Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Charlotte Bobcats Memories - Photo Album Edition

Charlotte hoops fans can stop booing and start cheering! Their NBA franchise has been given David Stern's blessing to switch from 'Bobcats' to 'Hornets'. As it should be as they go from a name with failure attached to it, back to a historically respected one. Even though the shifting of names, logos, and colors can't be completed until after this upcoming 2013-2014 season, I couldn't wait a year to wish farewell to the mess that was (and still is) the 'Bobcats'. Particularly when the Magic swept Charlotte out of the 1st Round of the 2009-2010 playoffs. It's the only time the 'Bobcats' have made the postseason. By signing Al Jefferson and drafting Cody Zeller, Michael Jordan is giving off signals of trying to reach the playoffs. But who are we kidding, even with Steve Clifford and Patrick Ewing as coaches now, that franchise will find a way to fail this season. So enjoy my favorite images from that glorious dismantling of Charlotte back in 2010, including Tyrus Thomas pretending to have gotten shot:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Vote for Your '13-'14 Magic Dance Squad

Okay folks, you can't complain about the 'quality' of our franchise's dance team if you don't vote. You have until Thursday night to pick your favorite 20 ladies out of an audition pool of thirty. The basketball team is in rebuilding mode, and you could still say the same thing for the ladies as we're looking at a lot of new faces. 

Thanks to Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, on Thursday night from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the public can be at the Disney Atrium inside Amway Center live and in person for free where they can see the dancers perform their routines in front of a panel of judges. Magic big man Glen Davis will be one of the judges. If you don't want to head to the arena, there will be a live stream of the event on in case you don't want to be subjected to too much Scotty B. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's Summer League Time, Orlando

I'm still mourning the loss of Matthew Dellavedova from the Magic's Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League roster to those dastardly Cavaliers. 18 players have been invited to play under Magic Assistant Coach James Borrego. Remember, last year Mark Price was given that responsibility before being let go. Familiar faces to this roster include: Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, Romero Osby, DeQuan Jones, and Doron Lamb. I can't recall a past Magic team that had so many players on their roster from the previous season participate in this summer exhibition camp of sorts. Coach Jacque Vaughn wants his young guys to grow and clearly this organization values as much on-court action as possible. 

Below is the schedule for the upcoming week as all 10 teams in Orlando will play five games over a 6-day period:

So let's take a brief peak at the unknown players that will be representing this Magic franchise on its Amway Center practice floor.

#40 Jared Berggren 6'11" 240 pounds Center Wisconsin

It's REALLY tough to not call him a potential Ryan Anderson. Jared is Twitter certified so he can't be all that bad. Berggren's claim to fame might indeed be posterizing Victor Oladipo. Oh my. Let's see if 'Dipo returns the favor during practices. Seriously though, Jared was a senior with the (Honey) Badgers and he was a respectable defender in the Big Ten. Something that frankly we don't expect from a lanky spot-up shooter. If his footwork holds up against the quicker speeds of professional ball, he might have a chance to impress. Drilling 3-pointers couldn't hurt either. That's all Brian Cook could sort of do and he lasted a long time in the league.

#8 Keith Clanton 6'9" 250 pounds Forward UCF

I'd be flat out lying to you if I wasn't cheering on a fellow Knight to have a great showing. Do I think he'll play well in Summer League? On offense, yes. Not so much defensively even though statistically he can't be worse than Andrew Nicholson. Is he suitable for a full-time NBA roster spot? Well...Keith will have to convince me and fancy socks are not going to be sufficient enough. If Clanton defies the odds and performs satisfactory, he becomes a cheaper replacement to Nicholson and Orlando can sweat less about dealing the Canadian. It's all about Keith's will and assertiveness. Tweet Clanton if you have any Spanish food cravings.

#13 Glen Dandridge 6'6" 220 pounds Guard/Forward Lambuth

Can't be found on DraftExpress and spam bots have more Twitter followers than him. Played in Europe last season for Spirou-Belgium. However, there's a level of salvation because he RUNS HIS OWN YOUTUBE PAGE! Glen Davis may feel threatened with another guy with his name on the roster. Dandridge definitely liked showing off his NBA 3-point range. He's a definite outsider though.

#7 Matt Gatens 6'5" 210 pounds Guard Iowa

Another visitor from Europe, this one from Spain. And not a good Spanish team for that matter. Hennigan trusting the international scouting department a lot with some of these selections. Matt was quite the sharpshooter as a member of the Hawkeyes. Clever jersey number choice. Maybe we're seeking a J.J. Redick replacement? I guess Gatens was seeking honeymoon advice. Gatens was on the Phoenix Suns' Las Vegas Summer League squad last year and averaged 6.3 points per game for them in 3 contests.

#31 Shane Lawal 6'10" 230 pounds Center Wayne State

Lawal is coming from Italy as Hennigan is intriguing us (okay, only myself) with all of these guys who have spent time in Europe. Shane has been out of college for 5 years, but I'm curious about Shane simply because he resembles DeAndre Jordan a lot.

#23 Rodney McGruder 6'4" 205 pounds Guard Kansas State

Probably my early 'favorite' as a guy who is most likely (aside from the 8 guys I posted at the top of this piece) to receive a training camp invite. Rodney was legitimately excited about getting his invite to Orlando. McGruder kind of reminds me of Ben McLemore and I bet that just pissed off a plethora of Jayhawks fans. However, it's probably why Rob extended McGruder the invite. I can see other NBA franchises pouncing on this senior from Kansas State.

#6 Ramone Moore 6'5" 190 pounds Guard Temple

Maybe this was Jameer's pick. He's definitely got the Philly pride quotient down. Moore has the appearance of a career journeyman as he's already had stops in the D-League and Europe.

#50 Andrae Nelson 6'6" 230 pounds Forward Morehouse

No witty comments for this guy, I just hope that the video posted is of the correct Andrae Nelson. If basketball doesn't work out, he's got my nod of approval to become a preacher.

#22 A.J. Slaughter 6'3" 185 pounds Guard Western Kentucky

A.J. got his Summer League invite for this (and only this) clip alone with Rudy Gobert being relegated on the bench. Courtney Lee would approve of this selection. Slaughter played in France last season. Seriously, 'Henny' couldn't bring over a guy who played in Greece for me? A.J. has produced some decent stats with Cholet, including in Eurocup action. Went undrafted in 2010 and played for the Pistons' Summer League team in Vegas that year and seemingly disappeared. Props to Slaughter for coming a long way in his post-collegiate basketball career. At least A.J. enjoys viewing Downtown Orlando from the Sheraton.

#30 Eric Wise 6'6" 240 pounds Forward USC

Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler hyped this guy up and probably got Eric all of his Twitter followers. I can't find a YouTube highlight of this guy, so that's a lot of point deductions in my book. Wise is intent on being a wing, but I don't see Eric receiving an October invite.

I'm just glad Hennigan didn't invite a guy that's under 6'3". That's a moral victory right there alone. If you don't want to pay David Stern money to view online streams of Summer League, I'm sure there will be other 'means' if you know how to utilize Google search. I'm excited to be attending my first Summer League event.

Oladipo at PG: Ploy or Legitimate Long-Term Possibility?

It's been a little over a week since Indiana Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo was drafted #2 overall by Orlando. It's time for 'Dipo to put on a Magic uniform (or at least an offseason version of one) and show his new fan base what he can do. On Friday, Victor got to show off his 3-point shooting stroke during Summer League practice. Also, you can just see in his body movement that he's hyper and pumped to ball with his teammates. 

The Magic have 18 players on their Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League roster. That's a lot, enough to field two separate squads basically. One team could be all free agents, and the other one would have the likes of Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, #51 selection Romero Osby, DeQuan Jones, and Doron Lamb. Orlando is playing games Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Day off Wednesday. Then play again Thursday with the 'championship day' on Friday.

So you can see certain players having days off, and it really does open up the chance to experiment. Which is why numerous media outlets have confirmed that Oladipo will get some action at point guard. The new #5 seems prepared and ready to take on all challenges. Now is the pristine time to fully test Victor's workload capabilities. I'd much prefer seeing Victor be appointed starting shooting guard. Some are already predicting impending doom with the 'Dipo PG experiment. He has the speed and quickness to defend point guards. But to run an offense? Can't be worse than Chris Duhon, right? I just don't want to undergo Reece Gaines or Jerryl Sasser flashbacks. 

So what's the end game to the Magic front office being so up front in almost promoting this endeavor with Victor at point guard? Well, here are all the options and reasons I can come up with in my head.

1. Oladipo plays PG, but Tobias Harris runs the show as a Point Forward

This is the best, and most craftiest theory in my eyes. Hedo Turkoglu may be out the door for good, but not the Magic's ability to have a forward running ball-handling responsibilities. Possibly. The time is ticking on Jameer's tennure in a Magic jersey. He's most likely going to be dealt before this upcoming Trade Deadline. But what if Orlando wants to hold on to Arron Afflalo as a starting shooting guard? Well then give Oladipo a shot. We know he can play shooting guard, see how versatile the 21-year-old truly can be while discreetly not handing him the keys to the offense. In just a few short months, we noticed that Tobias has some legitimate handles. If Carmelo Anthony can play PG and floor general, I know Harris can as a more efficient rate even. 

2. Oladipo's PG time limited only to Summer League to boost Afflalo's trade value

Until Eric Bledsoe was traded to Phoenix, everyone thought the Magic had a great chance at acquiring the young guard in a transaction that would include Afflalo. The Clippers also nabbed JJ Redick in their 3-way transaction with the Suns and Bucks. So they don't have a need for Afflalo. The Magic's front office is now back at the drawing board as far as what do they do with Arron. He's a great 3rd or 4th scoring option, but failed last season as a go-to scorer. So how do you rebuild Arron's trade value? Make it appear like he's a shoe-in to be your starter next season. Which is what Orlando is hinting by giving Victor court time as a point guard. 

3. It really is just an experiment and we're blowing things way out of proportion

Well that's no fun. You mean to tell me I should look into all those other guards the Magic invited to training camp? What if Victor fails miserably and his confidence gets shaken for all of eternity? What if my creeping thoughts of doubt come to fruition and I have to point a finger at Hennigan or Vaughn? 

4. The Magic see Oladipo as Russell Westbrook but without a terrible wardrobe

Jameer's replacement is right in front of us! Who needs Bledsoe when Oladipo is an even better athlete?! Hennigan witnessed in person what Westbrook has become. Maybe the telltale signs are indicating in Rob's mind that Victor can be Russ...but with better singing talents and being a sharper dresser. College statistics and highlight reels seem to produce evidence that this is highly unlikely. On a brighter side, I can safely say Oladipo is a better dribbler than Afflalo. Victor is about to be 'thrown into the fire' and he'll have his high basketball IQ and nerves tested. All I know is I'm excited to see this guy ball in person. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Magic Claim Victory to August 2012 Blockbuster Deal

It's official...Rob Hennigan got it correct. In what appeared to be an absolutely no-win situation, 'Henny' defied the odds and can now grin with a sense of extra pride. He got the best of the Sixers, Nuggets, and Lakers. The acknowledgement is ringing clear from media and fans of those other 3 teams, as well as those franchises not involved in the Dwightmare saga. It's never fun to lose your superstar. It's worse when it's happened a few times in your franchise's past. However, to know you got the better of a player trying to force his way out is pretty sweet to savor. 

Philadelphia took in Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson (HIGH FIVE, ROB!) in a push to make the playoffs. They got shipped off Andre Iguodala to Denver and handed Hennigan Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. Both 'Moe' and 'Vooch' had several outstanding moments, started a lot of games, and look primed to be part of the core that pushes for championship contention in the future. Now look at Sixers. Bynum didn't play a game. J-Rich looks washed up. The 76ers have had to overhaul their entire front office. Oh, and now they're in obvious 'tank mode' after trading All-Star PG Jrue Holiday to New Orleans during the draft. They drafted projects in Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams, while they officially waived the white flag on any contention by acquiring Royce White. Sam Hinkle is playing demolition man just like 'Henny' did last year, but Philly's future has great uncertainty in comparison to Orlando.

Denver wanted Iguodala and now 'Iggy' is gone to Golden State. The Nuggets lost their Executive of the Year in Masai Ujiri to the Raptors, and decided to fire George Karl after he had a phenomenal 2012-2013 regular season campaign. It's a head-scratching firing because Denver was severely short-handed in the playoffs as they bowed out to the Warriors (Ouch). Orlando got Arron Afflalo back from the Nuggets in the Dwight transaction. Though he hasn't worked as a first or second scoring option in '12-'13, Afflalo is still a highly-valued piece by a lot of teams out West. At worse, Arron is an asset that Hennigan can gain more cap space, young talent, and/or draft picks for. Denver too must rebuild even with guys like Ty Lawson, a recovering Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler on the roster. It's not enough in a super-competitive Western Conference. Notice a trend yet in this piece?

Who knew there could be more joy for Orlando after defeating L.A. at Staples Center last December. The Lakers went for broke with Dwight and Steve Nash, and busted. Badly. Let L.A. dream about tanking for Andrew Wiggins or signing LeBron James in free agency. They took Chris Duhon's contract from us and I can still laugh about it. I'm thrilled Earl Clark got away from that mess and looks to be in a position to contribute well on a Cavaliers team dying to make the playoffs this upcoming campaign. Who knows, Dwight leaving may be the best thing for Mike D'Antoni. He still has Gasol, Nash, Metta, and definitely play a more free-flowing brand of ball. But they won't make the playoffs, they're future is screwed for the time being as the Buss family will be desperate for a Kobe successor, and so we folks in Orlando can smile again.

Dwight learned the hard way that he had it made after all in Orlando. He can't come back to his original NBA franchise. Not any time soon at least. So the next best thing was Houston. More so than Atlanta, Golden State, or even Dallas. Especially when you factor Head Coach and championship roster potential into the equation. Houston is still a larger market than Orlando, but it's much more 'small time' in comparison to the Los Angeles behemoth. Oh, and it's a vastly better tax haven if you're one out of the billions of people who haven't heard this statement before. It took  mass media outlets like TMZ to rip open Dwight's personal life like an over-sized can opener to get Howard to realize how critical of an error in judgement was made. Lakers journalists (and so called journalists) and legends picked and prodded at Howard's flaws where the majority of fans and media in Orlando wouldn't nitpick.

It appears this time Dwight made a grown man decision and did what was best for him. Not family, not associates, not agents. Himself. I can at least respect him WAY MORE than in the past 2 years. His conscious will be all the better for him. Now health and dwindling athletic abilities are another matter.

It's not just Harkless, Afflalo, and Vucevic the Magic are celebrating about. I give the nod to Josh Robbins for providing us with what draft picks Orlando may/will end up with from last year's deal. Orlando gets the 2014 first round pick of which ever squad has the better win-loss record in '13-'14 between Denver and the Knicks. The Nuggets won't be making the playoffs and a lottery pick next summer would be beautiful. I hate saying this, but Magic fans may want to hope Carmelo Anthony misses a lot of games for the Knicks this upcoming season so that they become lottery bound as well. Let's see what moves Rob makes in free agency and if we see guys like Arron, Jameer, and/or Glen dealt to playoff contenders before training camp kicks off in October. Don't forget that $17+ million Trade Player Exception that doesn't expire until August 10th. Know this to be fact, I'll be having a Corona this weekend to toast Hennigan's brilliance in his 1-year at the helm so far.