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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Five Keys to a Successful '07-08

As we head toward the draft, summer league play, and free agency, here is an early glance at five keys to a successful ’07-’08 Magic campaign: Attack, Attack, Attack...Look for your ’07-’08 Orlando Magic to attack offensively. This should not be confused the shot clock, driving and kicking, and generally putting pressure on the defense. The Magic will certainly play at a quicker tempo and be fun to watch, but at the end of the day the offensive system employed will be the one that maximizes the talents of the players the most. For the most part that offensive foundation will use the Magic’s youth, energy and athleticism to its fullest. The Magic will look to be more efficient on offense, cut down on turnovers, make its free throws, and utilize the three-point line more. Playing Together and Energy are big buzz words for new head coach Stan Van with flat-out running and gunning. This is more from a standpoint of getting into offensive options quicker in Gundy. Defense Wins Championships...While all the chatter has been about offense and style of play (see above), it is still defense which wins championships. The best defensive teams (see San Antonio) play for the rings. Orlando has a solid defensive base and needs to continue to build on that from an individual and team standpoint. Thundercat...Look for Dwight Howard, nicknamed “ThunderCat” by teammate Keyon Dooling, to continue to strike. Defensively he will continue to block shots and hit the boards. Offensively he will look to build on his ever-expanding repertoire. Two things you need to know about Dwight Howard: 1) He wants to be the best; 2) He is an absolute gym rat, regularly spending hours in the weight room and on the floor fixing his deficiencies and building on his game. No House Calls...Health is always a key component. Orlando must stay healthy to win. Look at almost any team: The key players go down, you fall in the standings. You stay healthy, you give yourself a chance. Orlando employs a team of health experts, from your athletic trainer to strength and conditioning experts. They All Count...Orlando lost 19 times last season when playing a team with an under .500 record at the time of the game. If you look at the seven teams that won 50-plus games last year (Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Detroit, Houston, Utah, Cleveland), they combined to average just 10 losses to teams under .500. Orlando had eight losses last year against the teams which ended up finishing last in their respective divisions. Wins lead to playoff seeding, which can lead to home court advantage and postseason advancement.


  • At 11:43 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    With the draft up first,here's some info into what we can expect come draft night. By Deanna Gugel

    If you haven't seen it yet, the Orlando Magic have an offseason primer set up on their Web site, talking about the draft, free agency and their upcoming summer league. Based on what they have told Sentinel reporters Tim Povtak and Brian Schmitz and what they say in their online question-and-answer session with Magic GM Otis Smith and Vice President of Basketball Administration Scott Herring, they don't plan to try to move into the first round of the draft and just will make their two second-round selections. That would indicate that the key to their offseason upgrades will be free agency, not the draft.

    The Magic give no hints that they might make a big move to change the franchise on draft night as they have in the past. Of course, they have surprised fans before -- like the year they ignited a franchise-changing summer by trading Horace Grant for the draft rights to Corey Maggette and in 2004 when they made a deal with the Denver Nuggets to obtain Jameer Nelson to pair with Dwight Howard. So you never can rule it out. All the trade talk leading up to the draft seems to suggest that some big moves will be made by some teams on draft night, though -- and those deals might not necessarily involve the draft.

    You can read the Magic's entire question-and-answer session here. But to hit the high points:

    -- The Magic likely will take the best players available. They are drafting 44th and 54th, meaning it's going to be difficult to tell who still will be available when they pick. That makes it tough to draft for need. The Sentinel also has reported in the past that they are not likely to try to get a first-round pick this year because that player would receive a guaranteed contract, and the Magic need the salary-cap space for free agency.

    -- Since the Magic don't have a first-round pick this year after giving it up in the deal that brought Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo to Orlando, it's understandable that there hasn't been much news about the team bringing in prospects for workouts. Smith reveals here, though, that even in the traditional draft years, he and assistant GM Dave Twardzik put more emphasis on the players' body of work leading up to the draft process and interviews they conduct with the players to get to know them as people than on individual or two-on-two workouts.

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    The Orlando Magic are expected to contact Seattle SuperSonics small forward Rashard Lewis and make a contract offer to power forward Darko Milicic on Sunday when the NBA free-agent market officially opens for business.

    While the Magic don't believe New Jersey Nets guard Vince Carter or Detroit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups will leave their respective teams as free agents, they also will aggressively gauge their interest as well. Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Wallace also could be on the short list.

    But according to those close to the situation, the 6-foot-10 Lewis is the Magic's prime target. The Magic are looking for a proven scorer, and Lewis averaged a career-high 22.4 points per game last season, tying Kevin Garnett among league leaders. For Orlando, Milicic and Lewis are intertwined in their master plan this summer.

    They need to make a decision rather quickly on Milicic before they can attempt to sign a high-salaried star such as Lewis. Milicic carries a phantom "cap hold" contract figure that projects his maximum value on the team's salary cap.

    Magic General Manager Otis Smith said Monday that he hopes an "amicable" deal can be reached with Milicic, a sentiment seconded by Milicic's agent, Marc Cornstein. Orlando can match any offer for Milicic, a restricted free agent.

    "This is a situation, on paper, where Darko should be re-signed by Orlando," Cornstein said. "We'll see on Sunday where we're at."

    A deal in principle could be worked out, although Cornstein likely will see what the market will bear. But only a handful of teams have enough cap room to sign Milicic.

    If the Magic and Milicic reach an impasse, Cornstein said a sign-and-trade of Milicic to another team would be an option. Cornstein said he expects to hear from a variety of clubs on Sunday who might be exploring a trade.

    If the Magic do re-sign Milicic, they likely must make other trades to sign Lewis, who could command a five-year deal at an average of $15 million per season.

    Lewis, who turns 28 in August, has averaged 16.6 the past nine years for the SuperSonics. But he has averaged more than 20 points per game the past three seasons, and scorched the Magic for 45 points during the 2006 season.

    Lewis, a 2005 all-star, opted out of his contract with the Sonics in late May, leaving $21 million on the table.

    Seattle can pay Lewis the most money, as it is the only team that can offer him a six-year deal.

    But the Sonics have the No. 2 pick in Thursday night's draft and are expected to select former Texas star Kevin Durant, who plays the same small-forward position as Lewis.

    Brian Schmitz can be reached at bschmitz@orlandosentinel.com

  • At 12:00 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Man i hope the guys can get it done with darko and lewis,we're on the verge of having a great summer. I'm also gonna watch the draft just in case otis has some tricks up his sleave to get into the first round for a player he covets.

  • At 4:16 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Yeah, I'll be very disappointed if the Magic can't work things out with Darko. I know some people don't really like Darko as a player (saying he's too soft and inconsistent), but he's only 21 and has shown flashes of outstanding play... look how well he played against DET in the playoffs. It would be foolish to give up on a young big man with his talent.

    To have both Darko and Rashard Lewis in the fold would cap off a great summer by the Magic in terms of improving the team.

    Of course, hiring Stan Van Gundy as coach greatly improves the Magic at that spot also.

  • At 4:23 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    If the Magic can sign Lewis, I think the worse case scenario would be us following up with a sign and trade with Darko. I don't think Otis is dumb enough to let him go for nothing.

    However, if Otis can work some Magic, and we can sign Lewis, while retaining Darko, we're going to right to the top of the East next season.

  • At 10:54 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    It's late June, which means it's time for everybody to start telling Otis Smith how to run his business.

    The first item on the agenda is Thursday's draft. The advice here is to take the 44th and 54th picks and try to sell them on eBay and buy Police tickets.

    The real item of business is free agency. It starts at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, but the game plan is already in place.
    "I want it all," Smith said.

    By all, he means he'd like to sign a top-shelf scorer like Rashard Lewis and re-sign Darko Milicic. It also would be nice if Grant Hill returned, Jameer Nelson grew six inches and the Lakers traded Kobe Bryant for Fran Vazquez.

    In the real world, a few people have it all. None of them is an NBA general manager. So the Magic may well face a critical question:

    Potential or performance?

    Milicic or Lewis?

    You have to go with Rashard, who is letting it be known he'd like to be here.

    But first, why can't the Magic have it all?

    They could if there were no salary cap and Rich DeVos felt like gambling big on a 7-foot Serb. Milicic will start entertaining offers on Sunday. He'd love to get $10 million-plus a season, which hopefully would include a Breathalyzer test for whatever general manager who offered it.

    The only thing crazier than Darko getting that kind of money would be the Magic matching it. But even if he gets a $6 million-a-year offer, Orlando will have a hard time keeping him.

    That's because Lewis comes with the NBA maximum price tag of approximately $15 million per season. (Don't stop to ponder how unreal that amount is. It only will depress you.)

    There are ways to clear enough money for both players. Imagine a starting front line of Milicic, Lewis and Dwight Howard in the watered-down Eastern Conference. Billy Donovan might change his mind again and ask for his old/new job back.

    There are ways it can happen, the foremost being to move Hedo Turkoglu and his $6 million contract. But a lot of unlikely things have to fall into place.

    "Anything can be done," Smith said. "It might not be easy, but it can be done."

    If it can't, the Magic should invest in Lewis for a lot of reasons, the least of which being he was named after Ahmad Rashad. We're not sure who Darko was named after, but if it's a Serbian sportscaster, the guy is probably Bob Costas one night and tongue-tied the next.

    You just never know what you're going to get with Darko, other than teased by his potential. Stan Van Gundy recited the facts Tuesday.

    Milicic's a 7-footer. He just turned 22. He can shoot, block shots and rebound. You don't let an asset like that go unless doing it leads to something better.

    At 27, Lewis is entering his prime. He averaged 22.4 points a game last season, which is one point better than Milicic's one-game career high. And he wants to come to Orlando, where his outside skills would complement Howard's talents.

    Sure, Milicic could turn into a Serbian Jermaine O'Neal for another team. Or he could remain the Darko Mystery.

    "Showing flashes to getting the job done every night -- that's what sets guys apart," Van Gundy said. "Everybody in this league is capable of having a great night. It's the guys that do it night in and night out that are valued."

    Lewis would do it every night. If you can't have it all, that's the guy you take.

    David Whitley can be reached at dwhitley@orlandosentinel.com

  • At 10:57 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    As much as i like hedo,if his salary stands in the way of darko and lewis getting signed than he has to go,we'd be losing a streaky non-defender,i cant see keeping that over the potential of having the best front court in the east!

  • At 2:24 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    If Lewis is coming to Orlando, I actually think Hedo should be out regardless. Don’t get me wrong, I like Hedo. But they are both 6-10, play the same position, and are similar players; of course one of them being better and just a lot more consistent.

    I'm not sure how the salary cap will work. From what I understand, the Magic should try and seal with deal with Lewis immediately. Move onto Darko right after, as he is our player and we can match any offers he receives. Once they have both of them committed, then worry about dumping other players to make it less painful with the salary cap. Again, I’m not sure how all the details pan out, but I know there is a way to make it happen.

    No matter what happens, the only thing that can’t happen is Darko walking without receiving anything in return. I want Darko here period, but if they can’t make it happen for whatever reason, then they need to get something in return for him.

  • At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If only we could get rid of Hedo so easily...He's a nice guy, of course, but his performance last year made him one of the worst starting small forwards in the league.

    But because of his contract length, I'm afraid Hedo is virtually untradable. I also don't think we receive immediate cap relief by dumping him. So we'll have to be more creative about finding ways to acquire Lewis and keep Milicic.

  • At 3:54 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    I should correct myself. In no way would I ever want to "dump" or cut Hedo. I like Hedo. He has 3 years left on his deal. He's making 6-7 million a year over the next 3 years. I know he's had his ups and downs, but I wouldn't give up on him. Under a better coach, in a better offense he could be very valuable. Also, if you recall, he played his best basketball when Grant Hill WAS NOT playing. I never thought they worked well together, just as I never thought Grant worked well with any of our key players. He's only 28, and I'm pretty sure he could fill a spot on any NBA team in this league whether it was as a starter or a role off the bench. As for his salary, I don't consider him overpaid or underpaid. There are a ton of players worse than Hedo making far more than he is. Hedo is not that bad of a situation if you ask me.

    However, Otis rarely mentions his name and I've been wondering if there is a reason why. Think about it, Howard, Darko, Nelson, Redick, and Ariza are always mentioned. I believe this to be the core, they would like to add to these guys, and everyone else is expendable.

  • At 7:30 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    I get kind of confused at times by the salary cap and the salary rules regarding trades. If the Magic were to trade Hedo and his $6 million salary, wouldn't the value of the players the Magic receive in a trade also have to be around $6 million (according to the NBA rules regarding trades that say the value of the players being traded would have to be similar)? How would that allow the Magic enough room to sign both Darko and Lewis if they traded Hedo, since they would be getting a similar salary in return? Or could the Magic just cut the players they receive in a trade? Would they still be liable for the salary of any player they might cut, or could they use that money to re-sign Darko?

    Also, what is the salary cap going to be this season and what is the penalty if a team goes over the cap?

    If one of you guys could clarify this I'd appreciate it.

  • At 3:34 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Sentinel writers are useless. Did anyone of them ever asked how some teams that are way over salary cap are dealing with it? Simple; they are adding equity on the overall value of the team. To answer Mike's question, I think for every dollar that a team is over the salary cap, they pay a dollar as penalty.

    As for Darko's situation, the Magic management deserves it for being stupid. Did anybody ever answered the question as to why the offer that was on the table for Darko was pulled off? As of now Darko has a choke hold on a potential salary cap of about 10 mil which would not be released until he is signed or traded or released. By 12.01am on Sunday, Darko is entertaining offers and there may not be enough time to arrange for a sign and trade. Magic has no choice but to match the highest offer for Darko, and hope that would be done quick enough that Rashard Lewis is still available. As for matching numbers on trades, Mike is right. If Hedo is traded in a way to offset some of the salary to be paid to Rashard - meaning SEA to sign him and then trade with Magic - Hedo's salary is not enough which means about 9 mil to be thrown in, and that is probably Darko's salary. The problem is nothing could be done before Darko's situation is cleared up. Magic management has put itself in this situation by pulling Darko's offer. Sometimes stupidity is a bless because a stupid one does not feel all the pain that a wise person feels when looking at the mistakes that are made.

  • At 4:12 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    I know the salary cap has been this way in the past, but I'm not sure if it still is now...

    Example, in the past, the Magic could offer a free agent, or Lewis, as many dollars as they are under the salary cap. Once that deal is done, even if they are at the cap and appear to have no money left… It is to my understanding that they can go over the salary cap to match any offer Darko receives because he is our own player.

    That is how teams go so far over the cap, because they're resigning their own players, and you can give any one of your players a raise, regardless if you are over or under the cap. The Heat are an example of a team that got screwed once with this. They had a huge summer; I believe it was Juwan Howard they signed. But somehow they messed up and signed Zo first, and Howard's contract was canned by the NBA, and then they couldn't sign him because Zo’s deal was done, and Washington ended up signing him, after they thought they lost him.

    As for sign and trades... I'm not sure either... I was always thought that with sign and trades the dollar amount didn't have to match up exactly, and there was a certain % they had to get within. Example, when we did the sign and trade so Grant Hill could get the MAX, was there anyway possible Wallace and Chucky were getting paid anywhere near Hill's contract?

  • At 11:56 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Thanks for the input Matt and OVERWADED.

    Matt's right about the Magic management being foolish to take their offer to Darko off the table just before last season. I never did see a reason as to why the Magic did that, but it's obviously going to cost them a lot more money to re-sgn Darko now.

    I hope the Magic won't be shy about going over the salary cap, which they'll probably have to do to re-sign Darko if they do wind up signing Rashard Lewis.


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