Magic for NBA Championship?
Here are the pros:
1) Dwight Howard. Although not a polished offensive machine yet, the potentials are extremely high for Dwight to develop into a force of unique characteristics.
2) Rashard Lewis. An accomplished offensive player in his prime. Can he be as good defensively? One has to remember that Jordan was an aberration excelling in both offense and defense. Most contemporary NBA players are more talented in one than the other.
3) Stan van Gundy. Coach SVG is a no nonsense humble leader who scores well with the players. He may not be as glitzy as some other high profile coaches, but he stands taller than many of them in terms of hard work, dedication, communication skills and the ability to adjust when need be.
And the cons:
1) Ownership’s myopia. The ownership is not smart enough to see the advantages of building equity in intangibles while taking losses in the short term. Their persistence in staying under the salary cap is detrimental to the success, or lack thereof, of the team in the long term. Their move to go after Billy Donovan – or Stan Van Gundy – and signing up the most coveted free agent at all costs was intended to show their future commitment in order to secure the arena approval.
2) Inexperienced General Manager. Otis Smith has been a combination of success and shortfalls. In all honesty, I can’t relate all the success on his side to skill or wisdom since plenty of rookie mistakes are made right next to them. This summer, it would have only taken a phone call to keep Darko and his agent warm until the Rashard Lewis’s situation had been taken care of. Instead there was an unfortunate blow-up that hurt the Magic’s interest, regardless of who said what and who went over the board. Magic could have signed Darko later based on the Bird’s rights with the type of contract that Memphis offered him if the messy situation was prevented.
3) Clear holes in the team’s roster. Frontline and backcourt issues are persistent. The starters for the PF and SG positions are not well determined, while the PG position is not addressed yet. In the meantime, based on Jameer’s performance of last year, he could not be slated as the point guard of the future. Players could not be moved around willy nilly, as was done in Brian Hill’s time. Neither one of Hedo and Rashard are known for defense, and starting them at SF and PF positions would be a defensive gaffe despite their ability to spread the floor for Dwight. The question is how many points would it mean for Dwight as opposed to the points given on the defensive side? That issue would be magnified more if Jameer and J.J. are the starters at 1 and 2 both considered defensive liabilities.
Unless the ownership changes its approach with regard to going the cheap route – on the salary cap issue, as well as hiring highly qualified professionals to run the business – the championship dream is just that, a dream. The problem is that all determining elements have to converge within a 3-5 year span, which is hard to bring about. The capable Coach, the heavy weight GM, the insightful Ownership combined with the core players are the necessary ingredients for success. Any missing ingredient would impede or hinder the probabilities of achieving the objective. To think that Dwight and Rashard are locked up for the next five years based on their contracts is foolish. How many times disgruntled players on dysfunctional teams asked for trade, or the teams have decided to break up and go for re-building?
As it stands, there are not many indications that the ownership will change. Therefore, the best chance for the Magic and the city of Orlando to compete for the NBA championship is for the current ownership to sell the team.