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Not to put too fine a point on it, but this lockout could really doom the Magic

Jul 16, 2011, 10:36 PM EDT

Orlando Magic v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six Getty Images

The owners aren’t really cutting off their noses to spite their faces. It’s more of a self-provided lobotomy just to show the brain who’s boss. There are quite a few owners who have designated plans on a championship. And failing that, several of them are in pivotal moments for their franchise. A few wrong moves and they’re headed back to the trash heap of the NBA. The owners can do what they can to guarantee profitability, but even if they do, having a team in the dumpster is a pretty surefire way to keep from making a significant profit.

Take, oh, for example, the Orlando Magic.

Should the Magic lose the entire 2011-2012 season, it would be bad. And yeah, most of it is about it being Dwight Howard‘s final year, leaving them without a way to convince him to stay through adding weaponry in free agency or trade. But it’s actually worse than that, as the Orlando Sentinel points out:

The Magic have about $53 million already committed to the payroll for the 2012-13 season, and that’s not including Ryan Anderson’s qualifying offer or Daniel Orton’s team option. So, with no cap room and no desirable trade assets, the Magic couldn’t bring in a superstar through free agency. And because of the extended lockout, they wouldn’t be able to improve the roster around Howard before he became a free agent.

If Howard left, the Magic would still have almost no cap room and no way to really improve. A couple of 30+ wing players, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas, would be collecting more than half the team’s payroll.

via Missed season could be catastrophic for Orlando Magic – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.

That last bit is the scariest part. Having a team with a massive payroll and no prospects for winning due to losing the franchise players is the nightmare scenario. It’s one thing to be bad, every team goes through that kind of period. But having a massive payroll loaded with high-salary, long-term contracts for aging players?

That’s apocalyptic, set-you-back-ten-years type stuff. The Magic have put all their chips behind building around Dwight Howard. You know, the kind of treatment stars always say they want. The decisions of a collection of hard-line owners elsewhere could end up deciding if the investment made by the city on that beautiful new arena turns out to be worth it.

  1. downtowndanny - Jul 16, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    they’re screwed, their best bet would be trading for Drew Bynum, Pau, or Noah

  2. ch4wordpress - Jul 17, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    But what is the real question. IT is easy to say Orlando Magic are in trouble, but like all the woes of the NBA, it has nothing to do with players actions. ORlando CHOSE to accept those players, no one forced the ownership of Orlando, which is the same as Clevelands, to do as such.
    Owners make bad decisions, but if the club is to be sacrificed for it, then so be it.
    If owners botch up the profitability or the athletic quality of a club with their FREE decisions, why are we trying and accepting binding others.
    That is enslavement and injustice.

    • blueintown - Jul 17, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      No, that’s called a ‘contract’.

      • ch4wordpress - Jul 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        A contract is not enslavement or injustice. but the owners wanting to have the athletes pay for owners mistakes IS!! why is that so hard for people to realize.

  3. david8726 - Jul 17, 2011 at 4:28 AM

    I will really feel bad for the Magic and their fans if they lose Dwight.

    That franchise has made almost all the right moves over the years. They drafted a great player in Dwight, then methodically added players who complemented him. They brought in a great coach in Stan to bring it all together.

    The resulting team was really, really good – Good enough to make it to the finals one year. But they couldn’t seal the deal.

    They really needed ONE more piece to win the title, probably, and they’ve been frantically searching for that guy. They tried VC… they tried turk again…… But nothing has worked. And now the roster is declining.

    I can’t blame Orlando for taking these risks over the last couple years, swinging for the fences. It’s what they’ve HAD to do to try to win and try to appease Dwight. It just hasn’t worked out.

    They deserve better than losing their franchise player.

    • 1historian - Jul 17, 2011 at 7:10 AM

      Good post. Your sentence – “They really needed ONE more piece to win the title”. Obviously they didn’t get him.

      When Jerry Krause got to Chicago in 1986 they had MJ and no one else.
      They won the first of 6 titles 5 years later and except for MJ every single player and coach on the bench was brought there by Krause.
      Between 1991 and 1998 when they won the last of 6 titles there was a turnover of 83% in players – 10 out of 12. They STILL won.
      Obviously it doesn’t hurt when your remaining 17% are named Pippen and Jordan, but that is still a remarkable accomplishment.

      A lot of teams like Orlando come THAT close but never make it over the hump. And then they fade back.

      • theghostofwillisreed - Jul 17, 2011 at 9:48 AM

        they don’t “deserve” anything. they did what they felt they needed to do as a franchise to put themselves in a position to win. if they lose dwight who will have fulfilled the terms of his deal then so be it and the team has to act accordingly.

    • 1historian - Jul 17, 2011 at 7:11 AM

      Me again – a lot of teams come real close and then when they don’t make it they fade back.

      And some teams just don’t give up – like Dallas.

      • david8726 - Jul 17, 2011 at 7:26 PM

        It’s not QUITE as simple as you make it out to be when you say Dallas “just didn’t give up.” Obviously that’s true, but there were really two main reasons why Dallas succeeded in the end despite many miserable failures –

        1. Their superstar, Dirk, was ridiculously loyal to his franchise. After failing so many times, lots of superstars would have left Dallas for no other reason than just to get a change of scenery. But Dirk stuck it out, even when he was humiliated in 2006 and 2007. He deserves more credit than anyone else.

        2. Mark Cuban’s pockets are deep enough that he could spend, spend and spend some more to keep Dallas a contender. Dallas had the 2nd highest average payroll over the last decade. He threw truckloads of money every year at players who probably didn’t deserve it, just to get them to come to Dallas. He bought into the first round of the draft a lot. He did under the table deals like the one that guy Dallas Peja.

        Not all teams are lucky enough to have an owner who loves the game so much that he’ll throw that kind of luxury tax money into the pot to win.

  4. bhester1906 - Jul 17, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    Otis smith shoulda got fired after getting Gilbert.

  5. tashkalucy - Jul 17, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Otis Smith lost me when he brought in Vice Carter as THE man to compliment Dwight and be the goto guy. Carter came up small in the playoffs with the Nets for 3 years before Smith got him – couldn’t play a lick of D and his knee made him a shell of his former self on O.

    But this points up a problem with the NBA and yet another reason for the lockout….

    Most young star players want to win championship NOW! They want to be like Jordan and win 6-8 in he next 10 years. But the problem is that there is only one championship a year, so they all can’t do it. And GM’s that have people like Howard, James, Bosh, etc are so afraid of losing their team star, that instead of spending years putting a team of young players around the star – as the gentleman above noted the the Bulls did for Jordan under Jerry Krause – the GM’s are almost forced to trade for overpriced veteran name players to “prove” to he star that they “want to win”. This is nonsense, and has resulted in actually screwing up the stars career in the long-run.

    I know that Stern likes the ‘franchise player’ tag that the NFL has, yet I’ve heard nothing about it at this point of the lockout. It will be brought up in time.

    • ch4wordpress - Jul 17, 2011 at 1:25 PM

      You say the players careers get messed up, But, the owners chose to have franchise players, they chose to invest heavily, if the owners are afriad to lose franchise players dont have them.
      This goes back to my point, little teams want success but they dont have the money to get it realistically. The NBA needs divisions of economics not geography.

    • leearmon - Jul 17, 2011 at 3:36 PM

      I dont know if you can classify Howard and James as “I want to win right now” guys. Lebron just completed his 8th year, Howard his 7th. That is a lot of time. Plus making moves as a GM is a good thing, knowing which moves to make and which not, is something totally different. Trading for Vince. Trading for Hedo. Trading for Gilbert. All awful decisions. Signing Rashard Lewis, and trading away Gortat. Again horrible decisions. You cant blame players for what the front office does. Think back to when Kobe wanted Andrew Bynum traded. The Lakers’ brass knew what they had in Bynum. Trusted their scouts and coaching staff and stood firm. Now two rings removed and everything is cool with Kobe and the Lakers. Real teams and front offices do not cave into their stars’ demands. Point blank period. As for the franchise tag idea, with all due respect unless they completely change the way we know it, this will be a horrible decision. Take a QB in the NFL. If he is franchised he gets the avg. of the top 5 highest paid QB’s salary for one year. Well the top 5 players in the NFL is a deeper pool than the top players at a NBA position just due to the number of players. So using this same logic. Dwight Howard can and probably will opt out after this upcoming season (if there is one). So you mean to tell me you would have guys like Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler’s contracts factor into how much you would pay Howard? Thats insane. Dwight Howard is without a doubt a top five player in the entire league! However, since he plays the center position, probably the weakest position in the league, he will be grossly underpaid for a full season. There is absolutely no way that a “franchise tag” the way the NFL uses it can exist in the NBA.

    • 1historian - Jul 17, 2011 at 9:58 PM

      It’s been a while since I was accused of being a gentleman, sir, and I thank you.

  6. 1historian - Jul 17, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    David8726 – good points. Up until they eliminated LA in that 4th game I didn’t think Dallas had a chance – I didn’t think they could get over the series in 2006 when Miami won 4 straight and finished it up in Dallas.

    I was happy to see that I was wrong. Cuban is a PITA but I have to give him credit for going all out for his team.

    • ch4wordpress - Jul 18, 2011 at 1:34 PM

      good points about cuban as an owner. Cuban has pumped a lot of money into Dallas, it is no accident that they eventually won a championship, so even their success is a measure of big money ownership. NOW, if an owner cant be like Dallas, Miami, New York, LA, etc. then they shouldnt complain about the players, but focus on themselves. and organize their team to fit the money they will invest in it

      what do you think of this ?

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