One NBA columnist who does not like what the Magic did this off-season
To Marcin Gortat, who parlayed one "little hit" (a solid playoff performance) into a $33 million deal that, if you're a Dallas fan, you should be happy isn't clogging up your cap right now. I liked Gortat heading into the summer as a great value risk in the "four years, $17.6 million" range. Nothing higher. Dallas offered him nearly double, which made sense because this is the same team that inked Raef LaFrentz, Shawn Bradley, DeSagana Diop and Erick Dampier to more than $225 million in "Why the hell did we do that?" deals. Then Orlando shocked everyone by matching … you know, because any time you can pay $7 million a year for someone who plays 10 minutes a game, you have to do it.
So what now? Poor Gortat is being stalked by the ghosts of Jon Koncak, Jim McIlvaine, Jerome James, DeSagana Diop, Luc Longley, Todd MacCulloch and every other free-agent center who was overpaid in the $30-33 million range and immediately turned into a stiff. Dallas had to go to Plan B: throwing away $4.5 million on a goofball like Drew Gooden. As for Orlando …
So Orlando makes the Finals with an unconventional lineup and a style that confounded just about everybody. The Magic flip three backups for Vince Carter, seemingly solving their hole at shooting guard that Kobe exploited so brutally. (I had them as the favorites in the East after that trade.) What possessed them to spend $50 million on Gortat and Brandon Bass over just bringing back Turkoglu and making another run at the title? Now they're just a conventional NBA team with conventional guys in conventional positions … um, that's not how you made the Finals, fellas.