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, June 30, 2009

Magic free-agent recruiting carrot: A championship ride

The Magic will break the bank (going into the luxury tax) to sign players, but the price is costly. With little to spend and more players to sign, they must rely on an age-old recruiting tool to attract free agents.

Sell 'em on the parade.

"We're a pretty attractive place," GM Otis Smith said.

The Magic can offer free agents more motivation than money after making it to the Finals last season.

While most players will take the money, there are those older veterans who haven't played on a contender or who want another title shot.

The Magic probably will try to sell this to players such as Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Grant Hill, Joe Smith, Drew Gooden and Eddie House, to name a few.

And, of course, Hedo Turkoglu.

Turk will officially become a free agent a stroke past midnight tonight after opting out of his contract.

He turned down the Magic's initial contract offer. A figure of four years, $36 million is being bandied about by Magic sources, but it's a figure the Turkoglu camp disputes.

Whatever. Hard to tell who's telling the truth and who's playing poker in these things.

The fact is that Turk, 30, is looking for his last big deal in a tough economy and marketplace. He's probably played his last game with the Magic, who likely took themselves out of the bidding for him by signing Vince Carter.

Turk's camp is still willing to talk, and Smith said he'll reach out to Turk soon after the free-agency period begins.

The Magic will have to dig deep into the luxury tax to afford him. There's no other option, really.

Of course, unless owner Rich DeVos just adopts him and puts him in the family will. BSchmitz.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Carter to Magic deal finalized

Here is the complete article from Yahoo! Sports written by AP Sportswriter Tom Canavan:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—Vince Carter is going home to Orlando, and to the Eastern Conference champion Magic.

The New Jersey Nets dealt the eight-time NBA All Star, who grew up in Daytona Beach and lives in Orlando, and forward Ryan Anderson to the Magic on Thursday for point guard Rafer Alston, shooting guard Courtney Lee and power forward Tony Battie.

The trade gives the Magic another star in a lineup that already includes Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis. The deal might also convince Hedo Turkoglu, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent on July 1, to remain with the Magic.

Orlando is hoping Carter, who has averaged 23.5 points over a 10-year pro career, will provide center Dwight Howard with a perimeter scorer who can create his own shot—something they lacked in losing the NBA finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.

It’s also an indication the Magic believe their time is now.

“Vince gives us a veteran, go-to scoring presence, especially at the end of games,” Orlando general manager Otis Smith said in a statement. “Our goal remains the same—to win a championship. Any time you can add an All-Star to help you reach your goals, you have to do it.”

The Nets get a solid backup for point guard Devin Harris in Alston and a talent who showed flashes of stardom in Lee.

Lee, a rookie from Western Kentucky last season, was a late first-round pick in 2008 and turned out to be one of the Magic’s few bright spots in recent drafts. Lee started 42 games and was a solid contributor for the Magic last season, averaging 8.4 points per game.

But the Magic were willing to give up Lee to acquire Carter and clear payroll.

With Jameer Nelson already named the starting point guard for next season, the team was looking to move Alston—and his $5.25 million contract that ends after next season.

Alston was acquired at the trade deadline from the Houston Rockets after Nelson suffered what was then called a season-ending shoulder surgery. Alston’s acquisition largely saved the Magic’s season, but when Nelson was able to return for the finals, Alston complained about his minutes and the point guards never could find their rhythm.

The Magic’s biggest cost-cutting move is parting ways with the 33-year-old Battie, who will make $6.2 million next season in the final year of his contract.

The trade gives the Nets some $18 million in salary cap relief for the 2010-11 season.

Carter’s departure ends the era of the Nets’ Big Three. Point guard Jason Kidd was traded to Dallas early in 2008 and Richard Jefferson was dealt to Milwaukee on draft day a year ago for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

Carter carried most of the offensive load for New Jersey last season, along with Harris and rookie center Brook Lopez.

Anderson, a 6-foot-10 forward who was the 21st pick overall in last year’s draft, started 30 games and averaged 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Associated Press Writer Antonio Gonzalez in Orlando contributed to this report.

Vince Carter to Orlando Magic deal near completion

Orlando and New Jersey have agreed in principle in a deal that will bring Vince Carter to the Magic and send Tony Battie, Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee to the New Jersey, according to a league source.

The Magic have yet to confirm the deal, but the addition of a scorer in Carter, the trade would seem to end the Magic's quest to bring back forward Hedo Turkoglu for a long term deal.

There may also be a separate deal involving Nets 6-foot-10 power forward Ryan Anderson and a trade exception.

But there might still need to be some maneuCarter and Anderson's contracts add up to about $17 million, while the Magic's three players have salaries that add up to just under $13 million.

Carter is set to make $16.3 million next season and $17.3 million the following season with a team option in 2011-12.

Carter averaged 20.8 points and 5.1 rebounds last season in 80 games for New Jersey. Anderson averaged 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a rookie in 66 games.vering done because the salaries are way off

Shaq deal to Cavs to be finalized Thursday

Excerpts from an article by ESPN's Chris Broussard:

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns have come to an agreement on a blockbuster trade that sends Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland to team with LeBron James, according to sources.

Cleveland will send Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic to Phoenix for the future Hall of Famer. Sources said the Suns will also receive the 46th pick in Thursday's NBA draft and $500,000.

The trade gives the Cavs a player they've coveted since February. With center Zydrunas Ilgauskas starting to break down, adding Shaq to the roster gives them a dominant force in the middle. The Cavs were obviously unhappy with their ability to defend Dwight Howard in the playoffs and bringing Shaq into the fold should help. O'Neal averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season and made his 15th All-Star game.

For the rest of the article, click here

For off-season rumors and goings-on regarding other Eastern Conference teams, check out the post under mine by WeRDevos.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pre-Draft Rumors and Activity -- Eastern Conference

1. Eastern Conference Champs: Turk will opt out July 1 from last year 7.7 million per year. Said to seek $10 mil per year for five years with some combination of Portland, Detroit, Orlando and a Greek team interested. Otis has gone on record saying he will "be busy" this summer. We all hope it means improvements in backup PF and another defensive guard.

Note to Otis: I hope you are studying what San Antonio has done to surround their big man star over the years, and what they just did to keep his championship window open. You have to really respect the San Antonio organization, and hope the Magic seek to emulate them.

2. Cleveland: Shaq rumors are cooling. LeBron will be offered an extension, and turn it down as he looks forward to New York next summer. Varejo will opt out, Z will not. They are far over the cap and luxury tax numbers. Wallace and Pavlovic are trade chips in the last year of their contracts. Shaq would be sheer desperation, and would be the final nail in Lebron leaving for NY. Go to Cleveland Shaq! Go to Cleveland!

3. Boston: seems intent on getting rid of Rondo and Ray Allen. Rondo is great, but can't stand Rivers. Heh, maybe they can trade him for T-Mac! Ray Allen sure looked old against the Magic. The word is that Boston thinks Rajon is out of control and need to trade him before he gets the big bucks next year. Great news for the Magic if they dump Rondo. There aren't that many tough as nails PG's out there and I doubt Boston can get fair value for him.

4. I love Atlanta! Just as they are on the rise -- playoffs last year, 2nd round this year. They trade for Jamaal Crawford! Unlike Grant Hill, who has never seen the second round, Crawford has never seen the playoffs in NINE YEARS. Great addition! Right now he is set to come off the bench. However, if they don't resign Mike Bibby they may start Crawford at PG. I love Atlanta!

5. Miami -- Jermaine O'Neil announced he is not opting out. Great news for Orlando. Miami is almost at the Luxury Tax and can't do much to improve this year. Their best hope is Beasley improves in his second year. Can't believe that Wade can improve much on the great year he had last year. Interesting fact (if hoopshype is correct.) If Wade opts out next year, the Heat could potentially not renew any contracts and have ZERO players under contract for 2010/11. They could be right back to 1988 and an expansion team! (Good news for the Magic!)

6. Philadelphia -- Where is Andre Miller? Rumor is he skipped the mandatory end of season meetings and is a free agent. They have already traded for 3 point specialist Kapono from Toronto, have a new coach, and without signing Miller are only about $5 million from the cap. Elton Brand is, according to the new coach, going to be a central part of 76er's offense next year. Good news for the Magic!

7. Chicago -- up and coming. A lot going on with them. But they are already at the cap at $63 million, and it's a lock that Ben Gordon will (finally) sign elsewhere. Gordon turned down 5 years, $50 million two years ago. Since then he's played for 5 or 6 million a year. That's Deshawn Stephenson dumb(er). They have lots of young players who can get better, and lots of tradeable contracts. If their new GM is any good, they can move up to #4 next year. If Paxson is still (not) pulling the strings, they will be fighting for #8.

8. Detroit -- Loads of cap space but only if they don't resign Rasheed Wallace. If 'Sheed goes, so does a lot of their toughness and insanity. They could sign any number of players including Gordon, Turk, Odom, Ariza. Then again, those guys are from pretty great places to live. Who wants to live in a state where they are planning to tage federal dollars to bulldoze 50% or more of Detroits suburbs? Eeeck!

Best of the Rest: Toronto -- Bosch gone soon, Wizards just traded for Mike Miller and Randy Foye but no longer have a front line to compete with Boston or Orlando. New York -- is trying to trade for Shaq's expiring contract so they can sign Lebron and someone else next year.

So get busy Otis, the entire Eastern Conference seems poised to help the Magic repeat as EC champs!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Sentinel Grades the Magic

Grading how the Orlando Magic performed in the 2008-09 season -- OrlandoSentinel.com

I'm not sure what type of scorecard they use, but apparently 8.5 and above is all-star worthy.
SVG 9.0/10

Howard 9.3/10
Lewis 8.5
Turk 8.0
Lee 7.1
Nelson 8.5 before injury 2.0 in finals

Alston 7.5
Gortat 7.0
Foyle 1.0
Battie 5.0
Richardson 1.0
Pietrus 6.0
Redick 5.5
Johnson 7.0
Lue 1.0
When you look at the bench and see no true 6th man you have to give Stan Van Gundy a tremendous amount of credit for coaching them to the Finals.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Players under contract for the Magic next season

Now that the exciting playoff run for the Magic is over, let's take a preliminary look at what the Magic roster will look like next season, focusing on the players who are all under contract through at least next season (all salary information courtesy of hoopshype.com):

Rashard Lewis PF........... $18,876,000
Dwight Howard C........... $15,133,800
Tony Battie C/PF............ $6,292,000 (final season of contract)
Jameer Nelson PG.......... $6,138,888
Mickael Pietrus SG/SF... $5,300,000
Rafer Alston PG.............. $5,250,000 (final season of contract)
J.J. Redick SG................. $2,139,720
Anthony Johnson PG...... $2,000,000 (final season of contract)
Courtney Lee SG............. $1,264,440

That comes out to $63,254,536 in salary for nine players, with three players having expiring contracts that could be used in a trade.

Magic players who will no longer be under contract:

Hedo Turkoglu SF (His agent has already indicated that Turkoglu will opt out of his player option for next season in a few weeks)
Tyronn Lue PG
Marcin Gortat C
Jeremy Richardson SF
Adonal Foyle C

The Magic have indicated they would be willing to spend the luxury tax if necessary to re-sign Turkoglu. Click here for the complete article from cbssports.com.

Should the Magic re-sign Turk? How about a sign-and-trade? What about Gortat? Should they keep Alston as Nelson's backup at the point? Should they make an attempt to trade any of their players who have expiring contracts next season?

Feel free to leave your comments.

Monday, June 15, 2009

NBA FInals Game 5: Lakers 99 Magic 86

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers, who won their 15th championship in franchise history, and Lakers' coach Phil Jackson, who won his tenth championship as coach, the most in North American pro sports history. Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP.

The Magic started out fast, as they jumped out to a 19-10 first quarter lead, but the Lakers cut the lead to 28-26 after one. The tide really turned against the Magic in the second quarter, when the Magic had a 40-36 lead. The Lakers proceeded to score 16 points in a row to go ahead 52-40, and made eight of their last nine shots in the quarter to lead 56-46 at the half. The Magic made just two of their last twelve shots of the half, and committed four turnovers in that span.

The Magic looked like they would come back and be competitive in the second half, as they cut the Lakers' lead to 58-53, but the Lakers outscored the Magic 18-8 the rest of the quarter to lead going into the fourth 76-61.

The Magic tried to make a run starting the final quarter, as they came within 80-67 with just under ten minutes remaining, but the Lakers went on to their largest lead of the game at 91-73 with just over four minutes remaining. The Magic, who shot miserably from three point range, made three three pointers in the final four minutes to come as close as 95-84, but it was too little, too late as the Lakers celebrated their title on the Magic home court with the 99-86 win.

Magic leading scorers

Rashard Lewis: 18 points (6 of 19 field goals, 3 of 12 three point field goals), 10 rebounds, 4 assists
Hedo Turkoglu: 12 points (4 of 8 field goals)
Rafer Alston: 12 points (5 of 15 field goals, 1 of 6 three point field goals), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
Courtney Lee: 12 points (5 of 11 field goals), 4 rebounds
Dwight Howard: 11 points (5 of 9 field goals), 10 rebounds, 3 blocks

Los Angeles leading scorers

Kobe Bryant: 30 points (10 of 23 field goals, 8 of 8 free throws), 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks
Lamar Odom (bench): 17 points (5 of 12 field goals), 10 rebounds
Trevor Ariza: 15 points (5 of 12 field goals), 5 rebounds, 2 steals
Pau Gasol: 14 points (6 of 9 field goals), 15 rebounds, 4 blocks
Derek Fisher: 13 points (4 of 7 field goals), 4 rebounds

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: LA 43.8% (35 of 80) ORL 41.5% (34 of 82)
3 PT FG%: LA 50% (8 of 16) ORL 29.6% (8 of 27)
FT%: LA 75% (21 of 28) ORL 62.5% (10 of 16)
REB: LA 47 (13 offensive) ORL 36 (6 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 20/13 LA 13/12

Other game notes and stats:

-The Lakers dominated most statistical categories as they outshot the Magic from the field, three point line and free throw line along with outrebounding the Magic and one less turnover
-The "Big Three" of the Magic (Howard, Lewis, and Turkoglu) combined to score just 41 points
-Lewis and Turkoglu combined to shoot just 10 of 27 from the field
-Alston and Lee combined to shoot 10 of 26 from the field
-Lewis, Lee, and Alston combined to shoot 4 of 20 from three point range
-J.J. Redick led the Magic reserves with 8 points on 3 of 3 shooting
-Other than Redick, the Magic reserves shot a combined 6 of 17

Congratulations also to the Magic. who had arguably their best season in franchise history. Absolutely no one predicted the Magic to make the finals before the season started; all the talk in the East was Cleveland/Boston. The Magic shocked Boston in Game 7 in the second round, and shocked Cleveland in six games to win the Eastern Conference Title to advance to the finals.

Here is the complete recap from nba.com

Here is the complete box score from nba.com

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bryant on brink of fourth championship

Here are excerpts from a column by Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports from Friday:

He missed 20 shots in the Lakers’ 99-91 overtime victory in Game 4, yet still totaled 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Two nights earlier, he had burned out after an explosive first quarter.

This time, his legs didn’t fail him when he needed them most. Bryant opened overtime with consecutive jump shots, then drew a double-team and fed Derek Fisher for an open 3-pointer. The shot pretty much pierced the Magic’s final hopes. It certainly taught them a lesson: Give Kobe too many chances and he’ll eventually find a way to beat you.

The Magic have two days to put themselves back together and recharge, and that will help. But the same holds true for Kobe. On his way out of the arena, he sighed at how tired he felt. The Magic have worn on him, but so have all those long playoff runs, those two summers playing for Team USA. His Game 3 struggles forced Lakers Nation to spend a restless couple days on Fatigue Watch.

Bryant delivered another memorable opening quarter in Game 4, but he, again, had to grind through the night. The fuel that carried him through was the same it’s been all week: He can’t stomach another empty trip to the Finals.

The Magic know how hot Bryant burns, and that’s why their Game 4 collapse stings even more. They had a chance to make Bryant and his Lakers feel some pressure. In the fourth quarter, they took 17 free throws while the Lakers shot none – and still they lost.

Now, barring an unprecedented comeback – no team has ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals – the Magic will look back on this series and wonder about what might have been.

What if Courtney Lee’s twisting layup in Game 2 had fallen through the rim?

What if Howard had made just one of his free throws with 11.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Game 4?

What if Hedo Turkoglu had made one of the four free throws he missed in the quarter?

What if Stan Van Gundy had told the Magic to foul the Lakers on that fateful final possession of regulation?

What if Jameer Nelson had realized that backpedaling on Mr. .4 wasn’t exactly the best defense?

The Magic have shown their resilience time and again in these playoffs, but they sounded like a tormented team afterward. Van Gundy said the decision not to foul Fisher will “haunt me forever.” Rafer Alston pouted over his lost minutes. Howard made sure everyone knew he wasn’t the only guy missing free throws. Turkoglu blamed himself for rimming out foul shots … and failing to call timeout on a busted inbounds play … and picking up a silly foul – a hat trick of mea culpas.

The game, Turkoglu said, “just kind of slipped away from our stupidness.”


The Magic are 3 point favorites to keep their season alive in Game 5.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Magic still believe despite Game 4 loss

Here are excerpts from an article from AP Sportswriter Tom Withers from early Saturday:

On Friday, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy admitted that his team’s fumble of Game 4 with atrocious free-throw shooting, a hideous third quarter and questionable late-game strategy, kept him awake.

It may for many nights ahead.

Maybe years.

With only a few hours to reflect on what went wrong Thursday night in Amway Arena, Van Gundy, who elected not to have his team foul with a three-point lead in the final seconds of regulation, was asked if a night’s rest had brought him any clarity.

“The assumption of a night’s sleep is way off base,” he said.

Leading 87-84 with 11.1 seconds to go, the Magic allowed Fisher, L.A.’s Mr. Big and Bigger Shot, to dribble into the frontcourt and hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left. Fisher, who would stick a fork into the Magic’s hopes—and in all likelihood their season—with another 3-pointer in OT, made his shot over Orlando guard Jameer Nelson, who was slow to react to Fisher’s pull-up.

During a timeout after Magic center Dwight Howard had bricked the two biggest free throws of his young career, Van Gundy had told his team, which went just 22 of 37 from the line, not to foul. Too much time left, Van Gundy thought. And not with Kobe Bryant around.

“I’ve rethought it and rethought it and rethought it,” he said as the team’s took a two-day break before Sunday’s Game 5. “It’s easy to say now do I wish we had fouled as opposed to giving that up? Yeah, but I still don’t think at 11 seconds to go in a game that we’re going to foul in that situation. I’ll put it this way: You always have regrets.”

Still, Van Gundy feels his squad, which has twice taken the Lakers to overtime and carried Orlando’s fans on a stomach-churning, turn-twisting journey this season as wild as any ride at Disney World, is capable of an historic comeback.

“It’s not like we’re in a situation where we feel like we can’t play with the Lakers and don’t have a chance to win or anything else,” he said. “Our confidence level will be high. Our guys have demonstrated incredible resiliency all year.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

NBA Finals Game 4: Lakers 99 Magic 91 OT

Fifteen missed free throws and nineteen turnovers absolutely doomed the Orlando Magic in Game 4, as the Magic could not hold a five point lead in the final minute of regulation as Los Angeles scored five points in the final 32 seconds to send the game into overtime where the Lakers scored 12 of the final 13 points in a devastating loss for the Magic.

The Magic led 24-20 after one quarter, and extended their lead to 51-39 at the half. The Lakers had a monster third quarter, outscoring the Magic 30-14, with Trevor Ariza scoring 13 of those points by himself, to take a 67-63 lead into the fourth quarter.

It was an unbelievably tense and exciting final period, as the Magic found themselves trailing 73-67 with 8:12 remaining, but went on a 20-9 run to take control of the game at 87-82 with 1:34 remaining. Pau Gasol's dunk made it 87-84 with 32 seconds left, and Dwight Howard was fouled with 11 seconds remaining. He missed both free throws, and Derek Fisher's three pointer with 4.6 seconds left stunningly tied the game. Mickael Pietrus's jumper did not come close at the end of regulation.

Rashard Lewis, who had an awful night with just six points, made a three pointer to give the Magic a 90-87 lead to open the overtime. The Magic would miss their remaining six shots while the Lakers would come back and pull away.

Magic leading scorers

Hedo Turkoglu: 25 points (8 of 13 field goals, 8 of 13 free throws), 5 rebounds
Dwight Howard: 16 points (5 of 12 field goals, 6 of 14 free throws), 21 rebounds, 9 blocks, 7 turnovers
Mickael Pietrus (bench): 15 points (4 of 8 field goals)
Rafer Alston: 11 points (5 of 13 field goals)

Los Angeles leading dcorers

Kobe Bryant: 32 points (11 of 31 field goals), 8 assists, 7 rebounds
Trevor Ariza: 16 points (6 of 14 field goals, 9 rebounds, 2 steals
Pau Gasol: 16 points (7 of 14 field goals), 10 rebounds
Derek Fisher: 12 points (5 of 11 field goals), 2 steals

Overall Game Statistics:

FG%: ORL 41.9% (31 of 74) LA 41.8% (38 of 91)
3 PT FG%: LA 34.8% (8 of 23) ORL 33.3% (7 of 21)
FT%: LA 75% (15 of 20) ORL 59.5% (22 of 37)
REB: ORL 41 (7 offensive) LA 39 (10 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 17/19 LA 15/8

Other game notes and stats:

-The Magic made 18 of 37 field goals in the first half, just 13 of 37 field goals after the half
-The Lakers made just 14 of 42 shots in the first half, 24 of 49 after the half
-The Magic made 10 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter; the Lakers did not attempt a free throw in the fourth
-The Lakers outscored the Magic 84-69 from the field, and attempted 17 more field goals
-Field goal percentage was basically even, but the Lakers had a solid advantage in free throw percentage and fewer turnovers
-The Magic used a ten-man rotation, with J.J. Redick scoring six points with three assists in addition to Pietrus's 15 points
-Marcin Gortat added four points, two rebounds, and a block in four minutes
-Jameer Nelson played the entire fourth quarter and overtime, scoring two points with three rebounds and three assists
-Other than Turkoglu, the Magic starters combined to shoot 13 of 39 from the field
-Howard and Turkoglu combined to make 14 of 27 free throws
-Rashard Lewis led the Magic with four assists, but scored just six points on 2 of 10 shooting
-Howard's nine blocks was a Finals record
-This is the first time since 1984 that two Finals games have gone into overtime

Here is the complete recap from nba.com

Here is the complete box score from nba.com

Game 5 will be Sunday night in Orlando, where the Magic's season will be on the line.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Secret of Magic Success

7-0 and hope she sings tonight.

No LeBron? No problem for NBA Finals

Here are excerpts from a column Wednesday from Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel:

ORLANDO, Fla. – Kobe Bryant let out a long, tired sigh as he took a seat in the interview room on Wednesday.

He looked exhausted, although he wouldn’t admit it. He had no such hesitation in acknowledging his wariness of the Orlando Magic as they try to square the NBA Finals at two games apiece in Game 4.

“This team can stay hot for weeks,” Kobe said of the Magic. “It’s not something that is just a fluke.”

Three games into the Finals, two of them down to the wire, and the look on Bryant’s face and the tone of his voice said it all.

Who needs LeBron?

The season was supposed to come down to a predestined clash between Kobe and King James, the two best players in the league on the two best teams during the regular season. It was going to be a renewal of the practice duels of last summer’s USA Basketball team.

Two separate companies created advertising campaigns around the matchup, one even made puppets.

Then the Magic came along and ruined the plans and, now, thanks to Tuesday’s energy-inducing victory, they’ve turned this into every bit of a series worth watching. The strong TV ratings prove nearly 14 million fans got the message that the marketers didn’t.

Who needs LeBron?

So here are the Magic, proving not just that they belong; they did that by LeBrooming the Cavs out of the Eastern Conference finals in six games. Here are the Magic proving they can deliver the kind of dramatic Finals these playoffs deserve.

The Magic lit it up from the floor in Game 3, hitting a record 75 percent of their shots in the first half. Their inside-outside game is so strong that Phil Jackson called it “extreme” and declared it “the most threatening” he’s seen. Meanwhile, in an effort to remain multidimensional, the Magic have run some of the most creative offensive sets in recent memory.

The Magic may not win this series, but they haven’t lacked for providing colorful story lines and inspired play. There’s no denying they’re wearing Bryant down and leaving him wondering what’s next.

The NBA didn’t get the megastar matchup it no doubt craved. Nike and VitaminWater were forced to scrap their big-money commercial campaigns. And fans that wanted to see the two best players square off will have to wait.

But a funny thing happened on the way to disaster – an intriguing series was born.

Everyone realized: Who needs LeBron?

For the complete column, click here

Here is the game preview from Yahoo! Sports

The Magic are 2 1/2 point favorites

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NBA Finals Game 3: Magic 108 Lakers 104

Thanks to a record-shattering shooting performance, the Magic won their first Finals game in franchise history, defeating Los Angeles. The Magic shot 75% in the first half (24 of 32), which was the highest shooting percentage ever in a half for a Finals game. The Magic shot 62.5% for the game, which was the highest shooting percentage ever for a Finals game, breaking the 1991 Chicago Bulls record. Despite the Magic hot shooting, the Lakers made things tough for the Magic, as they shot 51.3% themselves.

The Lakers jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, and had the lead for most of the first quarter as it ended 31-27 Lakers. The Magic were able to wrest the lead from the Lakers at the 4:29 mark of the second quarter, and scored 14 of the final 20 points of the first half to lead at halftime 59-54.

The Magic were able to maintain their lead in the third quarter, and led by as much as 77-69 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining and led 81-75 going into the fourth quarter. The Magic stretched their lead to 91-82 with just under eight minutes remaining, but the Lakers made their first eight shots of the fourth and tied the game at 99 with 2:42 remaining. The Magic never let the Lakers get the lead though, as the Lakers missed five of their final seven shots and split two free throws as the Magic made their free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

Magic leading scorers

Rashard Lewis: 21 points (8 of 14 field goals), 5 assists, 5 rebounds
Dwight Howard: 21 points (5 of 6 field goals, 11 of 16 free throws), 14 rebounds, 2 blocks
Rafer Alston: 20 points (8 of 12 field goals), 4 assists
Hedo Turkoglu: 18 points (7 of 12 field goals), 7 assists, 6 rebounds
Mickael Pietrus (bench): 18 points (7 of 11 field goals), 3 steals

Los Angeles leading scorers

Kobe Bryant: 31 points (11 of 25 field goals), 8 assists
Pau Gasol: 23 points (9 of 11 field goals), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks
Trevor Ariza: 13 points (5 of 13 field goals), 7 rebounds, 2 steals
Lamar Odom (bench): 11 points (4 of 6 field goals)
Jordan Farmar (bench): 11 points

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: ORL 62.5% (40 of 64) LA 51.3% (40 of 78)
3 PT FG%: ORL 35.7% (5 of 14) LA 34.8% (8 of 23)
FT%: ORL 76.7% (23 of 30) LA 61.5% (16 of 26)
REB: ORL 29 (5 offensive) LA 27 (11 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 23/13 LA 16/13

Other game notes and stats:

-The Magic shot a remarkable 20 of 23 from two point range in the first half and 35 of 50 for the game
-The Magic's best-shooting quarter was the second, as they shot 13 of 16 overall
-The Magic starting frontcourt outscored the Lakers' starting frontcourt 60-40, and outrebounded them 25-14
-Bryant, after starting out 8 of 11 shooting, made just 3 of his last 14 shots and scored just ten second half points
-Bryant made just 4 of 9 free throws
-The Magic used a nine-man rotation, with Tony Battie scoring four points and Jameer Nelson scoring two points; Marcin Gortat went scoreless
-Courtney Lee was the only Magic starter not in double figures, scoring four points in 20 minutes
-The Lakers attempted 14 more shots than the Magic
-The Magic made 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth

Here is the complete box score from nba.com

Here is the complete recap from nba.com

Game 4 will be Thursday night in Orlando.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Finals far from done...

Here are excerpts from a column from cbssports.com columnist Gregg Doyel from Monday:

ORLANDO -- Why is everyone in such a hurry to write off the NBA Finals? Game 3 doesn't tip off until Tuesday night, but if we are to believe what we read, Game 3 is a waste of time. A formality. A condescending 48-minute exercise bestowed upon Orlando to let the Magic make some money in ticket and concession sales.

I'm talking to everyone who has decided this series ended with Game 2, which the Lakers won to build their series edge to 2-0.

The point is, nothing about Game 2 would say, or even suggest, that this series is over. Just the opposite. After Game 1 indicated Los Angeles was out of Orlando's league, Game 2 went the other way. Game 2 showed a Magic team more than capable of playing with the Lakers, and even of beating the Lakers. Yes, Courtney Lee, we're all looking at you.

For some reason, the Lakers lucked out a win in Game 2 ... and people line up to crown them. Like this series is over or something.

Isn't a 2-0 series edge what the Lakers are supposed to have right now?

I would like to point out -- but the Magic showed enough moxie Sunday night in Los Angeles to make it clear that they can win two or even three games in Orlando. And if this series goes back to Los Angeles for Games 6 and 7, even if the Lakers are ahead 3-2, all the pressure would be on Los Angeles. Winning one lousy game out of two, at home, would become a referendum on the genius of Phil Jackson and the leadership of Kobe Bryant and the manhood, such as it is, of Pau Gasol. That's pressure.

Only Orlando has the wherewithal to get better from here. Jameer Nelson could play better as he works off the rust, or he could go back to the inactive list in an effort by coach Stan Van Gundy to recapture the chemistry that helped Orlando manhandle Cleveland. Rafer Alston can't play any worse. Mickael Pietrus can't be called for more phantom fouls than in Los Angeles. Dwight Howard won't be held in check offensively throughout this series.

The Magic have more moving parts, is my point. Los Angeles is steady. Kobe has been Kobe. Gasol has played (surprisingly) well. Same with Lamar Odom. Andrew Bynum hasn't done squat, but he hasn't done squat in months. No reason to believe he'll start doing squat now.

Am I predicting a 2009 NBA title for Orlando? I am not.

But is this series as "over" as people are saying?

It is not.

Click here for the complete column.

Here is the complete preview of Game 3 from Yahoo! Sports

The Magic are 4 point favorites

Coverage begins at 9 PM Eastern on ABC.

Monday, June 08, 2009

NBA Finals Game 2: Lakers 101 Magic 96 OT

The Magic, despite a poor shooting first half and a litany of turnovers throughout the game, gave Los Angeles all they could handle as the Lakers escaped with the victory in overtime, as the Magic missed a brilliant chance to win the game in regulation at the buzzer, with Courtney Lee's running layup attempt off a Hedo Turkoglu inbounds pass with .6 seconds remaining was just a little strong.

Both teams started out bad, as they combined for a Finals-record low 30 points in the first quarter tied at 15 after one. The Magic never could get the lead in the second quarter as the Lakers went into the half with a 40-35 lead.

After the Magic closed within 40-37 to open the third, neither team had more than a three point lead as the Magic had their best quarter of the finals, scoring 30 points for a 65-63 advantage going into the fourth. Once again in the fourth, neither team had more than a three point lead. The Magic's last lead came at 88-86 with 47 seconds remaining after a Turkoglu jumper, but a Pau Gasol layup tied it at 88. The Lakers had their own chance to win late, but Bryant's runner in the lane was blocked from behind by Turkoglu, which set up the final play of regulation for the Magic which came so close to being a game-winner.

The Magic's only lead of the overtime was 91-90, with the Lakers taking the lead for good 92-91 with 2:18 remaining, with their lead as much as 97-91 with 1:14 remaining. The Magic came within 99-96 with 26.2 seconds remaining, but free throws clinched the win for the Lakers.

Magic leading scorers

Rashard Lewis: 34 points (12 of 21 field goals, 6 of 12 three point FGs), 11 rebounds, 7 assists
Hedo Turkoglu: 22 points (8 of 17 field goals, 3 of 6 three point FGs), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 turnovers
Dwight Howard: 17 points (5 of 10 field goals, 7 of 9 free throws), 16 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks, 7 turnovers

Los Angeles leading scorers

Kobe Bryant: 29 points (10 of 22 field goals, 8 of 10 free throws), 8 assists, 2 steals, 7 turnovers
Pau Gasol: 24 points (7 of 14 field goals, 10 of 11 free throws), 10 rebounds, 2 steals
Lamar Odom: 19 points (8 of 9 field goals), 8 rebounds
Derek Fisher: 12 points (4 of 9 field goals), 3 steals

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: LA 46.2% (36 of 78) ORL 41.8% (33 of 79)
3 PT FG%: ORL 33.3% (10 of 30) LA 33.3% (5 of 15)
FT%: LA 85.7% (24 of 28) ORL 74.1% (20 of 27)
REB: ORL 44 (10 offensive) LA 35 (4 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 22/20 LA 20/12

Other game notes and stats:

-Lewis, Turkoglu, and Howard combined to shoot 25 of 48 for 73 points; the rest of the Magic 8 of 31 for 23 points
-The Magic shot just 4 of 14 in the first quarter, and 12 of 37 for the first half
-Lewis scored 18 of the Magic's 20 second quarter points on 7 of 10 shooting, including 4 of 6 three pointers; the rest of the Magic combined to shoot 1 of 13 in the quarter
-Lewis shot 8 of 12 in the first half; the rest of the Magic combined to shoot 4 of 25
-The Magic shot 21 of 41 from the field in the second half and overtime
-Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee combined to shoot 2 of 11 for 6 points, and were outscored by the Lakers' starting guards 41-6
-Alston did have a 5/1 assist/turnover ratio
-Jameer Nelson played nearly 17 minutes off the bench, scoring 4 points on 1 of 3 shooting with an assist
-J.J. Redick led the Magic bench with 5 points, but shot just 2 of 9, including 1 of 6 three pointers
-The Magic bench combined to shoot 6 of 20 from the field, including 1 of 8 three pointers
-The Magic starting frontline outscored the Lakers starting frontline 73-37, and outrebounded them 33-18
-The Lakers made 20 of 21 free throws in the second half and overtime

Here is the complete box score from nba.com

Here is the complete recap from Yahoo! Sports

Game 3 will be Tuesday night in Orlando.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

NBA Finals Game 2 preview

The Magic have had two days to dissect their blowout loss to the Lakers in Game 1 and also to look at game film.

This quote from the Yahoo! game preview from Stan Van Gundy says it all:

“We’ve been through it,” said Van Gundy, who plans to keep his rotations intact for Game 2. “As the playoffs have gone on, I’m given them history lessons of just about anything that can happen in the playoffs, people being blown out at times. All of us were upset with our performances the other night; I wasn’t happy with mine, I don’t think they were happy with theirs. We’re anxious to get back at it.”

The Magic are 6 1/2 point underdogs.

Here is the complete game preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The game starts an hour earlier than Game 1 at 8 PM Eastern on ABC.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Five things that Magic must do to compete according to a Lakers fan

From bleacherreport.com here is a piece written by Lakers fan and Bleacher Report member Chris Richards on how the Magic can better compete the rest of the series with the Lakers:

So I watched the highly anticipated Game One of the NBA finals and I was pretty disappointed by the outcome. Now I am a die hard Lakers fan, but even I wanted to see a better fight from the Magic. I have five things that would help the Magic tremendously in this series.

One. Establish the post.
Going into the game everybody (including my 80 year old grandmother) thought that Dwight "Superman" Howard would dominate the post like he did against everyone else in the Eastern Conference. WRONG.

A combination of good coaching and good play by Lakers interior defense (maybe a sprinkle of kryptonite) stopped the big man from saving the Magic from defeat. There were no good looks at the rim all day for the Orlando Magics big man and that cost them, leaving him with an atrocious 12 points on one-of-six shooting.

With those numbers it will be impossible for the Magic to even test the Lakers in this series. Howard must establish position, make quick strong moves to the cup, get Bynum and the rest of the bigs in foul trouble (which is not that hard the way kung fu Bynum is playing), and dish to one of many three point shooters that you have on the team. Shouldn't be too hard for someone who has an "S" on their chest

2. Knock down THREES.
The Magic are not what you would call a typical Champion contender but they made it this far shooting jump shots, and a lot of them. At this point they cant change their identity so they need hit the shots that their taking. They probably have some of the best shooters in the league they just have to hit the three, plain and simple.

3. Don't mess up Chemistry.
And the Worst Coaching Move in a Finals Game One goes to Coach Van Gundy. I understand that Nelson scorched the Lakeshow like a burnt hot dog on Memorial day during the regular season, but you cant reinsert him into the lineup after three and a half months of sitting.

Chemistry plays a big role in today's NBA game and once he did that, all eyes were on the once street ball king. You could see that Alston was losing his confidence seeing JJ Redick to his left and Adonal Foyle to his right, and it was apparent that he lacked the confidence once he reentered the game.

Coach Van Gundy, aka Mr. Loudmouth, definitely needs to either stop Nelson from playing all together for the Finals or limit his minutes substantially. You got there with Alston and you should stick with Alston, bottom line.

Four. Find a way to stop (or at least attempt to Contain) Kobe Bryant.
I know its easier said than done but they at least should have given Kobe a courtesy goodbye waive before he blew by Magic defenders. I really wasn't surprised when Kobe was taking the Rookie Lee to the cup but there wasn't much of a drop off when they put Michael "run and gun" Pietrus on him.

I mean Pietrus came from Nellies world rebound defensive juggernaut in Golden State, so he should have slowed him down right? They definitely need to try to stay in front of Kobe to limit his dribble penetration causing Howard to help and possibly getting into early foul trouble.

Again easier said than done but if they don't focus on number 24 he will give them that black mamba stare all the way to the Trophy ceremony.

Five. Just get after it.
No matter how much advice coaches and former players (yes even Patrick Chewing) gives the team bottom line they need to play. Fight for 48 minutes and play every game like its your last. All that being said cant wait for game Two.


Again, that was written by Lakers fan Chris Richards on bleacherreport.com

Friday, June 05, 2009

NBA Finals Game 1: Lakers 100 Magic 75

Despite the return of Jameer Nelson for the first time in four months, the Magic played their worst game of the playoffs and possibly their worst game of the season, as the Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant's 40 points in a 100-75 rout over the Magic. The Magic could only shoot 29.9% from the field, with Dwight Howard making just one field goal.

Things actually started off relatively well for the Magic, as the Magic led 24-22 at the end of one and 33-28 with 8:39 remaining in the second quarter. The Lakers came back to lead 53-43 at the half, as Nelson played the whole second quarter in his first game since February 4th.

The closest the Magic could get in the second half was 59-50 with 8:20 remaining, as the Lakers poured it on from that point. The Lakers led 82-58 going into the fourth quarter, and saw their lead swell by as much as 88-60 before cruising to the final.

Magic leading scorers

Mickael Pietrus: 14 points (5 of 13 field goals)
Hedo Turkoglu: 13 points (3 of 11 field goals), 4 rebounds
Dwight Howard: 12 points (1 of 6 field goals), 15 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks

Lakers leading scorers

Kobe Bryant (16 of 34 field goals), 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Pau Gasol: 16 points (7 of 12 field goals), 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
Lamar Odom: 11 points (5 of 11 field goals), 14 rebounds

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: LA 46.1% (41 of 89) ORL 29.9% (23 of 77)
3 PT FG%: ORL 34.8% (8 of 23) LA 33.3% (3 of 9)
FT%: LA 83.3% (15 of 18) ORL 72.4% (21 of 29)
REB: LA 55 (15 offensive) ORL 41 (10 offensive)
AST/TO: LA 18/9 ORL 10/8

Other game notes and stats:

-The Magic, after leading 33-28, were outscored 72-42 the rest of the way
-The Lakers outscored the Magic on two point baskets 76-30
-The Lakers' starters outscored the Magic starters 77-46
-The Magic starters combined to shoot 11 of 46 from the field
-The Magic made just 9 of 38 field goals in the second half
-The Lakers shot a combined 25 of 45 from the field in the second and third quarters
-Bryant attempted 34 field goal attempts, the other four Lakers' starters combined for 30 field goal attempts
-Bryant had just six less points than the entire Magic starting lineup
-The Magic starting frontline combined to shoot 6 of 27 from the field for 33 points
-Nelson played over 23 minutes and led the Magic with four assists; the rest of the Magic combined for six assists
-Only Marcin Gortat (2 of 4 FG) and J.J. Redick (1 of 2 FG) shot 50% for the Magic
-Marcin Gortat blocked four shots for the Magic in 20 minutes

The Magic will have two days off to recover from their 25 point loss; Game 2 is Sunday night.

Here is the complete game recap from nba.com

Here is the complete box score from nba.com

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Update on the status of Jameer Nelson

From Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:

LOS ANGELES - Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson isn't likely to play tonight in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the L.A. Lakers, but he is expected to be activated and dress out, the Sentinel has learned. The chance of him playing in the series is still remote.

Nelson has been feverishly trying to come back early from Feb. 19 shoulder surgery.

The Magic have been evaluating his progress the last few days, and it appeared he might be a long shot to play after returning to practice this week.

Nelson was two months ahead of his projected six-month rehab schedule and had increased the intensity of his workouts the past three weeks, he did not participate in his first formal practice with the Magic until last Tueday in Orlando. He also worked out with the team in L.A. on Wednesday.

How the Lakers and Magic match up

Here's a look at how the two teams match up by position, with playoff statistics in parenthesis:

PG: Derek Fisher (7.1 ppg, 35.6% FG) vs Rafer Alston (12.7 ppg, 38.3%)

Fisher has been in a bad slump this post-season, while Alston has done a solid job running the Magic offense, as evidenced by his solid 2.5/1 assist/turnover ratio, and making timely open jumpers despite his FG%. Advantage... MAGIC

SG: Kobe Bryant (29.6 ppg, 46.6% FG) vs Courtney Lee (8.8 ppg, 45.1% FG) or Mickael Pietrus (10.5 ppg, 48.5% FG)

Bryant is who he is, but Lee and Pietrus will make Bryant work hard for his points; Pietrus has been a revelation for the Magic off the bench in the playoffs with his versatility on offense and defense and timely three point shooting. Advantage... LAKERS

SF: Trevor Ariza (11.4 ppg, 55.8% FG) vs Hedo Turkoglu (15.2 ppg, 41% FG, 5.1 assists)

Ariza, formerly with the Magic, is playing the best basketball of his career both offensively and defensively, while Turkoglu has been struggling with consistency shooting in the playoffs, but has hit a couple of big shots and has done a solid job passing and ballhandling when he needs to. Slight advantage... MAGIC

PF: Pau Gasol (18.2 ppg, 57.4% FG, 11.3 reb) or Lamar Odom (12.0 ppg, 51.9% FG, 9.5 rebounds) vs Rashard Lewis (19.4 ppg, 46% FG, 6.1 rebounds)

When Gasol and Andrew Bynum are in the game together, Gasol will probably be on Lewis; when Bynum is on the bench, Odom will be on Lewis. Odom has played outstanding off the bench this postseason, while Gasol has been his usual solid self. Lewis has been the Magic's second-best player this postseason. Tough call here, but if Odom and Gasol both play as well as they did against Denver... Slight advantage... LAKERS

C: Andrew Bynum (6.3 ppg, 3.6 rebounds) or Gasol vs Dwight Howard (21.7 ppg, 62.2% FG, 15.4 rebounds)

Tough matchup for the Lakers here defensively, as Howard should have his way with either player, as neither player is physical enough to contain Howard. Advantage... MAGIC

Other bench players for the Lakers: SG Shannon Brown (5.7 ppg); PG Jordan Farmar (5.1 ppg); SG Sasha Vujacic (3.8 ppg); SF Luke Walton (3.8 ppg)

Other bench players for the Magic: SG: J.J. Redick (6.2 ppg); PG Anthony Johnson (4.3 ppg); C Marcin Gortat (3.3 ppg); PF Tony Battie (2.2 ppg) Slight advantage... LAKERS

Coaches: Phil Jackson vs Stan Van Gundy

Van Gundy has done an outstanding job in his two seasons with the Magic to get them to this point, but Jackson is a future Hall of Famer with 9 championships. Advantage... LAKERS

I think this is going to be an outstanding and very competitive series, much better than a Cavaliers/Lakers matchup would have been (The Lakers would have beaten the Cavs in 4 or 5 games).

I don't want to jinx the Magic by picking them to win.

Remember Mike Freeman, the cbssports.com columnist who wrote a scathing article criticizing the Magic after they beat Philly in Round 1? Well, he's really changed his tune, as the Magic have made a believer out of him. Here's his latest column: www.cbssports.com/nba/story/11816700

I was asked by Greg Payne of celticscircuit.com, a Boston Celtics blog, to partake in a few questions and answers Wednesday regarding the Magic/Lakers. Click on the link to check it out.

Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports speculates on how Jameer Nelson could help the Magic if he plays in this column.

Here is Yahoo Sports! preview of the series.

Check out Third Quarter Collapse for various posts and previews regarding the series.

Sportsbook.com has installed the Lakers as -260 favorites to win the series, with the Magic as +210 underdogs. The Lakers are 6 point favorites to win Game 1.

The fun starts tonight at 9:00 Eastern on ABC.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Can't Wait For The Finals To Start!

Bring on the Lakers! Every round has been tough, with each round even harder. Now it comes down to the two hardest working teams in the league playing each other for the championship.
Hard to believe they started out 0-2 losing to Atlanta and Memphis. Or that they were down 2 games to 3 against the Celtics, a team that was 32-0 when leading a series 3 games to 2.

The Magic were the #1 team in the league (according to a few ESPN rankings) when Jameer Nelson went down. It's unbelievable they were able to trade for Rafer Alston -- and that "Skip TO My Lou" would come through with the best playing of his career.

Rashard Lewis has gone from overpaid to an All-Star. If there are any basketball fans left in Seattle they can't believe what they are seeing. Michael Pietrus suddenly started playing like Otis thought he would in the playoffs.
This is great. It is everything we could have hoped for, and more.

Go Magic!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The ABC Finals Telecast Will Be Biased

But in a good way.

Miami Heat | Sun-Sentinel Blogs: All Van Gundy all the time

Jeff Van Gundy is part of the 3 man team broadcasting the Finals for ABC.

Jeff discussing the Magic:
"If they're fortunate enough to win the championship, I may have my bottle of champagne I pour over myself and Mark and Mike. So, I definitely want 'em to win, there's no doubt. But during the games, I'm going to try to be as objective as possible."
On Stan:
"Well, I mean, obviously, he's a great, great coach. You don't make it to where he's made it and won as much as he's won without being really elite in your field. And so, he's done a great, great job and he's got a team that is playing well. Whether it's good enough to beat the heavily favored Laker team, that's what the games are for. We'll see how it goes. But I couldn't be prouder. We're really proud of him and really humbled by the opportunity he has."

This beats the hell out of the TNT guys dreaming about hanging out at LeBron's house watching Kobe play during the last two minutes of game 3.

GM Otis Smith: The architect behind the Eastern Conference Champion Magic

On May 3rd, 2006, when Otis Smith was promoted from Assistant General Manager to General Manager, here is what Magic President Bob Vander Weide said:

"In a short amount of time, Otis has done a tremendous job in regards to player acquisitions, while at the same time, setting us up for the future. He brings a wide range of experience, great energy, dedication, leadership and vision to our basketball operations."

Let's take a look at some of Smith's key moves (in no particular order) in the three years that he has been GM that have brought the Magic the Eastern Conference Championship.

1) Drafting of J.J. Redick with the 11th pick of the first round in 2006. Redick proved to be valuable off the bench with his three point shooting this season and his surprisingly good defense on Boston's Ray Allen in the ECF Semifinals was one of the factors in the Magic advancing.

2) Firing Coach Brian Hill in May 2007. Even though the Magic made the playoffs for the first time in four years and Hill made the Magic a good defensive team, Smith realized that Hill, because of his stubborn, inflexible ways and lack of imagination on offense, needed to be replaced if the Magic were to continue to improve.

3) Hiring Stan Van Gundy as coach in June 2007. Van Gundy wasn't Smith's first choice, obviously, but Smith did excellent in hiring SVG after Billy Donovan bailed out after 24 hours.

4) Signing Rashard Lewis as a free agent in the summer of 2007. Smith was criticized for overpaying for Lewis, and for not signing a true power forward, but the combo of Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu at forward has given opposing teams matchup nightmares.

5) Electing not to re-sign restricted free agent Darko Milicic after the 2007 season. Smith was criticized also for this move, because the combo of Dwight Howard and Milicic on the floor together showed potential for the future. However, in his two years with Memphis, Darko has continued to struggle with consistency and injuries, while Lewis has more than filled the bill as the Magic's starting power forward.

6) Signing Jameer Nelson to a contract extension before the 2007 season. Again, Otis was criticized by giving Nelson such a big contract, because Nelson never really proved he deserved such an extension. Smith was steadfast in his support of Nelson, and Nelson justified his contract extension by having a breakout season, making the All-Star team before his season-ending torn labrum in February.

7) Signing Marcin Gortat before the 2007 season. Gortat has come into his own this season as a solid backup to Howard.

8) The drafting of Courtney Lee with the 22nd pick of the first round in 2008. Most people thought Lee would be very little, if any factor, for the Magic this season, especially considering the Magic's poor drafting record in previous years with a middle-to-late first round pick, even though Lee had a solid four year career in college with Western Kentucky. Lee has done so well with the Magic with his solid defense, good shooting, and aggressiveness on offense that he was promoted to starter during the 2008-09 season when Mickael Pietrus was injured or struggled.

9) Signing free agent Mickael Pietrus in the 2008 off-season. Pietrus looked to be a bust with his injuries and struggles on offense for most of the regular season; however, Pietrus has excelled in the playoffs as the sixth man with his aggressiveness on defense and solid three point shooting. Pietrus, by himself, outscored the entire Cavaliers bench in the ECF.

10) Signing free agent point guard Anthony Johnson in the 2008 off-season. Johnson, nicknamed "Dad", has been steady coming off the bench this season.

11) Trading for Houston point guard Rafer Alston in February 2009. After Nelson's season-ending injury in February, Smith first traded for Milwaukee point guard Tyronn Lue, but Smith quickly realized the Magic needed somebody better if the Magic were to contend for a championship. Alston was that man, and with the exception of a few games, has been solid as the starting point guard and has done well running the offense in Nelson's absence.

Otis Smith, while making some mistakes along the way in three years, has more than made up for those mistakes with his brilliant acquisitions and decisions over those three years, and has certainly lived up to everything Bob Vander Weide said about him when Otis was promoted to GM on May, 2006.