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Orlando’s mid-season trade not reason for trouble (they were bad before)

Apr 23, 2011, 11:04 AM EDT

Magic head coach Van Gundy reacts during Game 3 of their NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference basketball game against Hawks in Atlanta Reuters

Orlando is in trouble.

They are down 2-1 to the Atlanta Hawks, a team that through the regular season and into the playoffs has shown its matchup advantages are hard for Orlando to overcome. Now the Magic face a virtual must-win Game 4 and likely will have to do it without Jason Richardson, who probably will get suspended for his little run in with Zaza Pachulia in Game 3.

There are a lot of people blaming Orlando’s roster-changing trades in November as the root of the problem.

Unless you think Vince Carter could solve the Magic’s woes, that theory doesn’t really work. And if you think Vince Carter changes this series, your issues may require professional help.

Orlando traded one roster that was going to lose early in the playoffs on for another.

The Magic would have gotten about as much out of Rashard Lewis as they are Gilbert Arenas. Orlando GM Otis Smith had more faith in Arenas than anyone else, and that hasn’t worked out, but Lewis was already becoming a ghost on this roster. Marcin Gortat would have given the Magic depth in the paint and allowed Stan Van Gundy to cut Howard’s minutes from the 46 a game he has played this series to maybe 38 or so (he wouldn’t go much lower) but that is not a series changer.

The Magic brought in guys who were supposed to get them through a series like this easily. Orlando certainly expected more out of Jason Richardson in the playoffs (8.7 points per game and he’s shooting 26.7 percent from three). Hedo Turkoglu has been worse, and we’re not just talking about that disaster of a last play the Magic ran in Game 3. Turkoglu was always a pretty average player who Van Gundy understood how to use well, but he has not found room this series

Orlando as a team is shooting 26 percent from three, the Hawks are doing a good job contesting the arc (because they can single-cover Howard with Jason Collins and others). When Orlando can’t hit threes, their offense falters. The guys Orlando got in this deal are not doing the job.

But if you think that Carter and Lewis were changing things you are sorely mistaken. The only real difference between this roster and the last one is that this one is more expensive long term.

Which might have Dwight Howard thinking about things. But that is another issue for another day.

  1. teke184 - Apr 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    It may not be the reason they suck in the playoffs but, IMHO, it will probably be the reason they eventually lose Howard.

    They were in Cap Hell before that deal due to numerous bad contracts taken on to put a team around Howard, a la Lebron in Cleveland. This deal just made things much worse by putting the Magic on the hook for the Turkoglu and Arenas deals for the next few years in exchange for Rashard Lewis’ bad deal, Carter’s partially guaranteed deal, Pietrius’ $5 million deal, and Gortat’s deal in the MLE range.

    Getting rid of Lewis’s bloated deal may have been a problem, but taking back two deals about as bad as his is counter-productive to them making additional moves this off-season to retool the team in order to convince Howard not to opt out.

  2. fanoredsox - Apr 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Stan needs to go if the Magic have any ideas of keeping Howard! I don’t think he will stay, but getting rid of SVG may start the healing process. Most players hate the guy!

  3. passerby23 - Apr 23, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    I think a big problem with Orlando is that the philosophy of how they play. You can’t just surround Howard with shooters and hope they make 3s. You need more dynamic playmakers who can put it on the floor and attack the rim, keep defenses honest. I know they tried to do this with Arenas and it hasn’t worked out.

    As good as Van Gundy’s track record is, a lot of the timeouts I see consist of imploring his team to play harder. How about some strategy?

  4. crossroadspastor - Apr 23, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    The big must go is clearly Otis. Every deal he has made, since the Finals loss to the Lakers, has made this team worse. I addition, each deal has placed them in a position where they have fewer options than before. Dwight’s free agent year comes when this team must endure a few bad years, before they can even rebuild.

  5. Raad 'The Kiwi' Beirouti - Apr 28, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    I really don’t think a chance was given for the old roster to hit stride this year. I thought the Carter, Pietrus, Gortat trade was awful! Only because Hedo sucks and has 3 yrs left on his deal! We all knew that Hedo sucked, he just got lucky and hit a couple of game winner and then all of a sudden people are comparing his career to a guy like Vince Carter. Granted Vince is old, but come on, Hedo has accomplished nothing individually. Lewis had to go, I agree. But the move for Arenas was just a stupid move made by a GM who just wanted his old buddy around. Get a grip man, Arenas’s legs are shot, he’s done. If you want him to score 20, hes gonna need 27 shots. Magic made a big mistake, lets home they can do something to fix it after this year

  6. Raad 'The Kiwi' Beirouti - Apr 28, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Also would love to here your comments of my blog, fairly new..

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