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, August 30, 2007

Final Product?

Posted by Scott Anez


With the signing of Polish center Marcin Gortat, General Manager Otis Smith checked off the final task on his summer to-do list this week. So, with 14 contracts heading into 2007-2008, what you see on the current roster is what you're gonna get come September 29.

Coach Van Gundy, it's up all up to you now brotha!

Let's take a snapshot of this Magic team as we head toward training camp.

Point Guards: Jameer Nelson, Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling.

Magic brass believes that Jameer will rebound this season under Coach Stan, who hopes to take pressure off his point guard with his early offense. We need Jameer to take over a leadership role with this club. Coach Van Gundy is a Keyon fan, having coached him at Miami. Expect to see Keyon playing more of a role as a backup point. Carlos is a great talent. The hope here is that the new coaching staff is able to tap into consistency from Carlos. The point guard spot is definitely a concern heading into camp. We need more heady play, play-making and on-ball defensive pressure from our point guards this year.

Question: Can Jameer start creating for his teammates?
Shooting Guards: Keith Bogans, JJ Redick, Trevor Ariza.

If the glass is half empty in your world, you view two guard spot as a potential problem area. If you're Joel Glass, well, you look at this position as being stocked with versatility. Bogans had a falling out with Coach Brian Hill last year. But he's another guy who gets a reprieve under the new coaching staff. Bogans is a tough minded defender who could be the starter come Halloween night. JJ's gonna get a lot more love this year but I just don't see him becoming a full time starter. Trevor will see some time at the 2 as well because, frankly, he's our best defender. Hedo Turkoglu may also get some p-t at the two, but I have my doubts about him defending that position. The two guard spot has great versatility, but with Grant Hill moving west, this is have to be gonna be shooting guard by committee this season.

Question: Can JJ become the offensive weapon we think he can be?

Small Forwards: Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Trevor Ariza, Pat Garrity.

Without a doubt, this is the most fortified small forward position in the NBA. Lewis is the guy, but again, there's much versatility here. Lewis and Hedo can play the power forward position if need be. Lewis can also play the 2. Depending on matchups, so can Ariza. Hedo was on the trading blocks over the summer but will be back after a down year last season. This position will certainly be a strength.

Question: Can Rashard become the go-to-guy we desperately crave?

Power Forwards: Tony Battie, James Augustine, Marcin Gortat.

I have a lot of respect for Tony. He is a warrior. But, he's not cut out to play 30-plus minutes per game anymore. With Darko now in Memphis, the pickup of free agent Adonal Foyle was huge. Foyle will back up both Battie and Dwight down low. Augustine is young and energetic but still has a long way to go. Gortat brings the bulk. But, again, he's young, green and will have to learn the NBA game on the fly. As good as Dwight is, the power forward spot is more than adequate.

Question: Can we keep Tony Battie healthy and relatively fresh this season?

Centers: Dwight Howard, Adonal Foyle.

Have you seen Dwight in the FIBA Americas tourney yet? He looks like a monster! Granted, Dwight is still shooting bricks at the free throw line. But, playing alongside the likes of Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant will undoubtedly rub off on the young 21 year old phenom. The addition of Foyle adds a much needed low-post defender and shot blocker to the club.

Question: Coach Ewing, can you help Dwight develop an 8-10 foot jumper to keep defenses honest?

So, there ya go. A snapshot of the 2007-2008 Orlando Magic.

Coach Van Gundy, win or tie, we're with you....
But…there still is a chance the Magic could make a deal.
As reported, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran point guard Anthony Carter on Wednesday.

Carter was signed to a two-year deal last season and he wasn't eligible for league assistance with his minimum salary of over $1.1 million. Therefore, if he's waived and not claimed by another team, the Nuggets can re-sign him to a one-year deal and get league assistance that will save the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Nuggets are hopeful he won't be claimed by another organization, and if that turns out to be the case, the team will likely re-sign him.

However, if another team picks up Carter, the Nuggets will be only left with Chucky Atkins and AI at the point guard position. AI often doesn’t run the point, which is why we saw Steve Blake and Carter playing the position a lot. So if someone picks up Carter, the doors for the Magic/Denver trade could be reopened, as they might really need a player like Dooling or Arroyo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What does a douche bag look like?

I'm sorry for the title guys; I didn't mean to compromise the "professionalism" of our blog, but if I said what I really thought of this douche bag, the post might get a MA ratings.

Here is the latest news:

Rosen rallies the troops for sports-venues fight
Mark Schlueb, Sentinel Staff Writer

Van Gundy speaks to Orlando Magic season ticket holders

Tim Povtak Sentinel Staff Writer
August 29, 2007

First-year Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn't promise a championship just yet – that will come later -- but he did promise today a team this season that will be considerably more exciting than it has been in many years.

"We need to put a product on the floor that you can get excited about," Van Gundy said. "We have a roster of players and the talent now to compete with anyone in the Eastern Conference. It's our job to deliver."

Van Gundy was speaking Wednesday to a breakfast audience at the RDV Sportplex of 150 new season ticket holders. His message was clear: This team will be an improvement from the one that finished with a 40-42 record and was rudely swept in the first round of the playoffs. After the season, the Magic fired coach Brian Hill after two years on the job.

"There are 30 organizations in NBA that talk about winning a championship, but the difference is whether they have the commitment to make it happen," he said. "We have that commitment here.

"The most noticeable difference in the Magic this season will be forward Rashard Lewis, a free agent who was signed to a six-year, $118 million contract, a more wide-open style of play, and an increased emphasis on taking 3-point shots.

The Magic don't open training camp until Sept. 29, but Van Gundy said he is itching to start it today, and his players already are in good enough condition to do it.

"I'm like a kid at Christmas just waiting to open his first present," he said. "We don't have a single guy on the roster who isn't working on his game on a daily basis right now. That's rare in the NBA during the off season. We've got four weeks to go, but I think everyone is ready."

The Magic have had Van Gundy speaking to a variety of season-ticket holders in the last few week, providing a glimpse of what to expect this season. The Magic have 14 players already under contract.

He said Wednesday that the off-season conditioning of his team should help with a fast start and a faster pace. He also said that despite speculation to the contrary, he has not settled on any kind of a lineup just yet, preferring to let his players battle in training camp to determine who plays.

"I know a couple guys who are going to start (Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis), but after that, it's pretty wide open," he said. "It's not my job to keep everyone happy. This organization is focused on results. We've got 14 guys under contract, but that doesn't mean they can relax. Every fall there are 15-20 guys in the league with contracts who get cut."

Although veteran forward Bo Outlaw is not on the Magic roster today, and he is unlikely to receive a guaranteed contract, there is a good chance that he will be on the training camp roster, hoping to earn a spot for this season.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Once again, Jameer hosts Orlando teammates for bonding session

In this summer of professional sports gone tilt, the accountable often get overlooked. But they are out there, doing it the right way.
For the second consecutive summer, Jameer Nelson invited all his Orlando Magic teammates to Philadelphia for a weeklong bonding session - at his expense. And every member of the team, except those involved with the Tournament of the Americas in Las Vegas took Nelson up on his offer.
The players arrived Sunday. Every day, they congregated at Summit Sports in Bryn Mawr for morning training under the direction of Jim Ferris. In the afternoon, they went to Haverford College for a 2-hour basketball run. At night, they went out to dinner as a team. Last night, the final evening together, they headed for Atlantic City.
"This improves the relationship that you have with your guys," Nelson said.
His Magic teammates in town included Rashard Lewis, Orlando's big free agent prize from Seattle. Nelson especially wanted Lewis there.
"It's important for Rashard to come in hitting the ground running," Nelson said. "He's our superstar. It's good that he's here with the guys. Obviously, I am doing this to help us win."
Lewis had heard about what Nelson and the Magic did last year.
"When he called me and told me they were going to be doing it again this year, there was no hesitation on my part," Lewis said. "I figured it was a chance to get to know all these guys on a personal level before we go to training camp."
Ferris is in charge of Summit's summer program. The Magic players got a dose of the boxing, yoga and running that are staples of the program.
In addition to the training, the hoops, the dinners and the fun, the players also got a 40-minute lecture Wednesday morning from Dr. James B. Maas, a longtime professor of psychology at Cornell, the man who coined the term "power nap" and author of "Power Sleep".
Maas explained that the vast majority of us are sleep deprived. He also explained that athletes who get the proper amount of sleep get a significant edge.
His suggestions were all common sense that most of us never even consider. Go to sleep at the same time and get up at the same time. No alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. No distractions when about to sleep.
NBA players, of course, have some issues with late night flights and crazy schedules. But the point was still the point. A rested athlete is a better athlete.
And, yes, they did play hoops. Wednesday afternoon, several Sixers, including Lou Williams, Jason Smith and Derrick Byars, joined the Magic players at Haverford. When word gets out about a run, the secret does not last long. Villanova's Kyle Lowry and Malik Allen were there. Yah Davis and Dwayne Jones from St. Joe's were there too.
There was no scoreboard, clock or officials - just a bunch of guys running up and down the court, as a team from Florida got to know each better in Philadelphia because a player from Chester High and St. Joe's just wants to do it all right.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today's News

Source: Orlando Magic, Adonal Foyle agree to terms
Veteran center Adonal Foyle has agreed to terms with the Orlando Magic, according to a league source, waiting only for his agent/attorney to return to the country to announce the deal. It could come by Friday.

Oakley thinks he can help Magic

Blog -- Magic Basketblog

Next Up For The Orlando Magic

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top Story From The Sentinel

Hotelier Rosen pushes for referendum to derail venues

Political Pulse blog: Hotelier Harris Rosen launched a petition drive today to overturn a $1.1 billion downtown sports and arts venue plan recently approved by city and county leaders, a move that could derail or delay the projects -- or at the very least drive up the costs.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trade Status:

In an update on the possible Evans/JR Smith trade, Hoopsworld.com said:

The Denver Nuggets are not trading Reggie Evans for Pat Garrity and/or Keyon Dooling. The Magic may want Reggie Evans for that package, but informed Nuggets sources say if the team really put Reggie on the market they could get more than Garrity’s ending deal and Dooling for him. The Nuggets have some depth in the frontcourt so this is not the first call they have had about parting with a big man. The Nuggets still want to add some shooting, but trading big for small is not in the plan at this point. The Magic, on the other hand, are looking for any way to get some quality frontcourt help without getting into a nasty luxury tax situation next year. To avoid that they either have to convince Adonal Foyle to join the cause in central Florida or they have to trade off a contract - if they are taking back a player with years left on their deal. Hedo Turkoglu is the popular trade target for incoming teams, but the Magic would rather trade a limited use piece like Garrity than lose a player they like a lot in Hedo. If the Magic are serious about improving, and it seems that they are, they may have to part with a better chip than Garrity - but for now they are bargain shopping and that might be the answer as the Magic open training camp in late September.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Arroyo vs Dooling: A closer look at the numbers

Since both Keyon Dooling and Carlos Arroyo have expiring contracts at the end of this season, if the Magic had to trade one of those players, which one would they be better off trading? Here's a look at their stats from last season:

Arroyo's numbers are first followed by Dooling's numbers in parenthesis:

G........ 72 (66)
MIN.... 18.1 (21.8)
PPG.... 7.7 (7.9)
FG%.... 42.5% (41.1%)
3 PT FG%.. 27.5% (32.3%)
FT%.... 79.5% (80.9%)
AST.... 2.8 (1.7)
TO..... 1.3 (1.1)
AST/TO... 2.2/1 (1.5/1)
REB.... 1.9 (1.3)
STL.... 0.5 (0.8)

When one averages their numbers out to a whole game (48 minutes), here's what they look like (with Arroyo's numbers first):

PPG.... 20.4 (17.4)
AST.... 7.4 (3.9)
TO..... 3.4 (2.5)
REB.... 5.3 (2.9)
STL.... 1.3 (1.8)

Their stats are remarkably similar. In nine statistical categories, Dooling has the advantage in five categories, while Arroyo has the advantage in four. However, when their numbers are projected out to a full game, Arroyo gets a clearer advantage in several categories, because Arroyo achieved his numbers in fewer minutes of playing time per game than Dooling. The better categories for Arroyo are his AST/TO ratio, points per 48 minutes, and rebounds per 48 minutes, while Dooling is a better 3 pt shooter, a slightly better FT shooter, and steals the ball slightly more.

In fairness to Dooling, he was played out of position at SG most of last season by Brian Hill; that's the main reason his assist numbers are down. Also, even though Arroyo averages more rebounds over the course of a game, Dooling is still the better defensive player.

Based on the numbers, a good argument can be made for either player not to be traded; it all boils down to personal preference.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nuggets/Magic trade not happening soon

Magic still in the market | floridatoday.com
Evans, 27, has proven himself to be a premier rebounder when given significant minutes and he's a better-than-average post defender. He could fortify a Magic frontline that will have Dwight Howard, Tony Battie and little else.

Payroll concerns also are an issue for the Nuggets, who have $78 million on the books for next season. Getting out from under the $18.8 million still owed to Evans during the next four seasons might appeal to Denver.

One rumored trade could feature the Magic sending Keyon Dooling and Pat Garrity to Denver for Evans and enigmatic shooting guard J.R. Smith. The Magic would have to throw in another low-salaried player to make the deal work. Both Dooling and Garrity have expiring contracts, something that would be appealing to the Nuggets.

Orlando also has a hole at shooting guard after losing Grant Hill to the Phoenix Suns in free agency. Smith would rise to the top of the depth chart in Orlando where his long-range shooting would complement Howard's low-post dominance.

"We still have a lot of conversations going on, but I wouldn't say we're close to anything right now," said Magic general manager Otis Smith, who was beginning a vacation with his family Tuesday. "We've talked to a bunch of people and we'll continue to do that."

The article continues to say the Magic only have the veterans $1.2 million exception left to spend. That may be used on Foyle. JR Smith shot 39% from 3 pt. line last year. He is talented, but a head case.

Of course, Dooling and JJ fans here probably don't like the idea. Dooling would be gone, and JJ would have trouble beating JR out for the starting SG. Evans could possibly start in front of Battie.

Anyhow, it's likely nothing happens for about a month:

"What's the hurry? You have to ask yourself, 'Who are we hurrying for?' " Smith said. "What guy out there right now won't be there later in September? Foyle is a prime example. We don't want to fill up our roster and have no room to do anything else down the road. We're going to be patient and if something makes sense, we'll do it."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More Magic Rumors

Magic eye veteran big man Foyle -- OrlandoSentinel.com


The Orlando Magic may have set their sights on veteran center Adonal Foyle, who became a free agent Monday when he accepted a contractual buyout from the Golden State Warriors

Foyle, who played his entire 10-year career with the Warriors, was due to make $8.9 million this season and $9.7 million next season. He accepted slightly less from Golden State to become a free agent. He now can sign with any other team in the league, knowing he already will be well paid.


The Magic also had been in contact with more highly-touted free agents like Chris Webber and P.J. Brown, but both are expected to command a higher salary than what Orlando can pay under the salary cap restraints.

Also still available among free agents are power forward Brian Skinner (Milwaukee), center Marc Jackson (New Orleans), center/forward Vitaly Potapenko (Sacramento) and center Jake Tsakalidis (Houston).
Foyle could be had for the veteran minimum, but Boston needs him too. Not sure that the Sentinel is accurate about Webber or Brown. There doesn't seem to be another team willing to give them the full exception, so either could be available for less than that. The Magic still have all of their exception monies available should they choose to use it.

Foyle plus Evans or Najera would be a huge improvement over Garrity & Augustine.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"The Rumor"

So I originally read and talked about this rumor over at MVN, under the column Final Piece of the Puzzle- Part 2: Remaining Big Men. After talking to Brendan over there, I went searching around the web and found the same rumor on some other sports blogs, Magic forums, and RealGM. I know it's just a rumor, but the deal makes sense; and it's not like we have anything else to talk about early in August.


I got a chance to talk to my friend that works for the NBA today. Anyway I asked him if he has heard anything about this deal. He said that it is true that this deal is on the table. Their are two things that are holding the deal up. (1) The Magic have gotten kind of greedy, they are asking for Eduardo Najera and Reggie Evans for Pat Garrity. Denver is not willing to do that deal (I can't say that I blame them). (2) Denver wants cash consideration to cover for Pat Garrity trade kicker. My friend told me that last thing he heard is that Orlando may be willing to back off the demand for Najera. Also they are willing to give cash to cover the trade kicker. Their is a good chance that the deal will happen. This is assuming that Orlando backs off of Nareja.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Former Magic guard Hardaway gets shot at comeback with Heat

Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O' Neal are together again.

The 36-year-old Hardaway, who last played an NBA game in November 2005, signed with the Miami Heat on Thursday and is reuniting with O'Neal - his former Orlando Magic teammate back in the mid-1990s.

"Penny is a player who has been an All-Star and has enjoyed an illustrious career," Heat president Pat Riley said. "We have been impressed at his hard work and dedication this summer to get back in shape and return to the NBA. He is a skilled player who can help us in multiple positions."

The team said Hardaway wasn't available for comment.

O'Neal, who has occasionally offered less-than-glowing comments about his time with Hardaway in Orlando, told the Heat he supports the move to sign his former teammate.

Hardaway, a four-time All-Star starter, has averaged 15.4 points in his career, but hasn't finished a season averaging double digits in scoring since the 2002-03 season with Phoenix. He played in four games with the New York Knicks early in the 2005-06 campaign before succumbing to knee injuries.

Hardaway figures to be a candidate to inherit the role Eddie Jones held with the Heat at the end of last season, someone who can play either shooting guard or small forward. Jones signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks last week.

Hardaway and O'Neal teamed to average nearly 48 points per game in their three seasons together with Orlando.

Hardaway was sent to Phoenix before the 1999-2000 season in a sign-and-trade deal for forwards Pat Garrity and Danny Manning, along with two draft picks. The Suns shipped him to the Knicks midway through through the 2003-04 season, and another trade brought him back to Orlando in February 2006 - for five whole days before the Magic waived Hardaway and his $15.8 million expiring contract.

At the time, Hardaway said he planned to continue playing. A year and a half later, he's getting that opportunity.

-From CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

Thursday, August 09, 2007


This was released today by the NBA.

NEW YORK, August 9, 2007 – In recognition of Dwight Howard’s outstanding efforts in the community and for his ongoing philanthropic work, the NBA has honored the Orlando Magic center with the Community Assist Award for July.

Dwight Howard was extremely active in the Orlando, FL community during the NBA season, including providing basketball camp scholarships and purchasing 40 tickets for each game for at-risk youth to have the opportunity to see the Magic in action. Howard’s efforts have continued during the offseason as well, in Orlando and his hometown of Atlanta, GA.

On July 2, Howard made a surprise visit to the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club which has more than 300 members. The club had been the victim of break-ins that resulted in the loss of a new television and computers. During Howard’s visit he announced that he would be donating $17,500 so the Club could replace the computer, purchase a new television, and buy new furniture for the younger children to enjoy.

During his visit Howard also decided to take 75 kids on a shopping spree with each child receiving a $100 gift card to spend on whatever they wanted. That afternoon, Dwight treated another group of kids from the Club to lunch at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

“I think the kids give more to me than I could ever give to them and it just brings a smile to my face to make someone happy,” said Howard. “It’s my obligation as an NBA player to give back whenever I can and it really is something I truly enjoy doing.”

In addition to his efforts with the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club, Howard also held his Third Annual Howard Basketball Camp during July. The camp, a program developed to strengthen communication in father and son relationships, was held at Atlanta’s Frederick Douglass High School and featured physical training, education and inspirational activities all hosted by guest speakers, community leaders and other professional athletes.

The Dwight D. Howard Foundation, Inc. is a faith-based organization whose mission is to help strengthen family relationships. The foundation’s goal is to bridge gaps that exist between parents and children. Through reading programs, after-school and computer initiatives, as well as adopt-a-child programs, Howard and his parents are committed to strengthening family relationships.

As the recipient of the NBA Community Assist Award, Howard will receive the David Robinson Plaque with the inscription, “Following the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson who improved the community piece by piece.” In addition to the plaque, a $5,000 donation will be given to the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club & House of Hope on Howard’s behalf.

The league presents the NBA Community Assist Award monthly to recognize players for their charitable efforts. The award honors the NBA player who reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

TV tangle looming for Magic games

Orlando Magic fans may have to pay extra to see an estimated 35 games on television this coming season unless Bright House Networks and Fox Sports Network can reach an agreement to avoid passing on the higher costs.The issue stems from the Magic's decision to switch those games from over-the-air provider WRBW-Ch. 65 to FSN, which currently is not part of cable provider Bright House's coverage in Central Florida.The majority of Magic games, carried on Sun Sports, will not be affected. Sun Sports and FSN are sister networks under the Fox Sports umbrella.It will be the first time since the Magic's first season in 1989 that they won't be doing in-house production for a flagship over-the-air station. Instead they will be selling the rights to all their games to one regional provider, a trend that already includes almost half of the NBA teams.Cathy Weeden, general manager of FSN/Sun Sports, said that negotiations with Bright House will begin soon and her hope is that the cable provider will add FSN to its general coverage.Sara Brady, the spokesperson for Bright House, said her company could add FSN but only as part of a sports-tier package, which would require an additional fee. "We believe it belongs on a sports tier. It's the logical place for this type of programming,'' she said. "The audience that wants it will be able to see it.''By putting it on a sports tier, according to Brady, it avoids passing on the higher cost to everyone else, many of whom don't want or need the extra sports programming.Said Weeden: "Our position is that local sports should be available to the widest possible audience, on an expanded basic cable.'' Central Florida is one of the few areas in the state that doesn't have FSN in the majority of cable-connected homes.Florida Marlins baseball and Miami Heat basketball are carried on FSN in South Florida. Terry Walden, director of broadcast operations and programming at WRBW-Ch. 65, would not comment on losing the Magic programming.Joel Glass, Magic vice president of communications, confirmed the team's decision to switch games to FSN."We're hopeful that Bright House and FSN/Sun Sports will come to an amicable resolution and continue to provide the best coverage for our fans,'' he said.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Has the balance of power shifted in the East?

ESPN - Writer roundup:

4. Does the addition of Rashard Lewis make the Magic a postseason lock?

Abbott: Like Boston, I feel the Magic need a top-flight point guard before they can be considered a reliable top Eastern team. And again, I'm feeling that barring a surprise there aren't a lot of Eastern spots up for grabs.

Hollinger: Again, not so fast. The Magic lost nearly as much as they gained between Hill, Darko and Diener, and their neighborhood just got tougher.

Stein: A lock, yes. Just because Lewis is way -- W-A-Y -- overpaid doesn't mean I don't like the idea of pairing Rashard with Dwight Howard. As long as we're only talking about finishing in the top eight, sure. Howard and Lewis aren't enough to lift Orlando to contender status, but those two get you in the playoffs in spite of some obvious holes around them.

Thorpe: Barring injury, probably yes. Especially with the new coach. They can play big or small effectively, and Dwight Howard should only keep growing as a player. Jameer Nelson is obviously a key, as is getting production from J.J. Redick. I like both to have better seasons this year.

Bucher: No lock, but I like their chances, as much because they hired Stan Van Gundy as having added Lewis to a team that squeaked into the playoffs last year. Boston is the only certifiable lottery team from last year joining the playoff mix and with the Wizards still a mixed bag and huge question marks about Miami, the Magic have as good a shot as they did last year. Which was good enough.

The ESPN "experts" opinion puts the Magic as a slight favorite for the 8th slot. The consensus here has Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, Toronto, Miami & New Jersey as making the playoffs with Orlando a likely 8th seed fighting it out with Washington and maybe the Knicks.

6. If the Celtics make the playoffs, which '07 East playoff team most likely will not make the playoffs next season?

Abbott: Gilbert Arenas could be the guy left standing at the altar, which would be especially troublesome for the Wizards, as he will be heading into free agency.

Hollinger: One of the Florida teams. Be great to see Stan Van Gundy and Pat Riley slugging it out for the 8 seed on the last day of the season; let's hope the schedule-makers come through.

Stein: The team that's about to be wracked with injuries but doesn't know it yet.

Thorpe: The Heat are in trouble. Ironically, they are beginning to look like the South Beach Lakers with maybe the best all-around player on the planet in Dwyane Wade, and little else beyond a few solid role players. It's no longer a question of "if Shaq can stay healthy," but "how many games will he miss?" Even if Wade can stay healthy all season, it may not be enough.

Bucher: Miami. It's hard to imagine Shaq and a healthy Wade not in the playoffs, but Shaq couldn't prevent a first-round sweep or attract any quality free agents and Wade's return is up in the air. And if it comes down to a battle between Orlando and Miami, I like the karmic and revenge-inspired motivation SVG brings to the table.

My own thoughts based on last years finish:

1. Detroit 53-29: will probably decline a little bit more and win 50. Saunders has never done a thing as a head coach to develop young players and the core is another year older. Detroit is likely done as a contender for the NBA championship, but will remain in the top 4 of the east for at least another year.

2. Cleveland 50-32: Bad coach. Bill Simmons called Mike Brown the worst finals coach since Brian Hill. As long as LBJ is healthy they will be in the top four and could win the east again.

3. Toronto 47-35. Excellent front office. Young team. Probably a lock for finishing somewhere between 3-6 this year.

4. Miami 44-38 Pat Riley could walk away at any time. Wade had a horrible shoulder injury. Shaq continues to fade away. And there isn't much else left. Mo Williams indicated he only visited Miami because his agent made him, but would never sign there as long as Riley was around. His suspension of Posey and Walker in the middle of the season for not being fit enough was heard around the league. Miami looks vulnerable to having an awful year unless Wade comes back really strong.

5. Chicago 49-33. I love Scott Skiles. They have loads of young talent, and an old proven center. Deng could have a huge year. Thomas could break out this year. And Yoakim Noah gives them defense, energy and spirit off the bench. Chicago is a likely candidate for best record in the East this year.

6. New Jersey 41-41. Likely to stay mediocre. Now that Vince Carter has his last big contract what will push him? Jefferson seems to be hurt a lot. And isn't Jason Kidd about 55 years old now? New Jersey seems to be stuck in the swamp and slowly sinking. It could be a 50-50 proposition that they either improve by 3 games or decline by 3 games next season, and 38 wins is out of the playoffs. NBA karma says if you don't add talent each year, you decline.

7. Washington 41-41. They haven't improved themselves in the off season. Arenas is coming off a bad injury. They seem to be in the exact same boat as New Jersey. Could easily miss the playoffs with only a slight decline.

8. Orlando 40-42. Only playoff team to upgrade their coach from last season. (Hurray!) There is suspicion that they may have not improved their personnel over the off season, but that is a stretch. Grant Hill's overall game was a shell of his past, despite o.k. numbers. Darko was all the potential of his potential. Lewis is firmly in his prime and his outside shot will finally open the paint up for Howard. Orlando has every right to believe it can pass Washington, New Jersey, and even Miami to climb to #5 this year.

The rest:

9. Indiana. 35-47 Horrible off season. Changed coaches, but for the worse? Team in turmoil, Diener may be #2 PG? Jermaine O'Neil doesn't know where he will be playing next January. They would be lucky to finish 9th again next year.

10. Philadelphia 35-47. Refused to tank last year to get a top pick. Good for them. Horrible GM. They are probably years away from making the playoffs again.

11. Charlotte 33-49. Added Jason Richardson, resigned Wallace. Cut Brevin Knight. Doesn't seem inspired enough off season to make the playoffs, but they should be improved.

12. New York 33-49. Bad second half. I have no idea what to think about a Marbury, Curry, Randolph combo for your 3 "stars." This could be a really bad idea, or might work and earn them an 8th seed. Marbury seems to be a good guy everywhere but the basketball court where he keeps the ball too long. Curry doesn't play defense and needs the ball. Randolph doesn't play defense and needs the ball. This could get ugly (and comical.)

13. Atlanta 30-52. Stupid ownership group. Bad coach. Worse GM. Great draft. Will probably finish with about 37-38 wins.

14. Milwaukee 28-54. Yi is the new Vazquez.

15. Boston 24-58. KG is still great. Anyone should want Ray Allen on their favorite team. Pierce is a bit of an enigma. Bob Ryan (Boston Globe/ESPN) calls players 4-15 the worst in the NBA. Bill Simmons thinks the big 3 can magically coach themselves and win despite Doc Rivers being on the bench. I disagree. None of the 3 have finals experience. Rivers has never won a playoff series and has never liked any big man who has played for him. This could be a bigger disaster than the Knicks if Rivers sticks around and Ainge can't build a bench.

My guess:
1. Chicago
2. Cleveland
3. Detroit
4. Toronto
5. Magic
6. Miami
7. New Jersey
8. Boston

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Magic 2007-08 schedule released

The Magic will open one of their most highly anticipated seasons in franchise history on Wed. Oct. 31, hosting MIL. DET comes to Orlando on Fri. Nov. 2nd. Then, things get really rough for the Magic, as 24 of their next 37 games will be played on the road, including five games in eight nights on the West Coast from Nov. 26th through Dec. 3rd. The Magic wind up the season playing 15 of their final 22 games at home, including 10 homes games out of 14 in March.

Some key home dates:

MIA-- NOV 24, JAN 30
WAS-- MAR 19, APR 16
BOS-- NOV 18, JAN 27
DET-- NOV 2, JAN 21
CLE-- FEB 11, MAR 17
CHI-- JAN 15, APR 9
SA--- MAR 25
PHO-- NOV 10
UT-- DEC 21

For the complete schedule, click on the link for the Magic web site.