Friday, June 24, 2011

#32 Draft Pick - Justin Harper


The Orlando Magic traded their future 2nd round picks in 2013 and 2014 to acquire Justin Harper
from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Otis Smith said last night that they thought he was going to be selected in the 1st round for certain. So the fact that there he was in the 2nd round made him and the war room pounce to snag him. It's a good move as long as Justin pans out into at least a decent bench player. Chad Ford and Jay Bilas like this player and the fact we got him.

From his sophomore season at Richmond, Harper has had a lot of attention on him by NBA scouts. He's the main reason why Richmond won the Atlantic 10 championship with a school-record of 29 wins, and he got the Spiders to the Sweet Sixteen. The guy is comfortable in a pressure role and will definitely make our squad. He's a 2nd rounder that has 1st round (non-lottery) pick potential.

Justin Harper not a banger at 6'9", but he can punish you inside with a variety of moves. Harper fits the usual Orlando big man mold of perimeter shooter, but he seems to provide other aspects that are needed to improve this roster. The guy can score from anywhere and does draw some Rashard Lewis comparisons, but I don't think that's giving Justin enough credit.

The Kevin Durant-LaMarcus Aldridge hybrid comparison seems legitimate. Harper believes, as do I, that he'd be better off as an SF than a PF. The Richmond senior seems efficient as a spot-up shooter, a fadeaway shooter, a turnaround shooter, and a driving shooter. His ball handling is as good as a shooting guard and he's not afraid to attack the rim. Harper does have a strong frame already and definitely won't be given the 'soft' label. Let's hope he avoids the steroids, but stays in the weight room all offseason.

Another thing to keep in mind, whether Harper plays Power Forward or Small Forward, Otis Smith is going to have to figure out what he wants to do with Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, DeAndre Liggins (Some SG potential), Earl Clark, and Quentin Richardson. We are stacked at the forward positions now. Hopefully the Magic can make a superb trade by the July 1st CBA deadline. Justin Harper also has a Twitter account, so feel free to welcome the man. 


The Orlando Magic's #53 Draft Pick - DeAndre Liggins



I'm not necessarily a fan of this choice by Otis Smith and crew. David Lighty provides similar defense to DeAndre Liggins, but his offense is far superior from the Kentucky man we got. I also preferred Scotty Hopson over Liggins. But, both Lighty and Hopson went undrafted last night so I'm sure those two will get a lot of phone calls. Liggins really does remind me of Keith Bogans, only DeAndre is a bit taller and has a better jumper (thankfully) and offensive potential. Don't expect Liggins to have any highlight reel dunks.

Daniel Orton is definitely happy to see his former Wildcats teammate in a Magic jersey. Unlike Orton, Liggins has some of that big game experience during his time at Kentucky.

Despite my complaints, Liggins should make the team (whenever training camp should start) as long as he works hard and continues to sacrifice himself. This isn't a Stanley Robinson situation where he was just too raw to make the team. Liggins has the motivation to succeed as a defensive specialist, and the Magic desperately could use that. Here's DeAndre's Twitter account if you want to give the guy support.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who Orlando Should Expect To Get At #53?



Here we go, folks. Draft day is upon us. Many are hoping that when we wake up tomorrow, Otis Smith will have traded for someone like Chris Paul, Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, etc. Not likely since all rumors have very quickly died down (especially on the Josh Smith front). Although the potential for trades is more important than the actual #53 pick, here's who various media outlets and draft experts believe we'll snag tonight should we keep our pick.

NBA Draft Express: 6'6" SG/SF David Lighty

David Lighty seems to be the favorite to be taken at #53 if he's still on the board.Here is one of his combine interviews. Lighty seems to be a very composed guy who has the Kevin Durant backpack look down pat. He 'gets it' when it comes to molding yourself into the most workable piece of a team's puzzle. Whether that's providing offense and/or defense, the Ohio State senior is very mature to accept whatever duties are thrown upon him. Lighty is also one of the few draft prospects that is older than me (by 3 days) at age 23.

NBADraft.net: 6'4" PG/SG E'twaun Moore

Another player who stayed all four years in college, the Purdue Boilermaker is dubbed a 'tweener' at this point. It's probably best that Otis Smith avoid undersized guys, which is why Lighty is such the favorable pick. But Moore is a known winner and his style of play seems to remind me of Keyon Dooling, only taller. Provides some scoring, isn't the best athlete, but is a hard-nosed guy that can play defense. I don't like that he compares himself to Gilbert Arenas or Tracy McGrady. That's not him. I'd prefer Lighty.

Unless you want to subscribe to ESPN's Insider, those are the two most reputable and free NBA Draft outlets. The only other guy I'd keep an eye on is Scotty Hopson. This definitely has hops, and can stroke it. I'd put Lighty at 1a. and Hopson at 1b. I'll gladly take either one of those guys.
No matter who we get, or any other team gets for that matter, all fans of basketball should watch. Starting at 7 p.m. EST, tune into ESPN to check out the nauseating coverage of a lengthy night of analysis and speculation. David Stern can make the evening extra fun if he says these 4 words several times tonight: "We have a trade."

This may be the last NBA public event we see in a while. If we're lucky, we may get an Orlando Summer League to feel excited for. Other than that, only thing remaining is EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania a few months from now.


Monday, June 20, 2011

On This Day, June 20th: Shaqey Mouse, Donald Royal's Relevance, and Dwight Wants To Be #1



1992:

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1992-06-20/sports/9206200902_1_magic-shaq-waiting

For the past month or so, the Orlando Magic were doing their best to convince Shaquille O'Neal into being happy to become their #1 pick selection. Never had a potential draft choice been recruited so much as Shaq was. Barry Cooper wrote his article on Shaq's visit to Orlando with his father and 12-year-old brother.

Selena Roberts, to her credit, took a more exposing and blunt approach as to how that trip actually went. If you based what you believed Shaq would do off her piece, you would have thought Shaq would rather play in Antarctica than Orlando:



They weren't here. Only about 75 showed up for Shaq's arrival Friday morning, though Magic GM Pat Williams claimed there were 200 in front of Shaq. No, Pat. Stop trying to impress. Stop trying - like everyone else - to say the right things.

It's as if no one in the city wants to offend Shaq for fear of being held personally responsible should he snub Orlando.

So, as we were saying, there were 10,000 fans cheering as Shaq landed.
He emerged from the small jet like a giant trying to squeeze out through a cruise ship porthole.

Then, the 7-footer seemed to shrink, like a pupil exposed to a bright light. His voice was so small for his size. No matter. The soft speaker gave the video cameras and tape recorders nothing but blank, empty statements.

''Yeah, I'm excited to be here,'' he said, his voice seeming as sincere as a kid forced to apologize after a school fight.

He can't be blamed for his indifference, though. He has more on his mind than smiling at the cameras and shopping at the Magic Fan Attic, which is where Williams steered him on the way into town.

More hype. Shaq in a Magic gift shop. The thing is, Shaq wasn't buying it, unimpressed with the Magic's offering, a $300 shopping spree. Shaq just drifted around, while his 12-year-old brother bought up the place.

Shaq, for sure, didn't buy any shoes. There were no Reeboks in the store, only Nikes. Don't worry, Shaq. They're on order.

The catering, the kissing up, all this gushing was gross. And unnecessary. Shaq was here for business, not hype. He didn't create this circus. He shouldn't have to jump through hoops to please anyone.



1995:

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1995-06-20/sports/9506200112_1_players-decertify-advisory-committee

I won't summarize this article too much, but Donald Royal was the Magic's players' union representative. Royal rarely got much interview time, so to see any quotes from him is pretty awesome. Though this was quite the serious matter as the players were threatening to decertify their own union because of secrecy issues. Now, the Lockout is right around the corner, and stuff like this has to remain in your mind with the risk of no basketball in October.

2004:

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2004-06-20/sports/0406200272_1_dwight-howard-magic-okafor

This was a strenuous period in Orlando Magic history. We just came off the our worst season in over a decadeJohn Weisbrod had come in as General Manager to cleanse us of Tracy McGrady and to bulldoze a fresh path. Our franchise's existence was on the line. That Amway Center does not get built if we picked Emeka Okafor instead of Dwight Howard.

There's no doubt in my mind that this team very well could be in Kansas City right now. If Dwight wasn't so impressive in his workouts in interviews, that easily could have happened. Okafor was almost the shoe-in #1 pick when we had assured ourselves of having the first pick in the Draft Lottery. Thankfully for us Weisbrod, with assistance from Otis Smith and Dave Twardzik, was also one to keep an open mind and he knew how special Dwight could become.

Thanks again 'JW' for all the controversial stuff you did, and congratulations on finally winning that Stanley Cup you killed for with the Bruins.


Dwight Howard's Interview in Madrid




Dwight chatting it up a bit in Spain during his Adidas European tour. Talks about the impending lockout, Arenas, and teaming up with Hakeem again. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jermaine Taylor Just Became Available



Well, some of you knew this post was coming being I'm such a fanatical UCF Knights guy. So the Sacramento Kings just waived 2nd year NBA player Jermaine Taylor today. The Kings just extended a qualifying offer to Marcus Thornton for him to stay there. They're looking at SGs and SFs in the draft. Already if you look at his Twitter account (@jtaylor8ball), you can see he'd love to play for the Magic or Miami. Otis Smith should want him to come home as well.


The guy can basically play like Courtney Lee did here during our Finals run if asked of him, but I have no doubt his potential is way better. Jermaine is definitely anathletic freak. Plus, he's more than affordable. Taylor put up a career-high 21 points against the Magic in February.

You see in all of his interviews with any Orlando media that he would love to play ball in Florida. No doubt a team like the Miami Heat would have massive interest in him to provide solid bench minutes at minimum. The Beast just needs playing time.


My Extra-Long Dwight Howard 'Free Agency' Thoughts


Obviously since this is an opinion piece, feel free to critique and shred it to pieces if I do not appease you. It's clear we're going to see hundreds if not thousands of these types of Dwight Howard 'what will he do?' discussions in the upcoming calendar year, so I'm very slowly going to start ignoring these because at one point or another you're just repeating yourselves. 


A husband can slap his wife around so much until she's just numb to the situation and just accepts the madness of how things are. I think that's what other fanbases and media outlets are trying to get started as far as Dwight Howard's 'inevitable escape' from this 'little tourism town'. Don't make me gag. The way this summer is progressing, I'll be whipping out Danny Glover Lethal Weapon references in no time.

As I've stated before in the past, it's in this Orlando Magic franchise's best interest to not trade Dwight. Period. Everyone should know that characteristically he's very unique. The man is a league standard when it comes to charities and volunteering his personal time and resources to all sorts of causes. His family is here in Orlando. Wants to watch his son grow up here. His own parents and close relatives always talk about how much they love our city. 



This town is almost the perfect fit for him. Nothing too massive but there's enough to do where a man can never be bored. People will whip out LeBron and 'Melo in saying 'oh, he's no different from those guys'. Wrong. Those two don't hold a candle to this guy in every facet of life and basketball. 




The man is a legitimate worldwide icon. He goes to such places as China, India, Africa for all sorts of basketball camps and seminars where those big name guys don't. He's leading the new movement of big time superstars that includes Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Derrick Rose that provide a fresh face to growing the game and living out David Stern's dream. He's ascending up the upper echelon of recognizable international athletes (in any sport). 


He's way bigger than Shaq ever was in his Magic days. He already makes millions off of sponsors (Could be reaching $1 billion soon). Has an acting career as well as a music career. Could his non-basketball 'aura' grow if he went somewhere 'bigger'? Of course, but that should have no influence on what he wants to accomplish in the NBA.

Now, if Dwight verbally says "trade me" before summer of 2012 arrives then things change. But that's highly unlikely since he's a free agent next year. He's been very upfront about how he feels, especially on Twitter. There's been zero indication that Dwight dislikes Orlando or the franchise he plays for. All he's basically requested are guys to play harder (Which means new players, but obviously he's not dumb enough to throw current teammates under the bus). If it all ends up being an act to deceive us, then well shame on him. Karma can be a bitch (*cough* McGrady *cough*). Again, it's up to Stan Van Gundy to change up his system (It wouldn't be the first time). It's up to Otis Smith to tweak the roster. 



Rich DeVos has to continue to keep breathing and the checkbook will be there for signings. The guys on our current roster have to improve themselves (and heal up in many cases). Barring a horrendous natural disaster, Amway Center is brand new and the best building in the world that will hopefully host the 2012 All-Star Weekend. Our local media has to avoid any more polls and dumb articles (impossible I know). The fans have to disregard all uninformative dribble that comes out of ESPN or any 'expert's' mouth and continue to support the team and Dwight. 


It would also help if Dwight could recruit a bit, and something tells me he is. Obviously other than the Draft, not much will be done until after the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is hatched out (Sooner rather than later we can all agree on). You can make your own predictions and speculations on how or if these things get done.

If he wants to leave come next summer, fine. Make him walk away on his own. Force Dwight to abandon the community that has embraced him for 7 years and watched him develop into the star he is now. Don't bail him out like Carmelo and Deron Williams did. The only reason Dwight will walk is if the team isn't in a position to win a title and someone else offers him everything this team and town offers. Dwight doesn't enjoy being disliked. 



You're seeing it bother LeBron, Wade, and Bosh now and I know damn sure Dwight doesn't want to invite that upon him. As usual, many will come out and say 'who the hell are you to believe all of this and expect me to comply and trust you?' Well, that's all based on myself being a diehard Magic fan and Orlando native resident for 23 years now and having basically seen every meaningful moment in this town's sports history. 


I don't have 'insiders' and I damn sure don't plan on pretending to have talked to Dwight Howard other than a greeting or two outside of clubs, and a game of Words With Friends that he never completed. I'm also blessed to have an odd knack for accumulating basketball news and rumors quite quickly and efficiently to where I know what looks legit and what is sheer speculation (for the most part). All I know is, I'll be damned if guys like Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Jon Barry, Chris Broussard, Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, etc. believe they have a much better opinion or 'sources' than me. 


If you want to believe players from all around the league and what opinions they have, that's more than fine since they actually talk to Dwight and deal with him in informal settings. 


So here I've done my own personal list of all other 29 teams looking to acquire Dwight's services and what 'chances' and hopes they may have of nabbing him during free agency next summer. My reasons and explanations are off the wall. Keep in mind also, though Dwight may be a free agent, a sign-and-trade situation is prevalent for about 95% of the league who wishes to bring in Superman. 


Let's just say I've typed all of this out to also deter some of the delusional fanbases out there that severely need a kick in the balls. I may be biased, but a reasonable individual can always separate their bias from pure logic and sociological analysis.

1. Atlanta- Hometown aspect is a really big deal and always a threat to us. I'm sure they'll try and have some type of package put together surrounding Josh Smith. After that, who knows what we'd may want. It's not all that appealing to be honest. I just don't think their front office will really make much of a push in the end. Also, Dwight hasn't made a peep yet about even playing for Atlanta. You never trade within your division when it comes to big names. Hell, in this Dwight-Orlando situation, the Magic wouldn't want Howard in the Eastern Conference if he absolutely wanted out of Orlando. Still, got to be in Dwight's proverbial top 5 right now.

2. Boston- They'll push because KG, Ray Ray, and Mr. Wheelchair are about done. That leaves Rajon Rondo basically. Oh yeah, did I mention Dwight absolutely hates the Celtics and their fans? Tough to say if he hates Boston or the Lakers more. Boston really is such a spoiled sports town that they feel entitled to never have on of their beloved teams suck. Sorry Celtics, but keep dreaming about those elbows being in green arm sleeves. 



3. Charlotte- Michael Jordan isn't exactly a master when it comes to running a team, at any level. Again, you never trade within your division when it comes to big names. As a city, Charlotte is like Orlando's twin but better. In the end, Bobcats still have a lot of building to do.

4. Chicago- This is the only 'big' team he hasn't really talked about. We know he supposedly likes Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer (Emphasis on supposedly). Bulls have some trade chips and would have to move some juicy pieces to accommodate Dwight. Got to be in the top 5 of possibilities, especially if Rose could somehow put his hero ball to the side and let the big man dominate when needed.

5. Cleveland- So, um, yeah, uh, right. *Adonal Foyle face*

6. Dallas- First off, thank you for showing the world that an actual team with just one superstar can win a title. I think had the Mavs not won the title that they would have been very strong suitors for Dwight, and Howard would feel extra pressure to team up with at least one more superstar. Cuban was frothing at the mouth for a title and money is no problem with that man. So thankfully, I think they're out of the picture. Plus, they don't really have many trade chips that are attractive to the situation. 



7. Denver- I know most Magic fans would like to have some of their pieces: Chandler, Gallinari, Nene, J.R. Smith, etc. Not at the expense of Dwight obviously, but to improve this present roster. The Nuggets haven't been linked at all to the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. A lot depends on what George Karl can do with that squad for a full training camp and season. Dwight doesn't seem like a Midwest kind of guy but that Nuggets squad can makes some noise in a weakening West.

8. Detroit- May be worth a look to grab a cheap veteran now if I'm Otis. They had their good run last decade, but now it's all about youth and getting some talent to slowly improve over the next few years. No where near a contender.

9. Golden State- Momma, how about a good laugh? We'll see if Mark Jackson can indeed get that Warriors team into the playoffs. It would only be a consistent trend continued if somehow Dwight ended up here. I don't think many teams can say they've been connected as much as Orlando and Golden State have been over the past 20 years. Not a contender even if they do make the top 8 in the West.

10. Houston- They have the only other big man in the league that is as dominant as Dwight. Unfortunately for them and Yao Ming, his playing career is on very thin ice (It may have fallen through already). They just hired Kevin McHale after Rick Adelman kept that team respectable for years. I sense an identity crisis going into next summer and continued rebuilding.

11. Indiana- Put up a valiant effort against the Bulls in this postseason, but that franchise has been extremely inconsistent. It would help if Danny Granger and others could stay healthy. Pacers fans have to ask themselves: 'Can we provide something better than Orlando?' I don't think they can whole-heartily say yes.

12. L.A. Clippers- It's tough to not see this as a 'potential' new destination. Clippers would trade anyone but Blake Griffin to create a new Twin Towers. However, there's not much to like about their coaching staff, and their ownership and front office has been accused (and basically proven) to be one of the worst in basketball. Still, they have trade package possibilities by having guys like Gordon, Aminu, Jordan, and Kaman. L.A. is L.A., no denying that. If Blake can stay another full season healthy, you just can't fully rule them out.  

13. L.A. Lakers- The team that ripped his heart out in '09 where he couldn't keep his hands out of his face for a full month. He likes to party there, that's about it. Kobe will be on the verge of retirement in 2012. Mike Brown being their coach isn't exactly comforting either. Clippers are a stronger suitor at this point. Lakers fans really think we care about a brittle Andrew Bynum, a weak pansy in Pau Gasol (Who brother Marc makes him look like a Paulette), and Lamar Odom who will be on the decline next year for certain. Dwight isn't Shaq. The only thing they share is a nickname. Lakers are going down a Boston path.    





14. Memphis- Remember those Z-Bo rumors that had him possibly coming to Orlando in a trade package involving Bass earlier in the season? Man do we all wish something became of that. Grizzlies ownership appears to have a rejuvenated outlook now on accomplishing big things in an otherwise miserable town. They could be possible suitors in 2012, but they have to make the playoffs again and show similar (if not better) postseason success. They currently have the pieces, but we don't know what they'll do with Rudy Gay or O.J. Mayo, nor do we know how untouchable Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are. A lot of unknowns at this time. Not sure if Dwight really cares for Tennessee either, so I'll say not a legitimate Dwight Howard sweepstakes winner.

15. Miami- Still licking their wounds. LeBron is supposedly all of a sudden tradeable now (Who would have thunk it?). Bosh is so soft that no one will want to give up much for him. Wade is the foundation as usual so he stays. LeBron is talented, we get it. But for 5 years now he can't get it done on the grandest stage of them all. He'd rather divert to Juwan Howard and Eddie House than use his God-given physique and talents to dominate whatever being may be guarding him. Little bitch or not, the Magic should see if they can get Bosh via a 3 or 4-team trade. Especially when his value is so low. Bosh was superbly efficient in the Finals. He put up 2nd option numbers in a 3rd wheel role. Remember, Bosh and Dwight have matching cowboy hats. But then again, we had to give up draft picks for Pat Riley to allow SVG to become our Head Coach. Almost forgot, we're rivals to the bitter end. So yeah, unlikely we see any type of swaps unless it's fisticuffs.  

16. Milwaukee- So many uncertainties. Very unattractive place to live in (no offence to anyone living up north). There are a few potential pieces, but get real now. Dwight wants nothing to do with this franchise.

17. Minnesota- See Milwaukee.

18. New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn Nyets)- Congrats on your pending new stadium and badass owner. Guess what though? Your weather sucks and you can't guarantee that Deron Williams will even still be around next summer. Anyone laughing at 'weather' being a big aspect obviously forgets how Dwight and the team twice went through massive delays because of snow. Athletes don't like not having control of a situation. Other than a talk show appearance, Dwight isn't mesmerized by the state of New York.

19. New Orleans- So many question marks. When will a new ownership buy the Hornets? Will Chris Paul want to stay? Even if teamed up with say a Dwight Howard, would CP3 be adamant on it happening in Louisiana? Will the franchise even remain in New Orleans? They can't be a legitimate option for Dwight unless a lot of things get sorted out by next summer. 





20. New York Knicks- Current front office uncertainties and a hefty budget already are not good if you want to give Dwight a decent contract offer. Mike D'Antoni may not be employed there by next summer, so there's that instability. Yes it's the Mecca, but Dwight (unlike Kobe, 'Melo, LeBron, etc.) has never been awe inspired about playing in an asbestos-filled Madison Square Garden. NYC is always a player in any big free agent rumors, so you can't fully eliminate them, but it's pretty apparent that Dwight doesn't want to be a Knick.

21. Oklahoma City- Been saying it since last summer, the Thunder are by far Orlando's biggest threat to nabbing Dwight. They have an abundance of trade pieces in Westbrook, Ibaka, Maynor, Harden, Perkins, etc. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook/Eric Maynor, and Dwight Howard is a scary core to fathom. Superb fanbase and ownership was already doing anything possible to ditch Seattle so you know they're all-in to win a title. OKC almost claimed our franchise, would suck if they claimed our franchise player.

22. Philadelphia- Philly always has a soft place in my heart since I'm an Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies fan. Unlike those franchises, the Sixers have no signs of showing that they want to win a title. After all, they will be trading Andre Iguodala probably this offseason. Dwight won't be here, but Jameer might.

23. Phoenix- Unless Steve Nash is still there, cross them off the list. Nash is defying age already, and doesn't have much All-Star basketball remaining in him. Suns will be fighting just to make the playoffs in the upcoming season. Besides, it's not often you see two franchises make big trades in consecutive seasons between each other.

24. Portland- They are in a bit of a front office and team identity crisis. Dwight, along with everyone else, knows that the Blazers are just cursed injury wise. It can be assumed that Portland will be in full-fledged rebuild mode by next year, if not sooner. Only thing the Blazers have going for them is a superb fanbase. Can't imagine Dwight  in a Blazers jersey.

25. Sacramento- Still rebuilding. Have some decent youth pieces but nothing to get excited for. Their ownership and franchise location is in jeopardy still. ARCO Arena (I still call it that) is as old and outdated as Amway Arena. Orlando residents can attest to what Kings fans are going through in some ways (Obviously so can the whole city of Seattle). Too many questions and definitely not championship contender ready.

26. San Antonio- Really tough to tell as no one has mentioned them as a potential suitor. The Spurs will be in rebuild mode next summer for sure. Potentially no Ginobili, Duncan, Parker, or Popovich. Ownership knows they've had a fantastic past 12 years as a franchise. Maybe they know it's time for some mediocrity. Stay away from the Alamo, Dwight. 



27. Toronto- Nice city and Canada always has good fans when the product is even just respectable. Basically one of the biggest laughing stocks in the league as they can't toughen up that franchise and put it on a sturdy path. Just not a contender for Howard.

28. Utah- Dwight's not white so I doubt they care. Seriously though, another franchise that is in rebuild mode that just doesn't have a chance to acquire a guy seeking a championship. Although I think Otis should look at Al Jefferson or Andrei Kirilenko right now.

29. Washington- Wizards would want to team Dwight up with John Wall who still isn't a guaranteed stud yet. Again, you never trade within your division when it comes to big names. Too soon to tell with that squad. Would be interesting if they somehow made the playoffs.


Sorry, that was way longer than I initially intended. Rant over for now. Basically, take everything you hear with a grain of salt unless it comes straight out of Dwight's mouth or a Magic team official's. Fasten your seat belts and have your stress medication on standby. We're in for a rare and lengthy ride.  






Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On This Day, June 14th: Farewell To The Finals



1995:

Yes, this is another one of those sad days for Orlando Magic fans across the globe. Starting with our first NBA Finals trip ending in a sweep to the back-to-back champion Houston Rockets. At least they didn't hoist the trophy on our home court.

After the Game 1 collapse, Brian Hill's squad just couldn't get a grasp of how to be competitive in the series. Rudy Tomjanovich was too good of a coach for B-Hill's staff. I guess the youth of a 6-year-old franchise finally had caught up to the roster as well. The team didn't quit on the road though, even to the bitter end of the Game 4.

Those "sweep" chants and Hakeem Olajuwon's 3-pointer didn't help the situation. Still, Magic fans and the team itself had to have been optimistic for the future. Oh what could have been.

2009:

Game 5. This season stings double. First obvious reason is that it occurred on our home court. We were hoping that the series would at least be extended to a Game 6 back in Los Angeles. But, the Amway Arena faithful had to swallow the pain of seeing the Lakers lift the Larry O'Brian Trophy in our town. The other reason is that this could easily have been Orlando up 3-1 with a chance to lift the trophy in front of its fans.

Other than Game 1, this was a very tight series where Orlando let Game 2 and Game 4 slip away in overtime defeats. That 16-0 L.A. second quarter runwas just too much to overcome. It would be the Lakers' 15th championship, Kobe's 4th ring and first without Shaq, as well as Phil Jackson's 10th as a Head Coach. I always say there's some form of luck involved in a matchup of two very close teams that separate the two.

Let's hope we don't have to wait another 14 years to get to that 3rd Finals. If you do get there, hope that the third time really is the charm. I'll say this, the images of guys like Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson's reactions of anguish will be imprinted in my mind forever.




Monday, June 13, 2011

Dwight Doing The Haka



Next season, Dwight Howard should lead the Magic with the Haka dance before every game. Superman is clearly into it, and it's the only reason why someone might be afraid to play New Zealand in any sport (other than rugby). Dwight's obviously having some fun during his NBA worldwide service trip. 


You Can Celebrate a Little Bit, Orlando Magic Fans



29 team fanbases have celebrated the demise of the Miami Heat. Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban, and that entire Dallas Mavericks franchise and community. Humanity has prevailed. The Heat are still stuck on 1 NBA championship.

To Dwight Howard and the rest of the Magic players and affiliates, I hope you followed how the world viewed this entire series. That could be us next season. But first, let's hope for a swift and efficient solution to this pending lockout. We want basketball in October, and an Amway Center All-Star Game come February. 



Thursday, June 9, 2011

On This Day, June 9th: Orlando's 1st NBA Finals Victory




1995:

This should have been the day and year where that 1st NBA Finals win came. Game 2 at the O-Rena, backs against the wall. Magic coming off a mentally jarring and heartwrenching Game 1 overtime loss. Still, the fans stayed loud and the team looked like they knew what would need to be done. But going into halftime, Orlando was down 22 points to the defending champion Houston Rockets. Orlando couldn't recover in the 3rd quarter, winning that period only 30-27, remaining down 19 heading into the final quarter where the hole was just too deep. You just can't start out games horribly.

As we all know, the next 2 games in Houston wouldn't go over so well and we'd get swept to a superior team. Never did our city and team believe it'd take 14 years to get back to the Finals for, basically in our franchise's short timeline, another generation of Magic fans to fully enjoy.

2009:

This Magic squad was also coming off a hearbreaking overtime loss. This was a different situation though against the Lakers. Orlando was back home for 3 straight games and you'd hope they could overcome the 2 losses in Los Angeles. So here came Game 3, the biggest basketball game in Orlando sports history at the Amway Arena. As usual throughout our playoff run, we went with Gina Marie Incandela to sing the National Anthem and provide us her usual good luck.

It proved to be our team's most efficient game. The difference ended up being that 32-23 second quarter as Orlando went into halftime up five. The entire 2nd half was an epic deadlock. Every Magic fan had to be on edge (I sure as hell was). 5 Magic men scored 18 or more points: Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Rafer Alston, and Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus was our bench savior again and played the game of his life.

Jameer Nelson continued to struggle, while Rafer finally put together a superb game. It ended up being a narrow 108-104 win, but it was definitely well-earned. 62.5% field goal shooting is phenomenal for any game, let alone a Finals contest. Good times would be had downtown that night.



Unfortunately for us, Game 3 is our franchise's only NBA Finals victory to date. Let's hope Dwight Howard can take us back there.  







Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On This Day, June 7th: NBA Finals Pain & Heartbreak



It was painful stumbling across these correlations, let alone writing about them. Both involve the NBA Finals, both involve overtime losses that should have been wins and would have potentially changed the outlook of both series.

I'm talking about 1995 and 2009. It's safe to say that Nick Anderson and Courtney Lee have never really been the same since their separate debacles as far as career paths and just plain on the court demeanor go. Funny enough, both men had some pretty phenomenal plays that were signature moments in their respective playoff runs.

Obviously, we all know Nick Anderson had The Steal on Michael Jordan:



Courtney Lee was crowned 'Leesus' after two disgusting dunks that he snuck by LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals:








1995:

Orlando had just come off a triumphant Game 7 victory over the Indiana Pacers to get to this position, hosting Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the raucous O-Rena. It was the Magic's first trip to the Finals in their young 6-year existence. Houston were the defending champions. Orlando only had one experienced playoff man in Horace Grant.

At halftime, Orlando was up 11. But Houston, being the underdog team they were throughout the postseason, destroyed the Magic 37-19 in the 3rd quarter. Final quarter comes, Orlando down 7 at home. They fought back and had a decent enough cushion heading into the final half minute. And then, well, click at your own peril.

Then of course Kenny Smith sends the game to overtime with the unbelievable 3-pointer. Penny guarded him pretty well on that shot too. Kenny on numerous occasions admits that Penny's hand blocked his view of the basket (Makes every Magic fan feel infinitely worse). In overtime, Houston had control until Dennis Scott tied the game at 118 a piece with 5.5 seconds left.

On the final possession, Clyde Drexler drove to the hole, took a tough lay-up over Shaq that rolled a bit before falling off the rim and Hakeem comes out of nowhere for the awkward tip-in as he shoved Horace Grant out of the way simultaneously.

Nick Anderson had a great game when you look at the boxscore. 22 points off 50% shooting, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals. His ONLY blemish were those 4 free throws, which were his only attempts on the evening. Orlando was the worst free throw shooting team in the league, and it eventually bit us in the rear. If Nick makes JUST ONE, the series picture completely changes. Obviously we don't get swept, and who knows what momentum would have carried over to Game 2.

2009:

Dwight Howard and crew had done it. We dispatched of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games and made our triumphant return to the last stage of nabbing a championship. Game 1 of the NBA Finals we got shellacked by the Lakers. There were doubts about why we let Jameer Nelson come back and take Rafer Alston's minutes. Doubt was setting in. However, Game 2 was ours. We'd fought so hard the entire game to get into a winning position in the final minutes. Lee had missed a relatively easy lay-up with 10 seconds to go.

Thankfully, Hedo got a great block on Kobe on the other end and was smart enough to call timeout with 0.6 seconds remaining. That set up another superb Stan Van Gundy final play call.

You look at that final play call in regulation, and you wonder how the refs didn't call a foul on Kobe for blatantly holding Lee. Then the obvious offensive goaltending call on Pau Gasol was clearly ignored. Pau went through the net AND the rim. Just unbelievable. Then you get to Lee's lay-up, that was no gimme. Courtney's entire body is either under or behind the backboard.

The fact he even mustered up a great enough shot attempt is a testament to the man's athleticism. Just a shame to see one of Rashard Lewis' best performances ever go to waste.

Remember folks, Courtney Lee was a rookie. The guy had no fear though. He was our 1st round draft pick and he was counted on to knock down his open looks as a 4th or 5th option, as well as being a lockdown defender. The kid did well.

It's a shame now that he's played 3 NBA seasons for 3 teams. The man from Western Kentucky hasn't been in a winning situation since we decided to take a risk and package him in the Vince Carter-Ryan Anderson trade with New Jersey that we all continue to look back on.

Which day hurts more? You be the judge. I always go back and forth on it. That day in '95 ended up being our last final great moment until 2009 in a way. '95 was a home loss. Our youthful team could have been resilient enough to come back the next night game and won, but just couldn't gut it out. That was a fairly high scoring series and the Magic, though we got swept, were in every game. We just didn't have enough to knock off the champion Rockets. '09 was different. Lakers had no right to win Game 2, yet they took it from us.

Then we took Game 3 at Amway Arena in what was our first (and still only) NBA Finals victory. Then in Game 4 we swallowed another heartbreaking overtime loss. Kobe and his crew were too much for us again and celebrated their championship in Game 5. We have no championships in Orlando when, potentially, we could have two.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Otis Smith Has Plenty of Options To Work With This Summer


Most experts and Orlando Magic fans seem to believe that there isn't much flexibility when it comes to the team and improving to become a championship contender again. Well, someone on RealGM has WAY too much on their hands and has listed out SEVERAL options and paths the front office can choose.

It's quite impressive the effort that was put into it. Before posting the entire thing, I will preface that I don't agree with a lot of suggestions or the probability of some of these things occurring.

It's just a guide of what options are available to our General Manager. Also keep in mind, we're waiting on a lockout and what will result from that. It's a long, and grueling read that can take days for one to fully process. There's also a Dwight Howard trade situation there which is obviously an 'in case Dwight demands out of town' situation. We all want Dwight here. Period. There are spelling and grammar errors that I tried to not tweak.

Remember, this is from a message board, but one of the best forums around for Orlando Magic fans. Might be better just clicking the link and reading it there since it's a bit better spread out there. Anyway, well done LBPTarHeel27. Get a Twitter account already.

Introduction


With the Dwight extension looming, there is a lot to consider in respect to how this team will move forward and attempt to improve. This off season will be a long process and could take until next summer to fully resolve itself. Regardless of the path this team takes, it will take a lot of phone calls from Otis Smith to other GM's and FA's. In sever different instances this team can come out with a title contending team if the right pieces fall in place...all of which I see as being extremely possible. Otis should approach this off season in stages. Certain possibilities will lead him down multiple different paths and will present new opportunities.

The Off Season should play out as such...


-Otis has a sit down with Gilbert Arenas. He needs a solid commitment one way or the other regarding restructuring his contract. This will determine what path Otis begins to head down: Load Up or Unload.

-If Gilbert does agree to restructure, you then use the Amnesty Clause to let Hedo Turkoglu go once the new CBA comes out. If he doesn't, you keep him.

-Now the trading begins. If Gill agrees to restructure, Otis let's the TPE's expire and looks to unload any contract we have that lasts past the summer of 2012 to free up room for CP3 or D-Will. Once he does that, he rides out the roster he has for this season.

-If Gill doesn't, Otis would evaluate the use of the TPE's we possess. What can we get? You want to try and find a way to use in a trade to land a big name player. They can't be combined with players but they can be used in a separate deal with that same team.

-After this, the new CBA would come out. Otis' approach would depend on Gilbert's choice. If he agrees, Otis would likely not be using the MLE, only using Vet Mins. If not, Otis goes all out in an attempt to bring in quality guys around Dwight.

-If there are no deals that we truly believe get us back to contending, Otis should just take his FA's and current roster in to the new season and wait to see if something presents itself. There are teams like Memphis, New Orleans, New Jersey, and Indiana that could be looking to trade their big name guys when they are not at all right now. All of those are capable of being huge disappointments or guys could ask out.

-If no great trade options present themselves, you explore the unthinkable: trading Dwight. You clearly don't just look to unload him, you look to put this franchise in a better position. Options would be very limited.

Here is a little overview of some options...

Gilbert's relationship with Otis Smith, if it is as strong as publicized, could be something that saves this franchise from mediocrity. It is clear that our management wants to win and has been willing to do whatever it took...if we saw that from Gilbert, that would be huge. It may actually play in his favor. At this point in his career and with his knees, who knows how much longer he really has. He would be under contract for 2 more years if he picked up his option. If he opts out, he can sign a new deal that would stretch 4-5 years and give him more security. 



Same amount of money, just over a longer period of time. The only money he may lose out on is if he rode out his current contract and signed a vet min contract for a couple years (all he would really be able to get at that point). So he would lose anywhere from 3-6 million realistically....not much of a dent in his wallet to help your team win a title.

It seems like the majority of the board is in the impulsive mode, looking to acquire any kind of talent no matter the cost. Names like Baron Davis, Carlos Boozer, Brandon Roy, Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis, and others have been tossed around as a possible or "realistic" way to improve the team this off season. While it may be an increase in talent, do any of those guys really help make the Magic any closer to a contender? Opinions will clearly differ on that but I think it is fair to say that there really aren't any GREAT options when it comes to who we could trade for this summer.

Clearing room for a Max FA in the summer of 2012 may not be as impossible as originally thought. It would take two big factors to play in our favor. The Amnesty Clause would have to become something we can use on Hedo and Gilbert would have to restructure his deal. The Amnesty Clause is likely going to happen. Gilbert on the other hand will be the big question. After that...it is a matter of Otis trading away our guys who have contracts going in to the 2012-2013 season for expiring contracts. If you look at who those guys would be, it shouldn't be too difficult at all.

Not many people have proposed the idea of waiting until the trade deadline. This may be the only way of truly improving around Dwight, enough to the point where this team can take down the elite. As I said before...there are not currently many great options to trade for. On top of that, we don't have that great of trade assets. If we were to load up as much as possible via FA with talent, it makes trading much more possible. 



In addition, if you wait until the trade deadline, there are going to be teams that did not live up to expectations and want to cut salary. This is where our "good" options will come from. With a competitive Western Conference, even teams that would be a Top 5 seed in the East can miss the playoffs all together. As Magic fans, we need to hope that teams like New Orleans, Memphis, and Indiana have extremely disappointing seasons...allowing their top players to become available.

Then you have the option that no one WANTS to see but could be the teams true best option at building a title contender...as crazy as it sounds. Trading a superstar is never easy but when your GM has screwed up this bad, some times you just don't have a choice. With an extended Dwight, the "Big Three" of Dwight, Hedo & Gilbert will combine for around 48 Mill in 2011-2012, 51.5 Million in 2012-2013, and 55.5 Mill in 2013-2013. That is with what is expected to be a 56-60 Million dollar hard cap that will go down...not up. 



You can't build a contender with that without a LOT of luck and help. If you find a taker for Dwight+Arenas or Dwight+Hedo and you can cut the other using the Amnesty Clause, you have to at least see what you can get out of it. It may end up being better than anything else that can be done.



The Key = Gilbert Arenas

First things, first...As stated before, the key to everything is Gilbert Arenas. The first thing that needs to be done once the new CBA is out is to sit down with Gilbs and get a solid commitment from him on opting out. I do believe that this team can get back to championship form even with Gilbert but you need a solid answer so you know how to operate going forward. He is owed around 43 million over the two years that he would pick up. If Otis were able to talk Gilbert in to opting out for a new deal that would offer the SAME money over a longer period of time, the deal that could be on the table may look like:

(~43mil) over 4 years (8.500.000/10.000.000/11.500.000/13.000.000)


That is huge because it would decrease his effect on our cap situation by 12.3 Million for the summer of 2012. If you can pair that with the "amnestizing" of Hedo, you shed a total of 33.7 Million for the summer of 2012. We are a couple trades away from being in shape to land CP3 or D-Will outright at that point.

This whole scenario is tough to have faith in because that is just it...it is all going on faith. Not much is certain here. You may have Gilbert's word that he will opt out the following summer but you don't know for sure. What if he changes his mind at the end of the season after multiple moves are made to unload cap? Imagine if here were to go back on his word, leaving us with ONLY Dwight & Gilbert going in to the summer of 2012 but only having a few million to spend. After that, you have to have faith in the fact that Dwight can bring CP3 or D-Will to Orlando. It may come down to what competition there is out there but you have to believe that at least one of them would be interested in joining Dwight, especially CP3. Still, that is a lot to wager the future of your franchise on.

That being said, I still think it is THE best option for this team to contend for a title WITH Dwight. So you have Gilbert's word on restructuring, you have cut Hedo via the Amnesty Clause...next is trading every contract that lasts past this coming season for expiring deals. 

Clearing Cap for CP3/D-Will

The best option could be in Portland. I loved this idea thrown out by NoLimit recently that helps us do this...I've added a bit more to it to help us even further.

Orlando Trades:
JJ Redick (6.0)
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Chris Duhon (3.7)
Quentin Richardson (2.5)
Outgoing: 23.5 Million

Portland Trades:

Marcus Camby (9.3 expiring)
Andre Miller (7.8 expiring)
Rudy Fernandez (2.2 expiring)
Luke Babbit (1.9 expiring)
Elliot Williams (1.4 expiring)
Outgoing: 22.6 Million

PG Andre Miller/Gilbert Arenas
SG Rudy Fernandez/_________/Elliot Williams
SF _____________/__________/Luke Babbitt
PF Ryan Anderson/__________
C Dwight Howard/Marcus Camby/Daniel Orton

This move that would seemingly be a no-brainer for Portland would set us up quickly to land a top FA via 2012 Free Agency. In addition, it is a nice veteran squad that could have success in its one year run. If not? A higher draft pick if we choose not to trade it.

At this point, looking to the summer of 2012...we would be on the books for:

Dwight Howard: 19.3 Million
Gilbert Arenas: 8.5 Million
Total Salary: 27.8 Million

That is pretty damn impressive considering we were sitting at 89.1 Million for the 2010-2011 season. At the beginning, I said for the sake of uncertainty we would place the cap at 55 million...lower than what most people expect it to be. That would leave the team with 27.2 Million to spend via FA in 2012. 



That is A LOT of money to spend when you already have your superstar locked in. For comparison, in the first year of his crazy max deal...Joe Johnson was making just over 18 million. Contracts are expected to reduce by 20-30%. That means that the Magic MAY be able to sign two max FA's. The thing is...there aren't two guys out there that the Magic would target who are worth max money. Obviously D-Will & CP3 are the two we target first, but we would never go after both nor would both want to come here and split minutes. 


So, again for the sake of uncertainty, let's say that we do land one of the two for a max deal that starts for the amount of their current PO (even though it would likely be less).

Dwight Howard: 19.3 Million
Gilbert Arenas: 8.5 Million
Chris Paul: 17.8 Million
Total Salary: 45.6 Million

That means we still have roughly 10 Million to spend on the right role players. That is a great luxury to potentially have. Instead of just shelling out the vet min, you can sign guys who make a big impact. Looking forward to the summer of 2012 you take a look at who is available...

Landry Fields (R), Brook Lopez (R), Kevin Love (R), Michael Beasley (R), Eric Gordon (R), Chris Kaman (U), Courtney Lee (R), Raymond Felton (U), Danilo Gallinari (R), Jason Kidd (U), Jason Terry (U), Antawn Jamison (U), JJ Hickson (R), Kevin Garnett (U), Kirk Hinrich (U), Vince Carter (U)

While that is a really nice class of non-max FA's, the majority of them are restricted...at least the really good ones. Not only that, but they are guys that their teams are likely to bring back. Of those RFA's, I can really only see Beasley & Lee getting away. After that, the UFA's are some solid vets but nothing to go crazy about. So what does that mean for our money that needs to be spent?

You could look at signing a FA with the MLE this season who would be a valuable piece to help build around Dwight & CP3/D-WIll. Glen Davis could be an attainable player who is still fairly young but has that championship experience that is invaluable. Dwight needs help down low and while Glen Davis isn't tall, he is big and knows how to use his weight. If we are talking wings, Wilson Chandler would be the dream but would he really be attainable for the MLE? I don't think so. 



J.R. Smith would be available for the MLE though. While he is by no means the most attractive option, scoring would be invaluable the first season with Dwight & CP3/D-Will. Look at the Heat, outside of the Big 3...they got nothing from anyone until recently when Haslem returned and Miller hit his stride. I think it would be wise to target a guy who can get to the hoop and score from the outside.

For the one year run, you fill in with vet mins...

2011-2012 Roster
PG Andre Miller/Gilbert Arenas
SG JR Smith/Rudy Fernandez/Elliot Williams
SF Tracy McGrady/DeShawn Stevenson/Luke Babbitt
PF Ryan Anderson/Kenyon Martin
C Dwight Howard/Marcus Camby/Daniel Orton

Nothing special but it is a team that is capable of competing at least as much as this past year's squad. When the goal is to prep for the following summer, this is not a bad lineup to go with for one season. I'd say that overall it is better than we have had since we went to the finals.

In this scenario we are now officially in the summer of 2012. Ryan Anderson will be a restricted FA and retaining his rights may lock up the remainder of our cap room (depending on where the cap is set at). In order to retain his rights, we would lock up 5.6 Million (2011-2012 Contract x 250%) However, this is something that should be done. He fills a hole, is young & improving, and already a quality player.

http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#Q31

On The Books as of Summer 2012

Dwight Howard: 19.3 Million
Gilbert Arenas: 8.5 Million
Chris Paul: 17.8 Million
JR Smith: 5.5 Million
Ryan Anderson: 5.6 Million
Total Salary: 56.7 Million

PG Chris Paul/Gilbert Arenas
SG JR Smith/____________
SF ___________/___________
PF Ryan Anderson/__________
C Dwight Howard/___________

If that isn't a good place to start, I don't know what is. While you are only left with the Vet Min to offer, you have believe that some guys may be willing to take that who would typically be making a little more now that this team is built to win. Guys like Antawn Jamison & Jason Terry may fit that bill but those are the only two who really would take that amount to win and fill a need of ours. You can take Jason Terry off the list...if he is going to do such a thing, it would be for Dallas. Jamison could be a nice option though. We will peg him as the one guy who takes less to play for us...for probably the first time ever.

After that, fill in with true Vet Min players. It would be HUGE if we could convince Camby to come back after one season. I would imagine that playing behind Dwight on a winning team to finish a his career is a solid option for him.

PG Chris Paul/Gilbert Arenas
SG JR Smith/Keith Bogans
SF Andres Nocioni/Carlos Delfino
PF Ryan Anderson/Antawn Jamison
C Dwight Howard/Marcus Camby

The options are MUCH more limited on role players next offseason. There really isn't much there to work with so we would truly have to capitalize on what was actually there.

The roster isn't perfect but as seen with the Heat this year, you can't get multiple Max players AND put a bunch of good role players around them in one off season. Despite that, that is a squad that I would put money behind every night. This, in my mind, is the best route to getting back to the NBA Finals...it is just unfortunate that it all hinges on Gilbert Arenas and what he wants to do. 

Gortat & Lewis TPE's

If Gilbert's definite answer is no...or if he just won't give a definite answer, the next step is figuring out if it is in our interest to use our TPE's. Due to the CBA expiring as of July 1st, our TPE's would no longer be valid after that date. If it is going to be used, it will be used before the end of the month.There are a few options when it comes to how it could be used. This is what we are looking at trading...

Gortat TPE: 6.322 Million (Meaning we can acquire up to 125% of that value = 7.9 Million)
Rashard TPE: 1.843 Million (Meaning we can acquire up to 125% of that value = 2.3 Million)


Unfortunately these TPE's CANNOT be combined in one deal, they have to be used separately. In terms of the Gortat TPE...Otis can find a player he likes on a team looking to shed salary who makes anywhere up to 7.9 Million. He could also find a team looking to shed salary that has a highly paid player or players that Otis is interested in... working multiple deals with that same team, sending them our valuable trade assets in one deal and the TPE in exchange for a bad contract in another. 



The final possibility could be a factor if wants to acquire an expiring contract. This could come in handy because of the fact that the TPE would expire on the 1st of July...the next best thing is an expiring contract. If Otis can find a decent player with an expiring contract, it could become valuable later in the summer or come the trade deadline.

Potentially Available Players Making Up to 7.9 million That Fit Our Needs:

James Posey (6.9 Million Expiring) - Indiana would do it without event thinking...frees them up for another 6.9 Million in immediate cap this summer.
Ron Artest (6.8 Million, PO next summer for 2 more years) - Lakers may be looking to shed his contract, gives us toughness and defense.
Darko Milicic (4.8 Million, 3 Years left) - Our depth behind Dwight? Could be a solid, quick fix if Minny would be interested.
Travis Outlaw (7 Mill, 3 Years Left) - New Jersey may be interested in dumping his contract after a sub par season, could give us wing depth.
Andres Nocioni (6.7 Million, TO; basically expiring) - Philly has been said to be looking to shed salary. This deal could be one included as a second deal in a move for Iggy/Brand.
Josh Childress (6 Million, 3 years+PO) - If they decide to keep Grant Hill, there is no reason to have Childress...could be a nice addition.
Andray Blatche (6.4 Million, 4 Years Remaining) - The contract is rough but could be a nice pickup.
Marvin Williams (7.5 Million, 2 Years+PO) - Depends on Atlanta's plans, Marvin has not even come close to living up to his potential but still a solid player.
Tyrus Thomas (7.3 Million, 4 years Remaining) - Another rough contract but could be a solid contributor.
Anderson Varejao (7.7 Million, 3 Years+TO) - I could see Cleveland wanting to dump his contract in their rebuild attempt.
Al Harrington (6.2 Million, 4 Years Remaining) - I think we can all be glad we didn't end up with him last summer, no reason to go for him now.
Charlie Villanueva (7.5 Million, 2 Years+PO) - If we want to trade Bass & Anderson it may not be a terrible move...definitely not a good one though.

So what does Otis do? Remember, Otis will likely only use the TPE's if Gilbert will not commit to restructuring his contract. With the Gortat TPE, I would like to see Otis go hard after Josh Childress. He has had a year to re-adjust to the NBA and if he got back to his Atlanta form, he would be EXTREMELY valuable to this team. If we are looking to trade both Bass & Anderson, going after Anderson Varejao may be a very solid option. 



We need some energy on the defensive end and rebounding help for Dwight...he definitely provides that. With Cleveland looking to rebuild, he is someone they would likely be willing to ship out for cap relief. I think that both of those two guys are very gettable and could both help this team immediately. I personally think Varejao is the guy. The ability to trade Bass & Anderson and still have a starting PF frees us up to improve at the wing.

When it comes to the Shard TPE, I could see this one not getting used. However, it could be a nice source for depth.

Potentially Available Players Making Up to 2.3 million That Fit Our Needs:
Keith Bogans (1.7 Million Expiring) - Depends on Chicago's plans
Ben Wallace (2.2 Million Expiring) - Maybe Detroit wants instant relief
Courtney Lee (2.2 Million RFA) - Wouldn't it be sweet Otis could pull this one off? Maybe if a pick was included...
Rudy Fernandez (2.2 Million RFA) - Do him and Fran have any connection?

It would be extremely impressive if Otis was able to grab C-Lee with the Shard TPE but I just don't see Houston being interested in just that. Our 2012 Pick would sweeten any deal for a true star player so it would be wise not to waste it in attempting to bring back C-Lee. I imagine that Chicago will be going hard after a true 2nd scoring option...likely a wing. They already have Ronnie Brewer coming off the bench who finished the season strong so Bogans may be expendable. That being said, they seem to like his defense as evident from how many games he started. 



I think they'd rather have the depth and a small TPE. Ben Wallace would be the guy if we get someone with this TPE. Detroit will be under the cap this summer and they would likely be interested in getting further under the cap by trading Big Ben for instant relief. While Big Ben is obviously on his way out, he can still play some tough minutes behind Dwight. Maybe even teach him a thing or two. This is a move I really would like to see Otis execute.

The next option being to include one or both of the TPE's in a larger deal that consisted of multiple deals since the TPE's cannot be combined together or with any player. The options will be very limited as far as who we can attain prior to the start of the new season & new CBA. If Otis does decide to go this route and swing some big moves, these are what the options may look like...

Players Who Could Potentiall Be Available via Trade Prior to FA:
Joe Johnson: 5 Years, 18.0-24.9 Mill/Yr
Josh Smith: 2 Years, 12.4 & 14.2 Mill/Yr
Stephen Jackson: 2 Years, 9.3 & 10.1 Mill/Yr
Carlos Boozer: 4 Years, 13.5-16.8 Mill/Yr
Baron Davis: 2 Years, 14 & 14.9 Mill/Yr
Ben Gordon: 2 Years, 11.6 & 12.2 Mill/Yr, PO Yr 3 @ 13.2 Mill
Monta Ellis: 2 Years, 11 Mill/Yr, PO Yr 3 @ 11 Mill (+Andris Biedrins: 2 Years, 9 Mill/Per PO Yr 3 9 Mill)
Pau Gasol: 3 Years, 18.7-19.2 Mill/Yr
Ron Artest: 1 Yr, 6.8 Mill, PO Yr 2 for 2 more Years @ 7.3 & 7.7 Mill/Yr
Corey Maggette: 2 Years, 10.3 & 10.9 Mill/Yr
John Salmons: 3 Years, 8.5-7.6 Mill/Yr, TO Yr 4 @ 7 Mill
Andre Iguodala: 2 Years, 13.5 & 14.7 Mill, PO Yr 3 @ 15.9 Mill (+Elton Brand: 2 Years, 17.1 & 18.2 Mill)
Richard Jefferson: 2 Years, 9.2 & 10.1 Mill, PO Yr 3 @ 11.1 Mill

Now is that really a group of guys that we can expect to get us back in to true contention? Some may believe so, but I do not. The right mix and match may get it done but with the limited pieces we have to trade...is it even possible? No one player on there would make the difference, so how do you do it? If Otis were to commit to one or more of these deals, he would HAVE to follow up with a big time Free Agency as well. Not exactly easy to do with only the MLE, Vet Mins, & LLE to use.

We are currently locked up under any cap until the summer of 2014. Otis has a lot to consider here. If we are able to extend Dwight, it would take his contract through to the summer of 2015. How does Otis want to play it? Will he stand firm, not taking any more contracts that end after the summer of 2014....or would he try to have all contracts ending by the summer of 2015. Does he want to use the summer of 2014 to build around Dwight from scratch or does he want to go all-in even more by locking us up until Dwight is a FA...then having room to sign at least two max FA's. It is an interesting position for him to be in. The one thing we can bank on is that he will not take a contract that goes past the summer of 2015.



The Iggy Era

Philly is going to be looking to clear cap room. Andre Iguodala is coming off of a year where he showed he can be a playmaker with the ball, not just for himself...but others as well. Similar to the Hedo Turkoglu we saw at his best. The problem with that is that it gives him value. Instead of just being a bad contract Philly is looking to shed, they are going to need incentive to trade him. That is where Elton Brand comes in. Elton Brand had a very solid year as well, but he lacks trade value because of the 17-18 million he will be making and history of injuries. If a team is willing to take Elton Brand along with Andre Iguodala, Philly would be willing to deal.

We are capable of making a deal with Philly that they would potentially accept because of our ability to take Brand along with Iggy. The roadblock comes in the form of Jameer Nelson, a player that Philly would have absolutely no need for...despite being Jameer's stomping grounds. A third team would have to join the deal in order for something to work. So you take a look at the list of teams who would be interested in Jameer Nelson...

LA Lakers (Strong Interest)
Memphis Grizzlies (Strong Interest)
Miami Heat (Strong Interest)
Phoenix Suns (Moderate Interest)
New York Knicks (Moderate Interest)
Portland Trailblazers (Moderate Interest)
Indiana Pacers (Low-Moderate Interest)
Sacramento Kings (Low-Moderate Interest Depending on Evan's Health)

It is not as big of a market as you would think but there are a couple viable options, fortunately....

Orlando Trades:
Hedo Turkoglu (10.6)
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
JJ Redick (6.5)
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Outgoing: 29.5 Million

Philly Trades:
Elton Brand (17.1)
Andre Iguodala (13.5)
Outgoing: 30.6 Million

And in a separate deal, send our Gortat TPE in exchange for Andres Nocioni.

This rids them of their 3 largest contracts and replaces them with just one bad contract in Hedo Turkoglu. Most people are expecting the amnesty clause to become a reality and if it does...this deal saves Philly at least 18 million this summer alone and over 40 million over the course of the next few seasons.

That would be the base of the deal. The key is the third team. Memphis was in desperate need of scoring from the PG position. Just the ability to pose a threat would have helped their overall offense. Conley Jr. & Jameer Nelson are extremely different PG's and could give them what they were missing at the point. Would they be willing to send OJ Mayo to Philly in exchange for Jameer Nelson & a Future First? I personally believe so. With the return of Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo becomes even more expendable than he already was. They address a need and get a pick in return. If not, there are still other options. After this deal, we would look like this...

PG Gilbert Arenas/___________/Chris Duhon
SG ___________/Quinten Richardson
SF Andre Iguodala/Andres Nocioni
PF Elton Brand/Ryan Anderson
C Dwight Howard/_____________

Clearly there are several holes to fill in at this point. The problem with this deal is that it leaves Otis minimal options to explore if he wants to trade more. However, I like the idea of Iguodala's play making ability on the floor with Dwight. Brand brings rebounding and high percentage shooting. He is more of an offensive option than Bass was.

As I said before about the Shard TPE, the only guy I really see worth going after and that is a valuable option is Ben Wallace. In this specific situation, I would be willing to go back on what I said and include a pick+Shard TPE for Courtney Lee to fill our hole at SG. It all depends on if they would bite. If they don't, Detroit would welcome the immediate relief and Big Ben would fill the hole behind Dwight well.


PG Gilbert Arenas/___________/Chris Duhon
SG Courtney Lee/Quinten Richardson
SF Andre Iguodala/Andres Nocioni
PF Elton Brand/Ryan Anderson
C Dwight Howard/____________

or


PG Gilbert Arenas/___________/Chris Duhon
SG Quinten Richardson/___________
SF Andre Iguodala/Andres Nocioni
PF Elton Brand/Ryan Anderson
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace


Otis would ride that lineup in to Free Agency to see what he can add with the MLE & Vet Mins. (See "Finishing Touches" for the final additions to this lineup)

S-JAX & J-SMOOVE

Someone else that interests me a little bit is Stephen Jackson. It will be interesting to see what MJ does this year after saying he is looking to spend. Would they want to move S-Jax or hold on to him with the thought that they may be able to spend and contend. If MJ is thinking realistically, he would see that S-Jax is not going to be the core of any team taking down the Miami Heat. 



He may be better off shipping S-Jax out in return for cap friendly contracts that allow him to compete in the 2012 FA Class that could include Dwight, CP3, & D-Will....better than anyone he can spend on this summer. My personal belief is that S-Jax will be available and he has the defensive ability that would help this team as well as the ability to be a true scoring option. While he isn't a #1 scoring option, he is a great #2/#3 with Dwight. So what would it take?

Brandon Bass has a contract that would interest them. He is only making 4 Mill per with a Player Option for the 2012-2013 season that he would likely opt out of for a longer contract/more money. Money off the books in 2012 for Charlotte is what they'd be looking for. Bass fits that bill in addition to helping their need at PF. 



They would need some help on the wing to help fill the hole S-Jax would leave behind...likely requiring JJ Redick. Throw in a pick to help them build further through the draft and we may have a deal. If they prefer Ryan Anderson over Bass, I still do it as long as Earl Clark is coming back.

Orlando Trades:
Brandon Bass (4.0)
JJ Redick (6.5)
2013 First Round Pick
Outgoing: 10.5 Million

Charlotte Trades:
Stephen Jackson (9.3)
Outgoing: 9.3 Million

PG Jameer Nelson/Gilbert Arenas/Chris Duhon
SG Stephen Jackson/_____________
SF Hedo Turkoglu/Quinten Richardson
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/_____________/Daniel Orton

Next, you have to look at adding some help down low for Dwight. We lacked rebound this season and with this lineup, there is even more lacking. Dwight has said that he wants to play with Josh Smith and I could see Atlanta being willing to let him go for the right price. We come back to the same situation...finding a taker for Jameer Nelson. They already have Hinrich and Teague...so no need for Nelson. 



The Lakers are clearly in need of a PG and may be willing to make changes. They Lakers fill a need & get a young contributor with potential, Atlanta gets the best player in the deal, and we get the guy Dwight wants.

Atlanta Trades:
Josh Smith (12.4)
Outgoing: 12.4 Million

Atlanta Receives:
Lamar Odom (8.9)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Incoming: 10.0 Million

Orlando Trades:
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
Ryan Anderson (2.3)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Outgoing: 10.7 Million

Orlando Receives:
Josh Smith (12.4)
Incoming: 12.4 Million

LA Lakers Trade:
Lamar Odom (8.9)
Outgoing: 8.9 Million

LA Lakers Receive:
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
Ryan Anderson (2.3)
Incoming: 9.6 Million

None of the TPE's were needed to complete either of these deals, so they could still be utilized before July 1st. It would be a great source of depth. Grab some big guys (Ben Wallace & Anderson Varejao, two VERY gettable guys via the TPE). Otis rides this lineup to FA with the starting lineup already in place. (See "Finishing Touches" for finalized lineup)

PG Gilbert Arenas/Chris Duhon
SG Stephen Jackson/_____________
SF Hedo Turkoglu/Quinten Richardson
PF Josh Smith/Anderson Varejao/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace

MONTA ELLIS

Golden State is going to be making some changes and it has been thought for a while now that Monta Ellis would be the first to go. He is no doubt a straight up scorer. Is he the answer? Probably not...again, IMO. Despite that, Monta Ellis is a good place to start. What would it take? Well he is a young scorer with a solid contract. Therefore, he does have some value. Andris Biedrins is someone they would like to shed the contract of and would likely send away with Ellis unless they had an amazing offer, which is unlikely. 



While our TPE does not match up with anything Golden State would want to lose, we could go to a third team who has an expiring contract. Grabbing Andres Nocioni for the TPE and then adding him to the deal would give GS more incentive. Keep in mind, these are multiple deals combined in to one below...

Orlando Trades:
JJ Redick (6.5)
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
2013 First Round Pick
Gortat TPE @ 6.32 Million
Outgoing: 16.32 Million

Orlando Receives:
Monta Ellis (11.0)
Andris Biedrins (9.0)
Incoming: 20.0 Million

Golden State Trades:
Monta Ellis (11.0)
Andris Biedrins (9.0)
Outgoing: 20.0 Million

Golden State Receives:
JJ Redick (6.5)
Brandon Bass (4.0), PO/basically expiring
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Andres Nocioni (6.7), expiring
2013 First Round Pick
Incoming: 18.3 Million

Philly Trades:
Andres Nocioni

Philly Receives:
Gortat TPE @ 6.32 Million

PG Monta Ellis/Jameer Nelson/Chris Duhon
SG Gilbert Arenas/_________
SF Hedo Turkoglu/Quinten Richardson/_________
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Andris Biedrins

That is some creative financing, if you ask me. Still leaves us with the ability to trade Jameer+Anderson+Clark if we wanted to. Trading Jameer at this point is all but a certainty...there is a huge jam at PG and Jameer would obviously be the guy to go. There is also a need for a SG...and because of Ellis' love to shoot, it would be wise to target a more defensive minded or bigger SG. 



There are a few options in FA that could work. There also some solid options for big man depth. That gives Otis the ability to just find the best package possible. I think Otis should go after a younger guy with potential...

Orlando Trades:
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
Lewis TPE @ 1.84 Mill (Separate Deal)

Memphis Trades:
OJ Mayo (5.6)
Ishmael Smith (0.8)

PG Monta Ellis/Gilbert Arenas/Chris Duhon
SG OJ Mayo/_________
SF Hedo Turkoglu/Quinten Richardson/_________
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Andris Biedrins

This is where Otis rides in to Free Agency to fill the holes with the MLE & Vet Mins. I think it is a solid start but there needs to be a good addition in Free Agency to tie it all together. (See "Finishing Touches" to view the final roster after FA




FREE AGENCY

This is going to be an extremely important Free Agency. Last year, we pretty much blew it. Obviously hindsight is 20/20 but wouldn't it have been nice if instead of Duhon+Q-Rich we landed Tony Allen + CJ Watson? Probably never would or could have happened but we struck out last summer. Q-Rich gave some good minutes and is worth his contract but he did not make a difference in our season. Here are my lists as far as FA's go...Top 10 MLE/S&T targets, Top 5 Vet Min Bigs, Top 5 Vet Min Wings.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/stor ... ents-11-12

Target w/the MLE (or S&T)
1.Wilson Chandler - Would have to be a S&T because he will likely get a little more than the MLE. Denver would have great interest in Bass or Anderson though.
2.CJ Miles - If his option is not picked up...this is still up in the air. Would be a solid wing addition for both ends of the floor.
3.Caron Butler - I don't like the idea of getting another aging wing player. Just seems like we would get the same result.
4.JR Smith - Definitely would bring some offense but are his off court issues worth it?
5.Nick Young - Shown flashes of being a guy that can get his own shot and do it well...also good friends with Gilbert. I would imagine that Washington would match a partial MLE offer.
6.Jeff Green - Not sure what Boston's plans are for him but if he may be available via S&T.
7.Shane Battier - A vet wing defender that can knock down the 3, something we were missing this season.
8.Jason Richardson - I don't think we need him back, but at this point we would need someone at the wing.
9. Samuel Dalembert - Would give us a twin tower look but we had that once and never used it.
10.Glen Davis - If we want to trade Bass & Anderson, Davis would be a nice pick up at PF.

Vet Min Bigs
1. Kenyon Martin - Still has the toughness and rebounding ability that would help us. Would free us up to trade our PF's.
2. Jason Collins - Rattled Dwight a little in the playoffs, would be nice to have him on our sideline in spot minutes behind Dwight.
3. Jeff Foster - Proven rebounder who has a bit of a dirty side...something that this team could use.
4. Nenad Kristic - Solid big man who could play spot minutes behind Dwight.
5. Kwame Brown - A big body to take up space during Dwight's breathers.

Vet Min Wings
1. DeShawn Stevenson - Can knock down the 3 and plays very solid D. Also has toughness that we lack.
2. Tracy McGrady - Showed this season that he can contribute as a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He clearly can't score like the old T-Mac, but still would be a nice addition.
3. Tayshaun Prince - Long defender who can knock down the three.
4. Michael Redd - Who knows what you would get from him but the risk could easily be worth the reward.
5. Josh Howard - Same story. Don't know what to expect but he could be a nice defensive wing with some energy.

Denver has an insane amount on their plate this summer. Aaron Afflalo & Wilson Chandler are restricted free agents, Nene will likely explore Free Agency, JR Smith is unrestricted, as well as Kenyon Martin. On top of all of that, next summer they have Danilo Gallinari becoming a restricted free agent and Raymond Felton as an unrestricted FA. 



Their 1st focus will be Nene and getting him re-signed. He will demand a decent amount considering the lack of big name players in this years FA. You look at the talent at SG and you assume that Afflalo will be their guy at SG long term. They will likely match any offer he receives. That is something they will have the luxury of waiting around for, as well as Chandler. JR Smith is likely gone. With Chris Anderson still under contract, they will likely pass on re-signing a second PF that really shouldn't be starting and let Kenyon Martin walk. 


The big question mark will be Wilson Chandler. If they lock up Afflalo, it is unlikely that they would invest another 6 million or so on a backup SG when they need to worry about resigning their SF Gallinari the following summer.

All that being said, I see Wilson Chandler as being available but it will take a S&T to get him because he will demand a bit more than the MLE, IMO. Denver will be looking for help at PF due to K-Mart entering FA and their focus tied up with Nene & Afflalo. In general, they would be looking to get younger, not older so Bass is someone they would be interested in to replace Kenyon Martin. Not only is Bass a solid big man, but he will come off the books next year, giving them money to retain Gallinari. 



Two other holes Denver has are behind Afflalo/Gallinari and behind Nene. They lose all of their depth to FA this summer. Q-Rich is a fairly priced and able to contribute behind those two young guys and Orton gives them a big man to develop. They essentially fill 3 holes when they could lose the guy for nothing.

Orlando Trades:
Brandon Bass (4.0 Million)

Quentin Richardson (2.4 Million)
Daniel Orton (1.1 Million)
2013 First Round Pick
Outgoing: 7.5 Million

Denver Trades:
Wilson Chandler (S&T, Contract starting @ 6.5-7.5 Million)


This is a move that could be VERY beneficial to this teams growth. At the very least...he would be a GREAT piece to include in a trade deadline deal for CP3/D-Will. He could also end up being a long term part of this team starting at the wing. I see us as having multiple pieces that would have value to Denver and Wilson Chandler would be a perfect fit here. I would love to see Otis get this move done.

On the home front, there are a couple of a questions...J-Rich & Earl Clark. Everyone seems to be on board with bringing back Clark. He works hard, has potential, will come cheap, and seems to like being here. Some people like the idea of S&Ting J-Rich to Chicago for Boozer. Not many people seem to be thinking about bringing J-Rich back. As a last resort, it would be nice to have him back but I am against the idea of taking on Boozer's contract for him. 



That is just adding another bad contract to the pile we already have without really improving all that much. It will be interesting to see if there are any other teams who would be interested in a J-Rich S&T...


STOCKPILE FOR THE DEADLINE

While it may be a long shot to get a true commitment from Gilbert early enough to clear cap room, it still isn't impossible to land CP3 or D-Will. The key is to not make any hasty moves and to acquire valuable talent via FA and expiring contracts that would have value to New Orleans or New Jersey. Even if those two are not available, there is likely to be more options come the trade deadline than there will be this summer. There are always teams that disappoint and look to unload talent for relief. Guys like Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, or Danny Granger could become available if their teams don't improve or reach expectations.

The first step towards this goal is to acquire an expiring contract for the Gortat TPE. I will return to Nocioni, who would likely be the easiest and best option. He comes with a 6.7 Million Dollar expiring contract...something that would be valuable come the trade deadline in any blockbuster deal we would hope to make.

If Houston would bite on a Shard TPE + 2nd Round Pick for C-Lee deal, you take it but I am not sure you include a 1st round pick. Hard to say which would have more value at this point. If they don't bite...that TPE likely just expires with the new CBA. For the sake of continuing, we will say that Houston does not bite and the Shard TPE does expire.

When FA starts, Wilson Chandler is still priority number 1. Of all of the young FA's with talent, he is the most attainable for reasons we have already discussed.

Orlando Trades:
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Quentin Richardson (2.4)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Outgoing: 7.5 Million

Denver Trades:
Wilson Chandler (S&T, Contract starting @ 6.5-7.5 Million)
Outgoing: 7.5 Million

PG Jameer Nelson/Gilbert Arenas/Chris Duhon
SG JJ Redick/___________
SF Wilson Chandler/Hedo Turkoglu/Andres Nocioni
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/__________

Right now, you are looking at a package of Wilson Chandler+JJ Redick+Ryan Anderson+Earl Clark+Andres Nocioni for the star player we target. That is a solid group of players but you want to make sure you have enough no matter what...plus Jameer is expendable if we are hoping to land CP3 or D-Will. So you move Jameer for young talent, picks, or a good expiring contract. In this case, you go back to Andre Miller for an expiring contract and someone that can run our PG position in the meantime.

Orlando Trades:
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
Outgoing: 7.3 Million

Portland Trades:
Andre Miller (7.8)
2012 2nd Round Pick
2013 2nd Round Pick
Outgoing: 7.8 Million

Follow that up with the rest of your FA money (MLE & Vet Mins). You target guys that would also have value in a trade but fill the biggest hole with the MLE. Vet mins just to fill the rest of the holes.

PG Gilbert Arenas/Andre Miller/Chris Duhon
SG JJ Redick/JR Smith
SF Wilson Chandler/Hedo Turkoglu/Andres Nocioni
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Jason Collins

This is what Otis would enter the 2011-2012 season with. From there, he waits patiently. This team could still be successful, and it it turns out to be a good fit...no moves HAVE to be made. However, if CP3 or D-Will become available...you can't say no to the opportunity. With the talent acquired above, here are the deals that would net us those guys...



DEADLINE DEAL (CP3)

We have all been through this saga before. We know that in order to get CP3, you are going to have to take back Okafor. Not the worst or bad contracts, but a bad contract nonetheless.

Orlando Trades:
Wilson Chandler (7.5)
JJ Redick (6.5)
Ryan Anderson (2.3)
Andre Miller (7.8)
Andres Nocioni (6.8)
2012 First Round Pick (Orlando)
2012 2nd Round Pick (Orlando)
2012 2nd Round Pick (Portland)
2013 2nd Round Pick (Portland)
Outgoing: 30.9 Million

New Orleans Trades:
Chris Paul (16.4)
Emeka Okafor (12.5)
Jarrett Jack (5.2)
Outgoing: 34.3 Million

We take back Jack in addition to Okafor's contract. This could be something that helps us get over the hump in the deal. He is a contract that they would no longer want if CP3 is gone. The only players locked up for multiple years after this deal for them are JJ, Chandler, & Ariza. That is a solid wing core to build around. Anderson would be a RFA that they would likely bring back.

See "Finishing Touches" for the lineup...
_____
D-WILL AT THE DEADLINE

I think it is pretty much unanimous that people that on this board would rather see CP3 than D-Will in a Magic uniform but I don't think anyone is going to be too upset if we were "stuck" with D-Will & no CP3. New Jersey has less (or smaller) bad contracts to worry about taking in return. They would want to unload anything lasting past the 2011-2012 season to give them full flexibility.

Orlando Trades:
Wilson Chandler (7.5)
JJ Redick (6.5)
Ryan Anderson (2.3)
Earl Clark (2.5)
Andre Miller (7.8)
Andres Nocioni (6.8)
2012 First Round Pick (Orlando)
2012 2nd Round Pick (Orlando)
2012 2nd Round Pick (Portland)
2013 2nd Round Pick (Portland)
Outgoing: 33.4 Million

New Jersey Trades:
Derron Williams (16.4)
Travis Outlaw (7.0)
Anthony Morrow (4.0)
Jordan Farmar (4.0)
Johan Petro (3.3)
Outgoing: 34.7 Million

It would be nice if Morrow or Outlaw broke out like they were expected to when they signed with New Jersey, but even if they don't...you got D-Will. See "Finishing Touches" for the final roster.

NO CP3 or D-WILL AT DEADLINE

While we can all hope and pray for us to land one of these guys, the odds are still against it. I would still like to see Otis do all he can with FA and see what becomes available at the deadline, because there WILL be something worth taking a swing at. The team that I view as being ready to a huge let down is Memphis. 



They have some talent but they over achieved more than any team in NBA history. Even with Rudy Gay coming back, their lack of outside shooting will haunt them if they want to continue to try and play inside out with Zach Randolph. If this team does disappoint, I would see Randolph and Gay becoming available. If someone wanted to land one of those guys, they would likely have to take back Conley Jr due to the length of his contract (lasting through the 2015 season). 


I am still not sold on Randolph's ability to lead, pass, or win so I really am not interested in him. If the ball is going down low, I want it going to Dwight...not Randolph. Giving them depth at PF frees them up to move Randolph in a separate deal to acquire even more young talent/cap relief. They would also want help at the wing after losing Rudy Gay.

Orlando Trades:
JJ Redick (6.5)
JR Smith (5.5)
Ryan Anderson (2.3)
Earl Clark (2.5)
Andre Miller (7.8)
2012 First Round Pick (Orlando)
2012 2nd Round Pick (Orlando)
2012 2nd Round Pick (Portland)
2013 2nd Round Pick (Portland)
Outgoing: 24.6 Million

Memphis Trades:
Rudy Gay (15.0)
Mike Conley Jr. (6.5)
Outgoing: 21.5 Million

Obviously they don't do this deal right now, that is why you wait until the deadline. If they have no shot at making a playoff run in the competitive west, they will be looking to dump salary. See "Finishing Touches"

J-RICH S&T (BOOZER)

While this is not something that I think is likely to happen...you have to explore all of the possibilities. This isn't something Otis can just decide to do, Jason Richardson has to want to go to the final destination. At this point in his career, you have to assume that he wants to win. He is still good enough to play an important role on a contender, so playing time would not be much of an issue as long as he fit. So where would Jason Richardson end up? We all know one of the rumored destinations could be Chicago...

Chicago Bulls (High Interest): J-Rich Signs Off
New Jersey Nets(High Interest): Doubt J-Rich would want to go
New Orleans Hornets(High Interest): I'd say 50/50
New York Knicks (High Interest): J-Rich Signs Off
Atlanta Hawks (Moderate Interest): I'd say 50/50
Portland Trailblazers (Moderate Interest): I'd say 50/50
Boston Celtics (Moderate Interest): J-Rich Signs Off
Dallas Mavericks (Moderate Interest): J-Rich Signs Off
Memphis Grizzlies (Moderate Interest): I'd say 50/50
LA Lakers (Low-Moderate Interest): J-Rich Signs Off

Just because it is a popular topic, I will start off with the Carlos Boozer idea with Chicago...even though I hate it. People need to realize that it would be a lot more complex than just a J-Rich S&T for Boozer. First of all...we have to talk about Boozer's contract vs. his production. Boozer is on the books for four more years, no options. He will be making 13.5 Million in 2011-2012 and that will increase up to 16.8 in 2014-2015. Again...no options. He AVERAGES 19 DNP's PER YEAR over the course of a 9 year career. He will be 30 years old in November. 



He is known to be a terrible teammate and the type of person who puts themselves ahead of the team. Is that someone you really want to bring on? I know we need to improve, but there are other options. There is a reason Chicago is looking to unload him after just one season. They realize they made a mistake.

As far as the trade itself goes, the 13.5 Million Boozer makes is not going to be covered by just Bass & Richardson as the rumor goes. That would mean that Jason Richardson's new contract would START at around 8 Mill/Per. That is just not going to happen for a guy who is over 30 & who's game relies on athleticism. As we saw, he isn't much more than a 3pt threat at this point and is not going to get a deal starting at 8 million from anyone. A more realistic number would be 5.5 million, especially with the new CBA. This would mean that we would have to include more to make the salaries match.

Then if you look at the contracts, there really isn't much that fits all that well. Chicago would have to take on Q-Rich & Orton as well. That is one of the only favorable routes for us where we don't give up anything more of value. Chicago could throw in something else in exchange for JJ instead...but do we want to give up JJ in this deal? I sure as hell don't. The best we would get in return is Ronnie Brewer or CJ Watson. Here are a couple different break downs...

Orlando Trades:
Jason Richardson (S&T, Contract starting @ 5.5 Million)
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Quentin Richardson (2.5)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Outgoing: 13.1 Million

Chicago Trades:
Carlos Boozer (13.5)
Outgoing: 13.5 Million

or

Orlando Trades:
Jason Richardson (S&T, Contract starting @ 5.5 Million)
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Chris Duhon (3.5)
Outgoing: 13.0 Million

Chicago Trades:
Carlos Boozer (13.5)
Outgoing: 13.5 Million

PG Jameer Nelson/Gilbert Arenas
SG JJ Redick/Quentin Richarson
SF Hedo Turkoglu/___________
PF Carlos Boozer/Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace/Daniel Orton

Personally, not my cup of tea but I suppose it is better than what we had last season...at least to start with this off season. There is still room to make a move. Jameer & JJ good assets, as well as either Anderson or Clark. In all of these scenarios, I see Clark coming back for around 2-2.5 Million. With those pieces, you would look to target an offensive minded SG/SF. I still love the idea of going hard after Wilson Chandler. With this lineup, he would be a nice fit...as with any other roster we put together in my mind.

Orlando Trades:
Ryan Anderson (2.3)
Quentin Richarson (2.5)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Outgoing: 5.9 Million

Denver Trades:
Wilson Chandler (S&T, Contract starting @ 6.5-7.3 Million)

PG Jameer Nelson/Gilbert Arenas
SG Wilson Chandler/JJ Redick
SF Hedo Turkoglu/___________
PF Carlos Boozer/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/___________

While at this point keeping Jameer seems like a good option, I still think that he needs to go in order to give Gilbert Arenas a chance to have success. They key is finding a veteran PG who can be a polar opposite of Gilbert Arenas. Luckily, there is actually a very solid option.

Orlando Trades:
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
Outgoing: 7.3 Million

Portland Trades:
Andre Miller (7.8)
2012 2nd Round Pick
2013 2nd Round Pick

PG Gilbert Arenas/Andre Miller
SG Wilson Chandler/JJ Redick
SF Hedo Turkoglu/___________
PF Carlos Boozer/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/___________

That is a pretty solid lineup for Otis to build around via FA. (See "Finishing Touches"...yet again.



J-RICH S&T (ODOM)

This is one that I am just throwing out there...there haven't been any kind of rumors but I think it would benefit both teams. LA is need of a PG and we are shopping Jameer. LA could use some depth at SG with Kobe Bryant aging. Why not take a stab at getting Lamar Odom? He isn't young anymore but he is still a solid play-maker on both ends of the floor.

Orlando Trades:
Jameer Nelson (7.3)
Jason Richardson (S&T, Contract starting @ 5.5/Yr)
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Outgoing: 17.9 Million

LA Lakers Trade:
Lamar Odom (8.9)
Luke Walton (5.7)
Steve Blake (4.0)
Outgoing: 18.6 Million

PG Gilbert Arenas/Steve Blake/Chris Duhon
SG JJ Redick/__________
SF Hedo Turkoglu/Quentin Richardson
PF Lamar Odom/Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Anderson Varejao/Ben Wallace

This leaves us with the ability to go after another player via trade with JJ/Anderson/Clark/Orton. We can go back to someone we already spoke about, Stephen Jackson.

Orlando Trades:
JJ Redick (6.5)
Ryan Anderson (2.3)
Outgoing: 8.8 Million

Charlotte Trades:
Stephen Jackson (9.6)
Outgoing: 9.6 Million

PG Gilbert Arenas/Steve Blake/Chris Duhon
SG __________/Quentin Richardson
SF Stephen Jackson/Hedo Turkoglu
PF Lamar Odom/Anderson Varejao/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace

Ride that squad in to Free Agency to add a wing and that is a team I would have a lot of faith in to do well come playoff time. (See "Finishing Touches" for completed roster.)



TRADING DWIGHT

The sections that no one wants to read/see. The reality is that Otis needs to protect this franchise, regardless of what Dwight decides to do. Even with a signed extension, it still may be in this franchise's best interest to trade Dwight. If Dwight extends are there are no deals to be made in order to improve around Dwight...what reason is there to have him? We aren't going to win with the quality of roster we have now and a couple FA additions aren't going to put us over the top. So if there is no way to via trade with what we have...you shop Dwight. Now this doesn't mean you pull the trigger no matter what...but you have to shop around and see what could get done.

If it came to this, Otis would be looking to unload Hedo &/or Arenas as well. If he could find a taker for one of the bad contracts, he could let the other go via the amnesty clause. Clearly Hedo is the more movable contract of the two. So you have to look around to see who could offer a solid package while taking back at least one of the contracts. There are plenty of teams who can offer to take back Arenas/Turk but do they have something to offer that would help us rebuild? Someone like Atlanta has solid players, a high payroll, and would fit as a trade partner in the sense that the contracts would work...but we would be getting guys back like Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams or others. Those aren't guys that are going to help us rebuild and they wouldn't have all that much value if we tried to flip them. It is all about finding that right balance...

Denver could be an interesting partner. It would take multiple players to be re-signed by Denver and then sent here in exchange for Dwight, but the talent level would be solid. Players like Aaron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Nene, Danilo Gallanari, and Timofey Mozgov could be a part of the deal...giving us young talent and plenty of it. The likelihood of Afflalo, Chandler, and Nene all being willing to re-sign and then be sent to Orlando are a long shot though.

The Lakers are a more realistic option in the sense that they are able to absorb a lot of money in exchange for proven players. While the players they would send our way (Odom, Artest, Gasol, Bynum) don't have a huge value to a rebuilding team...they would have value to other contenders that we could flip them to. This would take a lot of work ahead of time because you don't pull the trigger hoping to flip guys, you need to have those deals already in place.

The best option would be Oklahoma City. Here would by my plan to completely rebuild...

Orlando Trades:
Dwight Howard: 17.9 Mill
Hedo Turkoglu: 10.6 Mill
Outgoing Salary: 28.5 Million

Oklahoma City Trades:
Russell Westrbook: 12 Mill (Contract Extension)
James Harden: 4.6 Mill
Serge Ibaka: 1.3 Mill
Nate Robinson: 4.5 Mill
Daequan Cook: 3.1
Cole Aldrich: 2.3
Outgoing Salaries: 27.8 Million

paired with...
Orlando Trades:
Brandon Bass (4.0)
Quentin Richardson (2.4)
Daniel Orton (1.1)
Outgoing: 7.5 Million

Denver Trades:
Wilson Chandler (S&T, Contract starting @ 6.5-7.5 Million)
Outgoing: 7.5 Million

PG Russell Westbrook/Jameer Nelson/Nate Robinson
SG James Harden/JJ Redick/JR Smith/Daequan Cook
SF Wilson Chandler/____________
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Serge Ibaka/Cole Aldrich

Your starting lineup is set. That is a very nice young group of players that can be in Orlando for a long time. You still have pieces like Jameer & JJ that could be moved for more young talent or picks.

Orlando Trades:
JJ Redick (6.5)

Washington Trades:
Mike Bibby's Contract (6.2) Expiring
2012 First Round Pick

+

Orlando Trades
Jameer Nelson (7.3)

Portland Trades
Andre Miller (7.8) Expiring
2012 2nd Round Pick
2013 2nd Round Pick

PG Russell Westbrook/Andre Miller/Nate Robinson
SG James Harden/JR Smith/Daequan Cook
SF Wilson Chandler/____________
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Serge Ibaka/Cole Aldrich

Westbrook could use a veteran PG behind him and Andre Miller is a very nice one to have. It would be great for Westbrook's growth as a professional, even more than as a player. All you need is a vet wing to fill the hole and that is a team ready to grow from within and still capable of making a run in the playoffs.

You can say that OKC wouldn't do this because it guts their core. But if you put yourself in the shoes of the OKC GM... you are presented with the opportunity to pair the top scorer in the NBA, two years running, with the top defensive player in the NBA, three years running. 



Both of those players are just now entering their prime. Between Dwight Howard+Kendrick Perkins+Nick Collison, it would be the best defensive front line in the NBA...BY FAR. You still have Maynor running the point and Durant+Turkoglu at the wings. You lose your young talent but your core is still young and is much more capable of creating a dynasty. If you are OKC's GM, you can't turn down Dwight. See "Finishing Touches"

FINISHING TOUCHES

Now that we have looked over the potential additions via FA, it is time to fill in the holes of the deals we have already discussed. The additions at this point would strictly be players for the minimum.

Clearing Cap for CP3/D-Will
2011-2012 Roster (1 & Done Expirings)
PG Andre Miller/Gilbert Arenas
SG JR Smith/Rudy Fernandez/Elliot Williams (Bought Out)
SF Tracy McGrady/DeShawn Stevenson/Luke Babbitt
PF Ryan Anderson/Kenyon Martin
C Dwight Howard/Marcus Camby/Daniel Orton
then....
2012-2013 Roster
PG Chris Paul/Gilbert Arenas
SG JR Smith/Keith Bogans/(2012 Draft Pick)
SF Andres Nocioni/Carlos Delfino
PF Ryan Anderson/Antawn Jamison
C Dwight Howard/Marcus Camby

Anything it takes to get CP3 here. Like I have said 1,000 times, it all depends on Gilbert Arenas and his relationship with Otis. If this did go down, it would be an interesting one year run that would still give us a shot and then a summer of anticipation while we attempt to land one of the big 2 PG's.

Iggy/Brand Deal-
PG Gilbert Arenas/Mike Bibby/Chris Duhon
SG JR Smith/Courtney Lee/Quinten Richardson
SF Andre Iguodala/Tracy McGrady/Andres Nocioni
PF Elton Brand/Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Jason Collins
or
PG Gilbert Arenas/Mike Bibby/Chris Duhon
SG JR Smith/DeShawn Stevenson/Quinten Richardson
SF Andre Iguodala/Tracy McGrady/Andres Nocioni
PF Elton Brand/Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace

Both are rosters that could definitely get the job done. Iguodala & T-Mac help make up for any lack of ball movement that Gilbert may cause. You have a ton of wing defense. Great rebounding. All around good squad that could compete for a title next year. In addition, if it does not work out, you are able to start from scratch a couple summers down the road before Dwight would become an unrestricted FA. You go with JR Smith for the MLE in any instance and likely buy out Nocioni if all those vets do sign.

S-Jax & Smoove Deals-
PG Gilbert Arenas/Mike Bibby/Chris Duhon
SG JR Smith/Quinten Richardson
SF Stephen Jackson/Hedo Turkoglu
PF Josh Smith/Anderson Varejao/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace

With that lineup, Otis would go hard after some additional scoring in the starting lineup. JR Smith would be a nice addition. Go for some additional depth at the wing with Stevenson for defense. While the personalities are all big, it is a very talented roster.

Monta Eliis & OJ Mayo Deals-
PG Monta Ellis/Gilbert Arenas/Chris Duhon
SG JR Smith/OJ Mayo
SF Hedo Turkoglu/Tracy McGrady/Quentin Richardson
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Andris Biedrins/Ben Wallace

The final product isn't the greatest I've come up with but it would still be a very solid improvement. It would be interesting to see how all of the pieces came together. That could be a very fun bench squad to watch play if they could all stay on the floor.

CP3 Deadline Deal-
PG Chris Paul/Jarrett Jack/Chris Duhon
SG JR Smith/Gilbert Arenas
SF Hedo Turkoglu/____________
PF Earl Clark/___________
C Dwight Howard/Jason Collins

It is impossible to tell what vets would be available mid way through the season but there always tends to be players that get bought out or one or two decent guys that are semi-retired. Hopefully that would be the case...but even if it wasn't, who cares. We "got" Chris Paul.

D-Will Deadline Deal-
PG Derron Williams/Jordan Farmar/Chris Duhon
SG JR Smith/Gilbert Arenas/Anthony Morrow
SF Hedo Turkoglu/Travis Outlaw
PF ____________/___________
C Dwight Howard/Jason Collins/Johan Petro

Again, it is impossible to say who will be available to fill in at PF but hopefully there would be someone decent, otherwise the rest of the season would be interested. Either way, you set yourself up for the future with Dwight & an elite PG.

Gay At the Deadline Deal-
PG Gilbert Arenas/Mike Conley Jr./Chris Duhon
SG Rudy Gay/Andres Nocioni
SF Wilson Chandler/Hedo Turkoglu
PF ____________/______________
C Dwight Howard/Jason Collins

Yet again...the hole at PF but with the play we now have at the wing, that is fine with me. Gay & Chandler at the wing would be a dream come true for Dwight and would be fun to watch.

J-Rich/Boozer S&T Deal-
PG Gilbert Arenas/Andre Miller
SG JJ Redick/JR Smith/DeShawn Stevenson
SF Wilson Chandler/Tracy McGrady
PF Carlos Boozer/Anderson Varejao/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace

I would be OK with a Boozer addition in this instance. Wilson Chandler ties it together for me and JR Smith coming off of the bench gives you some added offense. Ben Wallace & Anderson Varejao come over via the Shard & Gortat TPE's as in other scenarios.

J-Rich/Odom S&T + S-Jax Deals-
PG Gilbert Arenas/Steve Blake/Chris Duhon
SG JR Smith/Quentin Richardson
SF Stephen Jackson/Hedo Turkoglu
PF Lamar Odom/Anderson Varejao/Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard/Ben Wallace

This is one I really like. It would clearly depend on LA wanted to try something different but it is a deal that would help them in areas they are weak. This is a team I would love to see Otis pull off.

Dwight to OKC Deal-
PG Russell Westbrook/Andre Miller/Nate Robinson
SG James Harden/JR Smith/Daequan Cook
SF Wilson Chandler/Tracy McGrady
PF Ryan Anderson/Earl Clark
C Serge Ibaka/Jason Collins/Cole Aldrich

Because of the lack of size down low, you likely buy out Daequan Cook and sign another vet big. After that, you are ready to go. T-Mac helps spread the ball around as a solid vet addition. You picked up Washington's 2012 first round pick...one that could end up being extremely valuable in what looks to be a strong draft. You have plenty of cap room to extend or resign any players as well.

CLOSING

There are several reasons why I decided to make this insanely long, detailed thread...a lot of down time at work, the desire to fully explore what our options might be, and to make the details of these deals available to all of the other posters so that they can see what we are really dealing with. Moves are made to seem a lot more simple when they are just thrown out by naming names. When you add in the salaries and how it would affect every team involved, it makes a big difference.

Regardless of what route Otis Smith ends up taking, there are options. As I stated, Free Agency is key....and I think the guy we absolutely need to focus on landing is Wilson Chandler. Regardless of whether or not we make a big trade, wait till the deadline, or rebuild all together...Wilson Chandler could play a large role in any scenario. Also, by performing a S&T for him, it allows us to still add using the MLE. 



The two players likely to leave Denver are Chandler & Smith. Between a S&T and the MLE, it is realistic to think that we could land both. That solves our wing situation right there. So even if a big deal is not available, we are in solid shape going in to the next season and waiting to see if something better presents itself.

It is fair to say that one move is not going to get the job done. Otis has his work cut out for him if he wants to build around Dwight. The good news is that there are some options and hopefully he can pull them off.

If you read all of this...God bless you.