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.

Friday, June 01, 2007

An unexpected coup for Magic, and good for Donovan too

The following column was written Thursday on CBS SportsLine.com by SportsLine staff writer Tony Mejia. He's right on with a number of his observations...

I wasn't sure Billy Donovan had it in him to leave Florida. Not after spurning Kentucky and not after giving his blessing to his four star underclassmen to abandon his program, essentially holding their hand through it as they wept, and then planning on staying put in the aftermath.

No Florida Gators fan should begrudge him for taking what is rumored to be a $6 million dollar deal. He leaves on top, following repeat championships, with his legacy intact.

Most shocking of all is that the Orlando Magic ponied up the cash to complete this transaction and woo Donovan away. This franchise has done nothing but take the safe and often stupid route time after time over the past decade.

I've seen this all up close, and everyone, from front office to fan base, is guilty of it.

This is indeed a magical turn of events for Orlando basketball. Kudos to GM Otis Smith, who becomes a hero. Bob Vander Weide, Dave Twardzik, all those guys who convinced owner Rich DeVos to open his wallet and get Donovan to venture south from Gainesville - if I were in town, I'd invite you all down to CityWalk to celebrate. A round on me.

You've guaranteed yourselves not only a new arena but a winner as well. Consider what Orlando has done since losing Shaquille O'Neal; there has been a player mutiny led by Penny Hardaway; a 3-1 playoff choking against Detroit that came after the best player to come through the city since the Diesel declared victory a foregone conclusion; they hired a hockey guy, John Weisbrod, to run the team; they gambled on Steve Francis and thankfully were able to fleece the Knicks to remedy that; they re-hired Hill, who cultivated little improvement.

The only smart thing they did was draft Dwight Howard, who will benefit so much from Donovan that I expect to see astronomical improvement by the time 2008 comes around.

Orlando has, in one single move, become relevant again. And even if Donovan fails, conventional wisdom is that he can always return to the college game the way mentor Rick Pitino did. He has had a nice re-birth, no?

But he won't fail. He's walking into a wonderful situation and was smart enough to recognize that. The Magic made his choice all the easier by ponying up the jack. I honestly never felt they had it in them. The climate has changed. Orlando wants to be more than mediocre.

The only loser in all this is the game of college basketball, specifically the University of Florida, losing a man who now becomes a living legend. They will suffer but ultimately will rise again thanks to the spirit Donovan created, one that proved you can win at a football school.

Congratulations, Billy. You made the right choice. See you soon.

- by Tony Mejia, CBS SportsLine.com


  • At 9:20 AM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    Still need another high energy big and a shooter, now more than ever.

    Hiring Donovan is the first significant move by the team in 17 months. Hopefully there is more to look forward to this summer.

    Right now here's what he's got:

    The role of Al Horford (rebounding, muscle, clutch shots) will be played by Dwight Howard. There's a lot to work with, but the clutch shot thing is in Al's favor.

    The role of Joakim Noah (energy, blocked shots, rebounding, passing, chest thumping) will be played by Darko. Does Billy give chest thumping clinics?

    The role of Corey Brewer (leadership, clutch shooting, ball handling, assists, shut down defense) will be played by Trevor Ariza. Here's hoping Trevor keeps working on his shooting. Rashard Lewis or Gerald Wallace anyone?

    The role of Taurean Green (steady, team oriented point guard) will be played by Jameer Nelson. Billy the gritty point guard should enjoy working on developing Jameer's game.

    The role of Lee Humphrey (white-guy spot up 3 point shooter, little else) will be played by J.J. Redick until further notice. Mike Miller anyone? Memphis is likely to have a going out of business sale.

    The role of Chris Richard (beastly big off the bench) will have to be played by Tony Battie until further notice. Team is in dire need of an upgrade here.

    The role of Walter Hodge (PG spark of the bench) is currently Carlos Arroyo. Here's hoping that Carlos and Billy mesh well.

    17 months ago Darko and Arroyo showed up with two years of experience being coached by Larry Brown. They were well versed in floor spacing and ball movement. By January of last year that had been coached out of them by Hill and his staff.

    The last two Gator teams won by having a huge skill advantage, but also were well coached. Evidence of this is they frequently were losing early, then adjusted. Their team defense was the best in the nation and they were tough to beat inside or out. Their 5 best players averaged between 13.3 to 10.3 points a game. They had a great inside-out style of offense. They made almost 300 3 pointers in a 40 game season.

    Donovan could succeed, but Otis needs to bring lots of help this summer.

    Oh, and retire Grant Hill.

  • At 10:55 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Rashard lewis is needed now more than ever,donovan doesnt favor players that struggle with shooting,this hire isnt good news for trevor fans. jameer,JJ,rashard,darko and dwight would give donovan a line-up he likes to use,all three perimeter players can shoot the three and the two bigs compliment each other. Unless trevor improves dramatically on his range,not his jumper (his jumper looked good at the end of the season but he still has no three point range),he'll be used off the bench as an energy defender and never have a major role,the other four players (jameer,JJ,darko and dwight)seem to be ready for starting roles under donovan.

  • At 2:25 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    I'm going to give credit to the magic for finally making a splash and hiring a big name coach,that most importantly has a plan. Today is a good day for all magic fans. With billy being able to play small-ball with the best of them much like golden state this year,so many of our players just became better without even playing a game (jameer,grant,hedo,trevor,jj,dwight and darko),plus some players just may have elevated themselves because this coach favors three point shooters (travis,jj,keith,pat,none were starters) without having to play a game,this summer's going to be fun,and boy training camp is gonna be a dog fight to make this NEW team,one thing i know about donovan is he favors points scored,if you can score the ball you have value.

  • At 8:24 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    In the past few days I've actually found myself with a loss of words in regards to the Magic.

    I'm really excited about the hiring of Donovan. I guess I just didn't think the organization had it in them.

    I was thrilled enough when we finally fired Brian Hill, but the excitement faded a little when I started thinking we'd hire a "recycled coach".

    But the Magic really blew everyone out of the water with this one. Day after day, nobody thought there was a prayer of Donovan even considering this job, and then it breaks and the deal is done. And today, the sports headlines belonged to the Magic, even though James dropped 48 points last night.

    I'm even just excited to see what he can do with all of our own players; however, I'd still like to see us make at least one significant move.

    So I guess we have a month until we see what the next move/moves are. Until then, I'll let myself relax and be happy to be a Magic fan.

  • At 12:54 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Did any of you guys watch Pardon the Interruption on ESPN Friday afternoon? Billy Donovan was the guest, and I thought he carried himself very well, and made a really good impression. He realizes what a great opportunity for him this is coaching the Magic.

    WeRDevos, you know your Gators basketball, that's for sure! Nice post, comparing the key UF players on the championship squad to the current roster of Magic players.

    Rashard Lewis or Gerald Wallace would look good in a Magic uniform next season.

    I felt a lot like OVERWADED did, that I was fearful of the Magic signing a "recycled" head coach, particularly after MEM signed Marc Iavaroni. True, almost anyone would have been an upgrade over Brian Hill, but this signing of Donovan is exactly what this franchise needed.

  • At 11:15 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Darko= Joakim Noah,athletic big men who can shoot from the outside and dribble on the perimeter at their size. Dwight= Al Horford,athletic big men who can run the floor,dominate the low block offensively and rebound with the best of them. Jameer= Taurean Green,shoot first point guards that can score from anywhere and hit the spot-up three. JJ=Lee Humphrey,Shooting guards that can stretch the floor being able to hit the three in transition,spot-up three and playing off of screens creating shots for themselves or others. After looking at those four players,you can see that they fit the exact same mold of the championship college basketball team,obviously the college game is a little different,but this is a quick indicator of the roles. The only thing the magic are missing is a corey brewer equivalent and there lies our real problem. We need a small forward who can hit the spot-up three,transition three,and defend well,currently we dont have that. Grant cant shoot three's and neither can trevor so both should be back-up's,hedo doesnt play any defense so he should be traded,everyday rashard lewis makes more sense to fill that small forward position for us because he can do those three things we need at that position. With billy and that starting five i think he could have a ton of success because he would be really coaching the same type of collection of players that he had at florida. I posted this may 10th under the headline "More Billy Donovan Theories,i was able to make those same comparison's almost a month ago so WeR and i are on the same page.

  • At 7:09 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Yeah, you did make that post almost a month ago, Big Figure. You know your SEC and UF basketball too!

  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    No matter how you look at it, this was a great move for the Magic organization. I stated a short while ago that the organization needs to create excitement to secure the construction of the arena, as well as win back the unhappy fan base, and this move just accomplished both those objectives. it also created an environment that is conducive to attracting big name free agents. The next test is to go after a shooter with no fear of going slightly over the salary cap. I agree with Big Figure that more and more Rashard Lewis makes perfect sense. He may be a bit older and cost more than Gerald Wallace but is more consistent and a better shooter. Additionally, Gerald Wallace has not quite been an exemplary citizen.


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