The Orlando Magic were at a breaking point of sorts, having dropped five of their last six and about to embark on a four-game stand that included Atlanta, Dallas, San Antonio, and Boston. It had become increasingly apparent that the team could not legitimately expect to win a championship as constructed, and there was exceeding pressure to build a team around Dwight Howard(notes) that could realistically attain that goal.
Howard has the option to become a free agent after next season, and still has not committed to staying in Orlando long-term. A source close to the situation says it was Howard who was pushing for the Magic to make moves, something he has had a hand in since the summer when he pushed for the team to acquire Chris Paul(notes) and Carlos Boozer(notes).
General manager Otis Smith heard Dwight’s message loud and clear, and with two trades has given the roster a complete makeover.
His first move was to send Vince Carter(notes), Marcin Gortat(notes), Mickael Pietrus(notes), a 2011 first-round pick, and $3 million in cash to Phoenix in exchange for Jason Richardson(notes), Hedo Turkoglu(notes), and Earl Clark(notes).
Richardson is the major coup for the Magic here, as he adds that dynamic perimeter threat that they have been sorely lacking all along. Turkoglu is a low-risk, high-reward proposition. If he’s able to recapture his magic from two years ago as the point forward that carried them during their Finals run, then they’ve got another dangerous weapon. If not then they’ll have enough depth at the wings to compensate.
The Arenas deal has been on Smith’s radar for some time now, as reported by Evan Dunlap of the Orlando Pinstriped Post earlier this month. The payoff of acquiring Arenas is highly questionable to say the least, as it is in no way the move that elevates the Magic to championship contender status. As has been the case with Arenas in recent years, there’s a good deal of talent to be had but even more baggage that comes along with it. I know Lewis has provided next to nothing this year, but I would have liked to see the Lewis-Turkoglu tandem play out for at least a short while to see if they could recapture some of their magic before making the move for Arenas. The offer wasn’t going anywhere, so what did they have to lose?
Let’s break the deal down team-by-team and examine how this affects the values of those involved…
PG: Jameer Nelson(notes), Gilbert Arenas, Chris Duhon(notes)
SG: Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Redick(notes)
SF: Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson(notes), Earl Clark
PF: Brandon Bass(notes), Ryan Anderson(notes)
C: Dwight Howard, Malik Allen(notes)
The biggest losers here have to be Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, who will immediately be pushed for minutes by Gilbert Arenas. Though Arenas could eventually challenge Nelson for the starting point guard job, a more likely scenario involves Stan Van Gundy opting for a smaller lineup that features Hedo Turkoglu at the 4, Jason Richardson at the 3, and a backcourt shared by Nelson and Arenas. There’s some reason to be optimistic about Arenas – he’ll benefit from increased spacing and better looks (one of the many benefits of playing alongside Dwight Howard), and he finds himself in a situation where he can start fresh and reinvent himself alongside Smith and Richardson, two familiar faces whom he worked well with during his time at Golden State. With that said, to believe Arenas will drastically alter his identity as a highly inefficient scorer with a high usage rate who turns the ball over too often is a stretch. The prospect of adding Arenas to the mix won’t help anyone’s numbers really, as he still commands an exorbitant amount of possessions (t-19th in usage rate). Brandon Bass will continue to see heavy minutes as the unquestioned starter at the 4, with the Magic no longer having the option to slide Lewis back over to that spot. Turkoglu moves back to his natural position, and can’t possibly play much worse than he did in Phoenix. Deep leaguers should keep an eye on Ryan Anderson, who should finally get some sort of consistent minutes as SVG really has no choice with such a depleted frontcourt.
PG: Steve Nash(notes), Goran Dragic(notes)
SG: Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Josh Childress(notes)
SF: Grant Hill(notes), Jared Dudley(notes), Mickael Pietrus
PF: Channing Frye(notes), Hakim Warrick(notes)
C: Robin Lopez(notes), Marcin Gortat, Earl Barron(notes)
With Richardson off to Orlando, the Suns find themselves without their top scorer and leading shot taker. Vince Carter will fill that hole to an extent, but the team is clearly in rebuilding mode at this point, and the question of whether Nash will be moved will loom over this team all winter, and possibly spring (though Robert Sarver denies the team has any intention of moving him). The only clear-cut winner here is Marcin Gortat, who moves out from the inescapable shadow of Dwight Howard to a team that could certainly use his defense and rebounding, and one where he should see plenty of playing time. The prospect of playing alongside Nash is always enticing, too. I’d still rather own Channing Frye and Robin Lopez, but he comes in at a much closer third than Hakim Warrick.
PG: John Wall(notes), Kirk Hinrich(notes)
SG: Kirk Hinrich, Nick Young(notes)
SF: Rashard Lewis, Josh Howard(notes), Al Thornton(notes)
PF: Andray Blatche(notes), Trevor Booker(notes), Yi Jianlian(notes)
C: JaVale McGee(notes), Hilton Armstrong(notes)
No real wholesale changes here – all the Wizards did was swap out Arenas for Lewis. What the deal does do is establish a clear three-guard backcourt rotation which is a win-win-win for all involved. Wall’s value really comes down to his health, but it has to be a good feeling for him to know that Ernie Grunfield is officially handing him the keys to the car. Hinrich and Young will step into more minutes and additional offensive responsibilities, and should be considered stable utility options in standard-sized leagues moving forward. The addition of Lewis creates a logjam at the forward spots though, and Howard, Thornton, and Blatche will be worse off because of it. Howard and Thornton were borderline plays anyways, even in deep leagues, so there isn’t much potential wasted here. Blatche will still see time at the 4 and at the 5, but his minutes should be scaled down a bit into the 30-32 MPG range.
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