Friday, June 1, 2012

24 Magic Offseason Wishes for 24 Years of Existence

One great thing about having a blog that I personally enjoy probably the most is that I can express my own opinions without pissing off an editor or media outlet. Professional journalists are those that (unless fully expressed and disclosed) hide emotional and personal biases from their writing and reporting. I'm not seeing much of that lately. Screamin' A. Smith is still adamant on Dwight becoming a Net. So was Chris Broussard. But Broussard has quietly stepped off that pedestal, which is why he focused on that absurdly false Shaq-Magic GM rumor. Chris Sheridan is trying his damnedest to get more people to visit his website. That includes conjuring enough bullshit that's starting to stick and smell enough that's allowing Sheridan to give bogus interviews now.  

I recently celebrated my 24th birthday. Best birthday I ever had was my 21st, the night we beat Cleveland to advance to the '09 NBA Finals. Oh how much has changed in 3 years. Stan Van Gundy was wrongfully fired as I unfortunately believed he would be. I really hope Alex Martins didn't fire SVG over the phone. He knows better. Otis was canned, but it was kindly spun into a more positive light for Otis as he allegedly fell on his sword for Stan. I wish both the best of luck. Enjoy your families and I'm sure superb future employment opportunities will await. Dwight has spent enough time in L.A. rehabbing that I won't be surprised if he becomes a permanent resident. But, he won and now he needs to man the fuck up and get back to Orlando with a doctor's note of approval. With so much doubt about the framework of this Magic franchise, a list of 24 requests doesn't seem that vast in the grand scheme of things. No predictions, just stuff I want to see happen in these next 4 months or so of the offseason.

1. Hire David Morway

Lost in the shadow of Larry Bird is a General Manager who since May of 2009 has assisted Larry Legend in building the Pacers into a growing power. Morway and Bird both had to soften the blow of losing Donnie Walsh (who is also a Magic GM potential choice). If he's a legitimate candidate, David Morway should be at the top of Alex Martins' and Dan DeVos' GM list. Other than waiving Travis Diener, Morway has helped made solid move after solid move whether it be draft picks, free agent signings, or trades. I don't know how loyal Morway is to the Pacers franchise or the state of Indiana, but he could be the main Pacers' front office man should Larry Bird choose to step down. If money can sway him as it would the majority of people, then the RDV family need to get David to migrate south and hand over the reins to him. Yes I know Kevin Pritchard would be the sexier pick, but sexy selections are not always the best. Morway's worth the risk of seeing if he can cut it on his own without a safety net. A front office man from OKC or San Antonio works too as a backup if Morway isn't available. Crossing my fingers we don't choose Jeff Bower.

2. Hire Nate McMillan

If the goal here is to bring a Head Coach that Dwight will like, Nate's at the top of the totem pole in Superman's eyes. There's their Team USA bonding the two have supposedly done. Also, Nate is the closest candidate to Doc Rivers as far as being a 'players' coach' goes. Not to say that I would break my personal belongings if Brian Shaw or Michael Malone were hired, but McMillan has the playing and head coaching background. Again, very similar to the Doc Rivers mold the Magic front office is showing. If Morway gets hired, we'll know immediately how he views B-Shaw as a head coaching candidate.

3. Don't Retain Patrick Ewing

Oh how I yearn for the Clifford Ray days. I pray that Ewing finds employment on another NBA team. The Bobcats not biting on Ewing isn't a good sign of him getting a head coaching gig this offseason. Why keep a big man coach who doesn't appear to do much coaching? Dwight stopped listening to Ewing 6 months after being hired. Howard has his own coaches and trainers. Heck, Dwight even preferred going to Hakeem Olajuwon for advice and post moves. Ewing never could convince Dwight to have any trust in free throw shooting or jump shot strokes. Patrick has never provided advancement for our other big men in 5 seasons and I never understood why Stan Van Gundy protected him so much. He did have that famous playoff win guarantee in Boston.

4. Sign a Contract Extension Pronto, Dwight

The main 'culprits' to Dwight Howard's 'suffering' are gone. No more SVG and no more Otis. Alex Martins and the DeVos family have bent over backwards to appease you, Dwight. Yet Dwight's still hesitant? There's no one left to stop Howard from making the team the way Dwight wants it to be. Of course fans are mad at you. That comes with the territory of asking the best coach in Magic history to be fired. We're going to be disappointed in you still being linked (false rumors or not) to other teams. No matter what you hear or read, D12 will have a say in plenty of decisions this summer. Dwight won't even have to open his mouth, just give facial expressions and signals. Do a Barkley impression for 'yes' and an SVG impression for 'no'. To warrant all of this Dwight-centric activity, Howard needs to commit himself to The City Beautiful for multiple years. Your image in this country and worldwide is deteriorating every hour. One way or another, do what Fran Vazquez hasn't been able to do in his entire life and sack up. If Dwight isn't here long term, then firing Stan Van Gundy was the dumbest move since Billy Donovan was hired.

5. If Dwight Gets Dealt, 2 Bad Contracts Must Leave With Him

Hey world, you want to pry Dwight from Orlando? Then be prepared to take two of Chris Duhon, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jason Richardson off our hands. Start working those 3 and 4-team deals on your trade machines. If Dwight's rumored cold feet and second thoughts are in fact true and he requests getting dealt out of here, then hopefully it happens before July. If he pulls a Shaq and bolts during a Team USA Olympic run, we'll be physically ill for the whole London Olympics. Also, the earlier ties are severed the better it is in reestablishing team chemistry and team system tactics. A decent center and solid point guard are paramount pieces that would absolutely need to be in Magic jerseys for a Dwight deal to occur. The Houston Rockets are starting to rear their heads into this Dwight saga and have quite a few intriguing pieces.

6. Hope Chris Duhon Does Something Stupid

Nope, verbal fights on Twitter won't cut it. Not if you want his contract null and void. Plus, tweeting a man that's probably drunk at that time of night just isn't much of a challenge. It might take blackmail because God knows we're not waiving him, and I doubt ANY other NBA team would want DuDu anywhere near their roster. Someone prove me wrong.

7. Guarantee J.J. Redick's Deal

No more unguaranteed contract crap. He had a meh postseason in 2011, but 2012 Redickulous showed he can lead by example on the court. No one would have any quarrels with Redick being extended at this point either. He's a fighter and deserves to be a captain next season. And no, it won't be a seniority thing either. It's amazing how Redick went from a major prick to damn near folk hero in his NBA career. J.J. still has a lot of room for improvement, and everyone in Orlando wants to see him continue to progress. Also, if Dwight does wear another jersey in the Fall, J.J. immediately becomes the most popular Magic man in Orlando. It'd be a marketing catastrophe to dump a good contract and great player. Plus, Redick can't scream any louder how bad he wants to remain in Orlando.

8. Offer Jameer Nelson No More Than $5 Million Per Season

Mighty Mite has been beyond loyal to this Magic franchise, more than it and the fan base has to him countless times. The spirit and professionalism has always been there, but Nelson's body just can't take the rigors of the NBA starting point guard job. It's a shame Jameer never could get back to All-Star form. It's an even worse thought to fathom that your average fairweather fan will remember 'Meer as the '09 Finals scapegoat. Jameer will find that last decent multi-year deal, but it shouldn't and won't be here. Mighty Mite will sacrifice money if he can find a decent four 5-year contract. He's no where near an $8 million man anymore.

9. Offer Ryan Anderson No More Than $8 Million Per Season

That's two excruciatingly bad playoff series in a row for a man that is supposed to be a foundation for this team. I want to keep Snoggle around, but I get the feeling one team will be brash enough to shell out 8 figures per season for a good 5 years. No way we'd match that type of offer in this rebuilding situation that needs to cut salary and fast. Ryno flourished in Stan's system. Superb regular season player. Under new coaching though it's tough to say how successful Ryno will be. We can do a lot worse than Glen Davis, Earl Clark, and Justin Harper as your power forwards going into training camp. Big Baby's courageous Pacers series cemented himself as a mainstay in a Magic team that needs him with Dwight still in town.

10. Re-Sign Earl Clark

He's young enough to where he can still be molded into what the new coach will want out of Earl as a forward. Some more work on that jump shot and bit of ball handling this summer, and Clark will be more than just an athletic body who can occasionally lock an opponent down. Earl had a rough Lockout season. A full training camp will do Clark some good. Hopefully no one else is willing to shell out more than a few million.

11. Let DeAndre Liggins Play

I'm not talking about just Summer League or preseason either. Give him a chance in training camp to earn meaningful minutes. This was Stan's weakness for the most part. Unless injury played a role, SVG had a bad habit of trusting crusty veterans more than fresh rookies. Odds are the new coach will be more open and appreciative of Liggins' potential. At worse, he's a better version of Keith Bogans. There really isn't a ceiling on what DeAndre can do if he can remain healthy and develop his offensive arsenal.

12. Re-Sign Ish Smith

He'll either be the backup PG or the best 3rd point guard in the NBA. I highly doubt any team will throw money at Ish that's bigger than the minimum. Not unless he goes and seeks international options. The minimum should be sufficient enough to maintain his services. He'd be the perfect spark plug for the new coach to utilize.

13. Fran Vazquez Closure

The Spaniard that has become a curse word to Magic fans just turned 29 years old. Supposedly he wanted to come over last year, but the Lockout derailed that idea. Which is why he only remained with Barcelona an extra year. This is it. Do or die. Depending on what happens with Dwight and Ryno, Fran actually could have an outside shot at starting. I've thought of late that at worst Fran is Tiago Splitter with infinite better defense and a worse offensive arsenal. Orlando can badly use his services with or without Dwight.

14. Draft Players You Actually Interview and Bring in for Workouts

Which is something Otis apparently rarely did. Inexcusable. Dave Twardzik (see Fran Vazquez) has been and will be worse if he's somehow still in charge of team decisions come NBA Draft time. June 28th isn't that far away. We've had maybe 3 great NBA Drafts since 1993. 2004 being the last. That's atrocious on so many levels. It hasn't been that good since '04 aside from maybe J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee. We need either new scouts, or for our scouts to actually be put to good use.

15. Draft a Point Guard at #19

Barring a number of trades and signings that provide us with 2 good to great point guards, the floor general position will need some young and athletic blood infused into it. Jameer is probably out of here. God knows we can't rely on Chris Duhon. I hope we keep Ish. Even with Smith, it'd be great if we found a stud at #19 to handle the ball the rest of this decade. First mock draft is out, and it'll drastically change in the coming weeks. Kendall Marshall would be a no-brainer selection, but not a chance in hell he falls out of the Lottery. Marquis Teague is my dream selection, but I'd be pleasantly surprised if he fell into our hands. Please no 'combo guards'. Reece Gaines and The Sassinator still haunt me in my sleep.

16. Draft Kostas Papanikolaou at #49

Oh great, the Greek dude comes up with another Greek guy I have no....OH MY GOD! He's athletic, can shoot in the clutch, and is versatile? That doesn't sound like a Euro-Stiff. He wants to be drafted. Will Olympiakos' owners pay him handsomely to stick around after a beyond epic Euroleague championship run? Probably. Papanikolaou after all had a perfect Final Four when it came to field goals. Is the 21-year-old different from past Greek prospects who chose to remain in Europe and get paid better there? Maybe. Then again, most of those Greek prospects never won Euroleague and Greek championships at such a young age. However, Greece and its athletic leagues are still crumbling and some U.S. fresh air while living out an NBA dream isn't the worst thing in the world. Honestly, I think another franchise will snap him up before pick #49. He's a low risk, Manu Ginobili-like possible return. But again, our new GM and scouts will have to communicate with the kid first. Don't make a blind move.

17. Sign a Center

Here's the free agency list. It's not pretty. Ideal choice is a backup big who has the guts and fearlessness to start when given the chance. Will it be Daniel Orton? Probably not. Otis declining his player option though isn't the end of young Daniel's NBA center hopes. Maybe the new GM will keep him around.. Youth is definitely on Orton's side, that's for sure. Now let's find some untapped potential. Also surgically replacing Daniel's hands would help.

18. Bring Back Dante & Galante for Orlando Summer League Broadcasts

Why this was discontinued a few years ago I still can't understand it. I never want to hear Rick Kamla call a game. Ever. If the public is going to be closed off from these July exhibitions, then let Dante Marchitelli and George Galante entertain us with their wit and disregard of ugly basketball.

19. Get Hotter Cheerleaders

Not kidding, there's a correlation. 2009 was the peak for the basketball team and dance squad. '10 was a slight drop off. '11 began the decline. This season the wheels came off. This batch of girls is subpar by NBA dancer standards. If we're going to suck for a year or two, then straight males and lesbians should be allowed to shield their eyes from game action by looking at something much more attractive. This isn't a talent for looks trade-off either, our dancers' choreography during timeouts and halftimes is abhorrent at times. Also, the 'dunking dancers' aspect of the squad is laughable. Our decrepit 'Silver Stars' old timers put on an infinitely better show.

20. Take Ping's Magic Media Credentials Away

This is a given, as the world would be much better off without David Pingalore and his flip-flops making our already weak Orlando sports journalism unbearable. I'm also baffled at how Daralene Jones didn't get fired for her epic BVW 'drunk phone call transcript' fail.

21. More Giveaways & Extra Loyalty Perks

Season ticket holders that continue to renew, Magic fans that hit up a dozen games a season, as well as newcomers paying outrageous 41-game Amway Center prices, need to start being rewarded for their loyalty like they used to during the Amway Arena/TD WaterHouse Centre/O-Rena days. A new stadium can only take you so far if the product starts rapidly dropping in quality. Predictability when the franchise changed addresses, marketing cut back on the free stuff. It works with a winning side, but now Amway Center will need some gimmicks to continue selling out Magic games. Give out some more yard signs and car magnets. Rally towels and a bobblehead night or two won't kill you.

22. Give Fans More Player-Team Access

Obviously there are always security concerns, but open up an occasional practice. Give us more media access to the individuals Orlando wants to love. Have a few Open House-type and autograph session events that are not just limited to a few thousand folks. The ever expanding social media universe makes it easier than ever to access players. Twitter isn't enough. Fans always have questions and comments they yearn to ask and express. Live chats, podcasts, and Skype-like technology can be put to sufficient use. Get these guys to do more radio and television interviews that don't center around Dwight Howard. The franchise already does so much to help the community, but casuals folks don't know the majority of the players. Change that and your fan base strengthens immensely. Fans need to know that the Orlando Magic are not just about one player.

23. Maintain Same Training Staff

We still had injury issues, but it's great to see Keon Weise appears semi-competent after concluding this season. Joe Rogowski hopefully won't get snatched up.

24. Find a Legitimate Free Throw Shooting Coach

When Jason Richardson shoots free throws worse than any other shooting guard in basketball that signifies a massive problem. It's not just Dwight. Almost every Magic man looks uncomfortable shooting free throws. Not even Mark Price could save us in fixing that problem. I'm sure I'm missing more things to bitch and gripe about, and feel free to add your own and clash against my opinion.