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, July 14, 2009

This One's For Matt

When Mavs raise the stakes on Marcin Gortat, Magic turn the tables - ESPN

John Hollinger of ESPN on Otis Smith's pick-pocketing Dallas for Brandon Bass:

We saw a perfect example Monday, as a spectacular piece of card playing by Magic general manager Otis Smith left the Mavericks slack-jawed, while once again illustrating the dangers of signing offer sheets early in the free-agent period.

Smith shocked nearly everyone by matching Dallas' five-year, $34 million offer sheet to Marcin Gortat, the Polish backup center who is unlikely to play more than 10 minutes a game next season because he's backing up all-world center Dwight Howard. Fans haven't seen much of Gortat because he's stuck behind Howard, but the dude can play -- he's mobile, rebounds well and can score. But between salary and luxury tax, Gortat will cost the Magic close to $12 million this year, which is nearly a maximum salary.

When Dallas presented the offer sheet, Smith said he wanted all seven days to make up his mind and would have taken eight if he could have. But don't believe him. He knew exactly what he was going to do all along.

Every good team does -- in preparation for free agency, it runs through all the scenarios of what another team might offer its players, and if so whether it would match. The Magic almost certainly knew on July 1 whether they were matching this deal; they just didn't let everyone else in on the secret until today.

In fact, it's quite likely they sprinkled some leaks indicating that they wouldn't match; surely it was believable given their status as a luxury-tax team in an old arena in a small market. Why pay so much more for a secondary piece?

But if they already knew they were matching, it was a brilliant stroke, because it allowed them to get a second player at a discount price. Remember, Gortat isn't the only big man Orlando inked this week -- the Magic also signed Brandon Bass to a four-year, $18 million deal. And Bass, you'll surely remember, played for the Mavericks last season.

By making Dallas believe that they wouldn't match the offer for Gortat, they were able to throw the Mavs off the scent of Bass. At the time, the Mavs were thinking letting Bass go to the Magic would eliminate any chance of losing Gortat. Here's what The Dallas Morning News reported at the time: "The Mavericks stepped aside in negotiations for Bass, allowing him to sign with the Magic. His presence with the Magic virtually guarantees that Marcin Gortat will be a Maverick. He signed an offer sheet … and Orlando has until next week to match the offer … The Mavericks are no longer worried about that possibility."

Psych! This is Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown, folks. Orlando created the impression that it was going to let Gortat leave, the Mavs fell for it hook, line and sinker, and as a result the Magic got to sign the player they coveted at power forward (Bass), in addition to keeping Gortat like they always knew they would.

The only drawback is that their clever little ruse was darn expensive. Gortat and Bass combine to put the Magic about $10 million over the luxury tax; next year, that figure will be closer to $20 million. For wee little Orlando to fork out that kind of money is a serious commitment, especially since its new arena is still a year away from completion. Clearly, owner Rich DeVos and team president Bob VanderWeide are willing to sacrifice a chunk of their bank account over the next two years to win a title, and the people of Orlando shouldn't take this for granted -- many owners wouldn't do the same.

And in case you get any sneaky ideas, remember that Gortat can't be traded until Dec. 15, can't be traded without his consent for a full year, and can't be traded to Dallas at all until next summer. So don't think the Magic are holding Gortat for ransom -- the rules on offer sheets are set up to avert those kinds of shenanigans. This is strictly a buy-and-hold maneuver.

Orlando is a mid-market area at best. The new arena will be moved into sometime in 2010. No one believed this would happen, because the Magic have been so conservative (read cheap) with their money. But here is from the wikipedia site on Rich Devos:

Richard DeVos, Sr., (born March 4, 1926, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.) is an American billionaire and co-founder of Amway (restructured as Alticor in 2000). In 2006, Forbes magazine listed him as the 73rd wealthiest person in the United States with an estimate net worth of USD$ 3.5 billion. In 2007, Forbes ranked him as the 249th richest person in the world. [1] (at one point he was in the top 10 of wealthiest Americans).

So Devos is real old, a recent heart transplant recipient, rich as hell, and just made a lot of extra money on the Finals run. He can't take his money with him, why not spend some now and win a championship.

It's about time.


  • At 6:06 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Nice piece by Hollinger.

    It is a bold and risky move by Otis Smith to match Gortat's offer sheet so that the Magic could retain him, but it proves the Magic are indeed serious trying to bring a championship to Orlando.

  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    It was well played. Dallas was convinced all they had to do was not compete with Orlando for Bass and they would get Gortat.

    The Mavs took what they thought was a small risk, and they got burned. If Battie was worth $7 million then Gortat is surely worth $5.9. Bass' contract is $4, $4, $4, $4 with some incentives thrown in. That's relatively inexpensive too.

    The issues presented by the salary cap are 1. it limits your flexibility in trades or signing free agents and 2. the team has to write checks to the league.

    No one cares about #2. If the Magic wind up cutting $20 million checks to the NBA they aren't going out of business. They wouldn't even being scratching at 1% of DeVos net worth.

    #1 is taken care of because this team is already a legit threat to an NBA title, the #1 contender to win the East again, and they still have that $8 million trade exception that gives them the flexibility of an insurance policy.

    If you are going to go above the cap and into Luxury tax territory, this seems to be a pretty damn good way to go about it.

  • At 11:00 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    I predicted that this could happen, and it would be a smart move following through on the Vince Carter's trade. As a matter of fact, if Gortat was not retained, VC's trade would have been a foolish move. There is nothing in the Hollinger's piece that I have not mentioned before, except that considering this whole process a plot is quite a stretch. GMs do not play these kinds of tricks because their credibility is on the line for any future deals that they may want to pull off.

    Where I part ways with you guys, and some clueless media, is that I don't give all the credit to Otis Smith. This has been decided at a higher level in Magic organization. Smith is not the type of GM - like Jerry West - who has a Cart Blanche to wheel and deal as he desires. What I need to retract is my statement of calling the Magic organization cheap. I officially apologize in my tuxedo, and pledge that after today I would never call them cheap again.

  • At 1:04 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    The Magic now have ten players under contract, with a total of $77,919,216 invested in those ten players, according to HoopsHype.

    The Magic are now fourth in the NBA in team payroll. The top three teams:

    1) LA Lakers... $84,613,733
    2) Boston... $79,230,991
    3) New Orleans... $78,842,118

    There are currently ten teams above the luxury tax threshold of $69.92 million.

    Only two teams in the top ten did not make the playoffs last season: Washington (6) and the NY Knicks (8).

    With three or four more players left to sign to fill out the roster, the Magic payroll figures to be around $80 million for next season, with $50.3 million invested in Lewis, Howard, and Carter.

  • At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Adonal Foyle said…

    Weird Gortat is coming back. Seemed destined for Mark Cuban.

    Wonder if this will mess with the Magic rotation?

  • At 2:02 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Matt, you said that you don't give all the credit to Otis Smith.

    Actually, that might be your way of giving Smith a little credit after all, because at least you didn't say that you don't give Smith ANY credit.

  • At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dallas fan here

    The article relies on Dallas Morning News reporting of the strategy and tactics the Mavs were using.

    That is such a joke. It was apparent once the season ended that Bass would not come back to Dallas. He wanted money and minutes and he was not going to get either from Dallas. Singleton gives the Mavs the same thing, only cheaper (check out their stats and you will see).

    If I had to guess, the Mavs knew all along they would not retain Bass, but wanted to help Bass out a bit and so played the game. Once they came up with an excuse to step aside, they did quickly. (Ah, we are going to get Gortat, there go your minutes Brandon, we will help you get signed by Orlando).

    Bass is solid and you will like him (I have posted my thoughts elsewhere). Mavs would have liked to keep him, but only at a role player backup price.

  • At 9:40 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    Yes, Mike. I will give credit when credit is due. The problem is nobody knows how much of the credit goes to Otis Smith. What I know about Magic organizational structure is that they don't give much of a leeway to the GM. Typically, the GMs that they had were not heavy weight experienced professionals who had held GM positions - or above - for a long time prior to being hired or promoted to the position.

    My hard guess is that Magic organization at the highest level, may be as high as Rich DeVos himself as WeRDevos has mentioned, are convinced that the time is now to push for a championship, and being the good accountants that they are, they understand that pushing deep into the play-offs may offset a 10-12 mil extra payroll. All the signs were there when they traded for Vince Carter, but then there were mixed signals on the way forward.

    Gortat is not the right piece in their tapestry for a 2-year span; 10 minutes behind Dwight could be filled in by Bass or Foyle - or likes - and they need a power forward. He is not the shortest way but may be the surest way of getting the PF that they need in addition to being a solid substitute if Dwight gets injured. I applaud the decision of retaining Gortat considering that they will now be about 10 mil over the salary cap which will cost them 20 mil in reality. I still cannot believe that they were this bold, but may be by having a look at last season's play-off books they are convinced that they can offset the cost by generating revenues.

  • At 11:09 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    "The problem is nobody knows how much of the credit goes to Otis Smith". Matt i respect all your comments to the fullest. But it seems as if you think ownership had something to do with the right players being signed. Otis has picked the players by himself basically and ownership has opened their wallet,to me thats pretty easy to see,both played an equal but different part. Otis having played the game (being that he was a hard nosed PG/SG) knows what type of players fit best in basketball systems,and if i was going to give credit to otis it would be for picking the right guys which i know the devos's had nothing to do with. The devos's get credit for spending the money to get the guys otis wants,bottom line.

  • At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Brian said…

    Why are you giving so much credit to a gm that just signed Marcin Gortat to a near max deal of 12 million a year????

    Right there is the reason why everyone views the magic fans as "bandwagon" because they just lack the basic basketball knowledge. C'mon guys Gortat for that much money is insane.

  • At 1:01 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    I see the morons have come out of the woodwork again.

  • At 1:13 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Big Figure:

    You have a valid point in Otis Smith being intimately involved with picking the players, and getting the Magic brass to buy into his selection. None of that would have mattered though if the organization was not ready to endorse the idea of shooting for the championship now. I am trying to depict Otis Smith for who he really is; nothing more or less.

  • At 2:53 PM, Anonymous The Zen master said…

    The black mamba get Ron "the artist" and you get a washed up Vince Carter? and then your gm signs gortat for what 10-11 milliion a year for multiple years... And you expect to go for a ring this upcoming season????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Please enlighten me to how you are going to beat LA in the finals with Vince Carter instead of Hedo?

    Amuse me, im in need of a laugh.

  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    I'm amazed there are Laker fans who are happy about getting Artest and giving up Ariza and Odom.

  • At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Odom is still a free agent the last time i checked dumbass.

    yes Artest is better than Ariza...I know you do not know much about basketball but it is true.

  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Ariza was offering as much as Artest could except that he was younger and more loyal. If Lakers let Odom go, they will not go far next season.

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    It'll be interesting to see if Gortat lasts the whole season with the Magic; the soonest he can be traded is Dec. 15th, but only with his permission.

    My guess is he'll stay the whole season.

    If Howard gets in foul trouble or gets injured, Gortat will be solid playing for D12.

    The Magic were even talking about the possibility of playing D12 and Gortat together more.

    With Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson now aboard at PF, this gives the Magic lots of possibilities with different frontcourt combinations.

    Rashard Lewis will probably play more at his natural small forward position now, with Mickael Pietrus coming off the bench able to spell either Lewis or Vince Carter.

    The Magic certainly did not have all this lineup flexibility, especially in the frontcourt, last season.

  • At 6:31 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    Is there anyone out there from LA who can carry on civil discourse? Or do we just get the same troll with differing names.

    In case you missed the news, the Lakers pulled their offer off the table for Odom today. If they go through with this they have lost both Ariza and Odom to free agency and brought in Artest. As a Magic fan I like our chances. Ariza played out of his mind in the Finals and the Magic had no answer at all for Odom. Odom and Ariza were 4th and 5th in minutes played for the Lakers. They are going to need more than Artest to make up that contribution.

    If the Lakers don't resign Odom, they'll have a tough time getting by San Antonio next year.

  • At 6:43 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    I'm tired of the morons we've attracted. I've turned off anonymous commenting for now, in the future commenters will need to log in to either their blogger ID or OpenID in order to comment.

    All the regulars should not have issues with this, but e-mail me if you do.

  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger Ken said…

    Just the same laker trolls and their bandwagon bullshit.. Life in LA must really suck if they need to come to a Magic blog to show their ignorance.

  • At 6:50 PM, Blogger Ken said…

    Thanks WRD, maybe this will put a end to these classless twits.

  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    My apologies to "Dallas Fan Here" who is just the kind of guest you want to invite in for a beer.

    Which reminds me how jealous I used to be of Mark Cuban and the tenacious way he spent money on salary in search of a title. It's damn weird to see the Magic outspending Dallas next season.

    It feels good to have reached this point.

  • At 7:04 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 7:12 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    "Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity."

    That about covers it all, as to why comments are being deleted.

    Nice job WeRDevos!


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