After a summer spent whining about how the media overlooked them in wake of the Heat conspiring to bring in LeBron and Bosh and Boston upping their ante by adding Shaquille and Delonte, the Magic who were so certain that they already belonged in that champion-caliber discussion have conceded the need for more help. I’m glad to see it too. Pride can paralyze a GM. Orlando has been the deepest team in the league for years, but they’ve needed some different pieces around the perimeter. Here’s what GM Otis Smith has concocted in two separate deals with Phoenix and Washington:
Leaving – SF/PF Rashard Lewis, SG/SF Vince Carter, SG/SF Mikael Pietrus, and C Marcin Gortat
Arriving – PG/SG Gilbert Arenas, SG/SF Jason Richardson, SF Hedo Turkoglu, SF/PF Earl Clark
Projected Depth Chart for Orlando:
PG: Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas, Chris Duhon, Jason Williams
SG: Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Redick
SF: Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson
PF: Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark, Malik Allen
C: Dwight Howard, Brandon Bass
The real benefit of this change is the addition of multiple players who can take over the offense when Jameer is having one of his off days. Gilbert is a terrific combo guard (still) who can run a team, and Hedo has shown the ability to execute Coach Van Gundy’s offense more ably than any point guard so far. Also they found a way to get rid of Rashard who has been playing worse and worse since the loss to LA in the 2009 Finals.
The downside is going to be defensive chemistry. Great team defense requires everyone knowing and adhering to the gameplan, and they will need to build that understanding and trust with the new players. They may miss Gortat as well. Marcin gave them a pretty steady size advantage inside which they won’t have now for the 8 minutes per game that Howard sits. There will be an adjustment period where the new rotations are put in effect and the players get to know each other. Magic fans and media are going to need to show some patience with the new group. It’s hard to say if this change puts Orlando over the top against Boston and Miami in the East and potentially LA, Dallas, or San Antonio in the Finals (no offense to Jazz and Thunder fans – not this year).