those came from Diener who will be buried on the bench once the season starts.
3. Redick out with soft tissue injury on his foot. Great, we seem to have another serial-injury victim from Duke on the team.
4. Turk has a mysterious "fever of unknown origin" that requires bed rest, blood tests & urine tests. This is scary. Internet speculation is all over the place including lyme disease, malaria, imuno-deficiencies, etc.
5. Battie has sore knees already. He's 30 and has sore knees. His could turn out to be a hell of a long 5 year contract.
6. Arroyo has a hurt groin and didn't play either.
7. Jameer has a concussion and will miss three games. Brain injuries are mysterious and can linger for up to year.
8. Ariza didn't play either with a bruised foot and expects to miss a week.
9. Bogans started and played 31 minutes. I'd say his performance was Stevenson like (14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 TO) except that he tried 2 threes which is as many as Stevenson shot all last year.
10. Hill played 18 minutes. It will be interesting to see if he can play in back to back games.

Yes they won and Howard shows signs of coming of age and driving for a max extension due next summer. But the rest of the above is not good.

Training camp is the time for the team to gel and prepare to start the season strong. This is the time for Redick to learn to play with NBA teammates. It's the time for Ariza to continue to improve. It was supposed to be Arroyo vs. Jameer killing each other every day, and for Turkoglu to lock down the starting SF position so the team doesn't waste time there with a fragile Grant Hill who has NEVER finished a season healthy for the Magic.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Let the bashing begin...

Magic's Milicic a changed man
Former first-round pick gains muscle needed to become force in paint.


Gone is the gangly, bleached-blonde kid with an outside shot. In his place is a muscular, black-haired man with a surprising post game.

Darko Milicic looks different than the 18-year-old who was drafted second overall in 2003 - after LeBron James and before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Now 21, Milicic also plays differently - he posted up forward/center Dwight Howard during the Orlando Magic's practice Friday at UNF Arena - but he's still coming off the bench.

Magic coach Brian Hill said he plans on starting Tony Battie alongside Howard in the frontcourt and bringing the 7-foot Milicic, who added a much-needed 28 pounds during the offseason, off the bench.

"He'll earn whatever playing time he earns, but I don't see him [starting] right now," Hill said.

But at least Milicic is getting off the bench.

Milicic never averaged more than 6.9 minutes per game for the Detroit Pistons, playing only in blowouts and earning a less than flattering nickname: The Human Victory Cigar. But after being traded to Orlando late last season, Milicic's minutes per game jumped to 20.9.

"His skill level and feel for the game surprised me, and he knows how to play the game," Hill said. "He's an outstanding passer, he's got a soft touch on his jumper. He's just a very skilled player. He was better than I thought he would be [when he was traded]."

Milicic spent the summer with the Serbian national team, practicing, weight training and preparing to be a contributor for an entire season for the first time in his NBA career. He came into Magic camp at 278 pounds with a defined upper body and a willingness to mix it up in the paint.

During an eight-minute scrimmage at the end of Friday's practice, Milicic and Howard matched up against each other. Milicic showed off a small array of post moves, including a baby hook, and he held his position on the defensive end as Howard tried to back him down several times without success.

"I feel much better," Milicic said. "I have a different approach [because] I know I'm going to playing."

Fran Update: A non-Training Camp update, but one we can still classify as Magic news. Fran Vazquez, the Magic's first round Draft choice in 2005, helped lead Winterthur FC Barcelona to an 87-81 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Vazquez tied for the team-high with 15 points on 7-of- 11 shooting in 23 minutes of action.

Though he has decided to remain in Europe, the Magic hold the NBA rights to Vazquez indefinitely. Vazquez recently said he felt he wasn't ready for the NBA, but that he might look into coming to the U.S. to play in another year or two.

The 76ers loss to Barcelona marks the first time an NBA team has lost an exhibition game while playing overseas. Chris Webber led the Sixers with 18 points. Former Magic player Mario Kasun, who is playing for Barcelona this year, scored four points with seven boards in 13 minutes of action.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Whit Watson on Darko and more

I invited Whit Watson to leave a comment on the blog with regard to the Darko's situation, and he kindly did drop in and left his comment under the post titled "Howard BELIEVES in Magic". The following is the full qoute that I thought should be brought up to the forefront. Thank you Whit, and yes, I know where to find you:

"Matt invited me over here, but now I think he might be trying to kill me... seriously, as one of the last twelve NBA fans on earth, I apppreciate a good debate.Up front, let me say that as a former Magic employee, I tend to sympathize with GM's and coaches in general. Yes, there are some bad ones, but even the so-called "idiots" are more intimately involved in the game than you and I could ever dream of being. None of them make decisions for the hell of it -- okay, except maybe Isiah.So why should Howard be a center and not a PF? Because in the Eastern Conference, there's only one center who can match up with him offensively, and he's on the tail end of his career down in Miami (and was never a big fan of defense even when a youthful member of the Magic). Exploiting matchups is a very big deal to coaches and GM's. Fact is, Howard is a bitch to guard and now has the body to match up with any center in the conference. Head to head, Howard beats just about every other player at the center spot in the East. As for Darko - I'm cautiously optimistic that he will turn out to be as good as he appeared for the final few months of last season. My only concern about him is this: Detroit didn't play him for a reason. There HAD to be a reason. If he's that talented - and it appears he is - something else had to be at work behind the scenes, and it's not just a glut of talent on that Pistons title team from a couple years back. Again, coaches and GM's make decisions based on reason, not emotion. Looks like Dumars correctly spotted the talent when he drafted Darko ahead of Carmelo - but then the kid didn't play, and they traded him for contract space. As a lifetime NBA guy, that makes me nervous.Assuming that he was A. young, B. homesick, C. whatever, and is now happy and acclimated, I see no reason not to give him big minutes in Orlando. Starter or bench is irrelevant - what matters is who's on the floor in crunch time. If Darko comes off the bench, but plays 30 minutes a game and is on the floor for the final two minutes, that's maximizing his value as much as naming him a starter. Personally, I'd love to think that the Magic have enough depth to use him as a spark off the bench, but I have no problem with him starting, either. He's a long-range threat as a PF, can block shots, and will outsize most of the players he matches up with (that exploiting matchup thing again). If his ego requires him to be a "starter" in order to be happy, do it. Like I said, it really doesn't matter as much as we think it does.Hope that makes sense. Thanks for the invite. See you on TV.

Whit Watson
Sun Sports"

Today's Stories & Day 3 Recap

Here are today's Magic stories. They range from O-rena talk to thoughts on Darko and his contract situation. Another interesting comment came out of Denton's NBA Dish where he said when Darko stepped off the scale after Tuesday's practice he now weighs 276 lbs.

Magic prepared to gamble on Milicic

Tms Union: Redick Plays Hungry

Sentinel: Nelson Accepts Leadership

Redick, Battie sit out practice with injuries

Name change for 'Orlando's Arena' imminent

New arena similar to FedEx Forum

Denton's NBA Dish

Day 3 Complete in Jacksonville
Thoughts Through Day 3
Posted by Glass Half Full, October 5, 2006, 3:56PM

Through five practices - including two sets of two-a-days - here are three thoughts:

* Attention to detail has been emphasized in every single drill. Bottom line: when on the floor, whether setting a screen, taking care of the ball, or being in the correct defensive position, do things the right way. The little things make a difference.

* Like last year, the focus of camp has been on defense. It's what separates the good teams from the bad. Glass Half Full goes back to a key defensive stat from a season ago: Orlando was 1-19 when allowing its opponent to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor.

* With essentially the same group returning, cleaning up offensive execution, limiting turnovers and player and ball movement has also been a point of emphasis.

* Bonus: Camp MVP to date: Keyon Dooling. He brings energy and has shot the ball extremely well.

For a detailed breakdown of Day 3 click the link below:
Day 3 Recap

These podcasts can be pretty cool and informative.
Daily Podcasts

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Still Going Strong on Day 2

If there were any signs of fatigue after Day 1, they weren't too visible in the early stages of practice as the intensity and hustle of the first practice seemed to carry over well to Day 2. In fact, in the first hour, Trevor Ariza and Carlos Arroyo went through a couple intense battles during one-on-one drills, Darko Milicic and J.J. Redick both went to the floor hustling after the ball and Grant Hill had to be treated for a bloody nose after taking a hard hit to the face.

But for each player that went to the floor after hustling for the ball, there were three teammates at his feet ready to pick him up. And while some are challenging for a spot in the starting rotation and everyone is competing for playing time, it's those little things that demonstrate this team's desire to win and play as one.

Dwight Finishing Strong: One of the most impressive things I've seen in the first couple days of training camp is how well Dwight is playing close to the basket. Perhaps all that summer training against Elton Brand, Chris Bosh and company really paid off. There doesn't seem to be any hesitation from Dwight on putting the ball on the floor, making a quick move and then getting to the rim. Dwight has had some stellar post moves against Darko Milcic, Tony Battie and Bo Outlaw in the first couple of days.

Trevor Ariza: Apparently Ariza spend his summer vacation practicing a variety of jump shots, from set to off-the-dribble-mid-range and has been displaying his new-found shooting touch. He has also been a defensive stand out. It could be a major plus to have a 6-8 athletic player such as himself step up big. The coaching staff loves the positional flexibility and depth he provides. It's no wonder that ESPN.com named his re-signing as one of the 10 most underrated moves of this past off-season.

Grant Hill: Not to jinx the guy, but he's supposed to be looking better than ever. He hasn't wasted any time and showing it either. Hill seldom dunks, but he raced down the floor for breakaway slams on successive possessions during a controlled scrimmage -- and trainer Tom Smith didn't flinch. Or faint.

J.J. Redick: He says he's rusty, yet that didn't stop him from making 12 consecutive shots from 3-point range in drill. Just imagine what the guy can do when he isn't rusty.

Glass Half Full: It's Trevor Time

Milicic looks to play his way into starting role

Sentinel: Perfect Liftoff

N-J: Redick Practices

FL Today: Back By Design

SIDE NOTE: Fran Vazquez, whom NBA fans remember as the guy who ditched Orlando a month after the Magic made him their first-round draft pick in 2005. "I wasn't prepared," the 23-year-old Vazquez said through a translator. "I'd prefer to stay here for two years and improve as a player. In a couple or three years I can go to the NBA and get a key role. But I wasn't prepared when they drafted me." The 6-foot-10 forward looked prepared. He flew to New York and was introduced by commissioner David Stern after he was drafted. He went to Orlando and appeared excited, even snapping photos of Grant Hill's locker. But he got cold feet, and a reported four-year, $8.3 million contract convinced him to stay in Spain. "I knew [the Magic] were disappointed," he said. "I talked to them, and they understood what I was thinking. Right now, my relationship with Orlando is good."

It is and it Isn't

Here is a CURIOUS qoute from Sentinel:

"Milicic was working with the second group, despite the fact that starting power forward Tony Battie (sore right knee) did not scrimmage with the first team. Coach Brian Hill elected to put veteran Pat Garrity in Battie's place at power forward. Asked if it was a big deal whether he started or not, Milicic, responded, curiously, "It is and it isn't.""

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On J.J. Redick

The following is qouted from Whit Watson's blog on J.J. Redick:

"On a basketball note - met J.J. Redick for the first time today. We shot an interview on the Magic's practice court for the upcoming Magic season preview show on Sun Sports. Nice guy. The idea behind the interview, which you'll see on that preview show next month, was to get him talking about shooting, and the mentality of a "gunner."At one point, I asked if he considered himself the "most hated player in the ACC" while at Duke. He replied that he was probably the most hated player in America while at Duke, which was a good point. The look on his face when he said it, however, gave me pause. Redick went on to say that he's a different person off the floor than on it, and that the venom directed at him over the course of his Duke career snowballed, took on a life of its own. I got the sense that he wouldn't mind being liked, for a change. I almost felt sorry for him, and immediately regretted asking the question.The point of the question, by the way, was to get him to this one: "Would you mind being hated in the NBA, if it meant being hated the way Reggie Miller was hated - despised by opposing fans, but adored by home fans for his willingness and unprecedented skill at making big shots at key moments?"That prompted a smile. "If I get the ball in that situation, sure," he said, "but I'm just a rookie. I'm not sure how many chances I'll get as a rookie."They grow 'em pretty smart up at Duke. Defer to the veterans, play it cool, wait your turn. I'm starting to like him already. And in case you're wondering - Redick's range extends a good five feet beyond the three-point line. It's all about the lift, people."

Training Camp Underway

Posted by Glass Half Full, October 3, 2006, 11:22AM

Day 1 Training Camp Impressions
Here are some early impressions from Day One of training camp:

* Head Coach Brian Hill's attention to detail is alive and well. Employing a little-things-make-a-difference philosophy, Hill's constant chatter during practice encourages his team. "Contest every shot"..."Stay in your defensive stance"..."Move your feet, don't reach."..."In 2-on-1 you need a layup"..."Take good shots."

* During one three minute stretch during this morning's two-plus hour workout, Keyon Dooling, Grant Hill and Trevor Ariza all took charges. It's one of the most selfless plays in a basketball game, nevermind a practice. It's as if I asked you to stand straight up and then I slugged you in the stomach.

* Jameer Nelson and Carlos Arroyo are going to be fun to watch. They are battling each other, and making each other better.

* Darko Milicic has an air of confidence about him, no doubt a byproduct of his success in this past summer's World Championships. I love the way Darko and Dwight Howard complement each other, and it's even better with a little Tony Battie, blue collar, veteran leadership sprinkled in.

* J.J. Redick's back is just fine.

* Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu on the floor at the same time will provide a headache for opponents. They are just so versatile and really know how to play.

Training Camp Underway

FL Today: Recapture Magic

Sentinel: Magic Eager to Prove

N-J: New Faces Rare

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hill wants Magic to be more hard-nosed

Toughing it out

The Sentinel released a pre-camp article today. The link to the article is above. Listed below are some of the comments that stood out.

Hill was brought back to help change the team's country-club culture, making players accountable.

"That's not going to change," Hill said.

That's why Francis and Kelvin Cato were traded, and why Hill won't hand out starting jobs as if they were honorary degrees.

"Guys have to earn their positions out there and maintain them," he said.

Hill said he hopes that some toughness can be forged, beginning this week with training camp at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. He expects a "very, very competitive camp" from the Magic, who will field one of their deeper clubs.

Ideally, the opening-night starting lineup would look like this: Jameer Nelson at point guard, Grant Hill at shooting guard, Hedo Turkoglu at small forward, Milicic at power forward and Howard at center.

Some interesting camp battles, however, will ensue:

Battie vs. Milicic. Can Darko build on his post-trade coming-out party and wrest the power-forward spot from Battie?

Grant Hill vs. all comers. The Magic want Hill to move from small forward and fill their shooting-guard vacancy. He's nearly 34 and recovering from another injury. Dooling, Keith Bogans and rookie J.J. Redick also want some action.

Trevor Ariza vs. his jump shot. The Magic made it a point to retain the defensive-minded Ariza. If his offense evolves, he can back up Turkoglu and provide much-needed depth at small forward.

Nelson vs. Carlos Arroyo. Nelson is the incumbent at point guard. But the way the fiery Arroyo played in the FIBA World Championship, he isn't likely to concede.

He's pretty tough.

Training camp

WHEN: Tuesday-Saturday.

WHERE: University of North Florida, Jacksonville.THE BUZZ: Practices are closed, but a free public scrimmage is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the UNF Arena. The first exhibition game is Oct. 10 in Charlotte, N.C.