Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rounding Out Orlando's Roster

I don't know about you folks, but we've breezed through this preseason. We're less than a week away from the Magic's road back-to-back to begin the regular season. Jacque Vaughn's roster still stands at 19 players. If you can't recall, fifteen is the limit once Opening Night hits the league.

So with some assistance from the MBO salary page, let's take a peak at who may not wear a Magic jersey next week.

Even though Hedo Turkoglu is still in town, he won't be sniffing a Magic game or practice ever again. But he still takes up a roster spot. Rather than just give Turk the guaranteed half of his salary ($6 million), GM Rob Hennigan is trying to negotiate that number down. This could go on until the middle of January. That's bad news for camp invites Solomon Jones III, Kris Joseph, Mickell Gladness, and Manny Harris.

Gladness, along with his middle name of Jawaun reminding me of Juwan Howard which makes me hate him already, is weaker than a toothpick when he goes up to attempt anything close to the rim. It's astounding that this man is such a blocking machine. Mickell was exposed against a beefy Detroit frontcourt, and I don't see him having any chance of staying on. He didn't play Tuesday at San Antonio and it's safe to say that Coach Vaughn agrees with my viewpoint. The 6 blocks at Dallas was something special though.

I was hoping that Kris Joseph would have the best chance of the four men to make the roster. That was solely based on his Media Day interview. But I've been ready to cut the Syracuse product since the Pistons game. Kris' jumper has improved, but he's maybe on par with Justin Harper (we know how that would go) from the perimeter. Joseph can't provide a spark defensively and he's coughed the ball up too many times to truly warrant a chance on this ball club. A little more D-League sharpening will do wonders.

Manny making the 15-man squad would make me come up with creative attempts at utilizing L'Adorable in way too many headlines. Harris reminds me of a guy who probably would've been perfect in the '70s, and watching the Spirits of St. Louis ESPN 30 for 30 a few weeks ago re-affirmed that thought. Manny would have a legitimate chance if Orlando wasn't so wing heavy. His best asset is actually getting to the free throw line as he showed against Dallas. Something that is as valuable around here as water in a desert. I just wish we could see more of him on that parquet. I can't fairly evaluate his defense but he's gotten confused on a few defensive switches. Manny's outside shot is quite respectable, and a lot of that is noticeable just in warm-ups. This is where we need to think about the difference between preseason competition and the big boy show. In 80 games over two seasons in Cleveland, Harris has shot under 40% from the field. Could it be the 24-year-old will up that percentage if he's on a regular season roster? Preseason stats say yes.

So that leaves us left with Mount Dora product Solomon Jones. You talk about a humble guy who has experienced so much in his basketball career. And he's still in his 20s, barely. In the two games he's received decent court time (Mavs and Pistons), Jones has really produced on both ends with a knack for drilling jumpers beyond Kyle O'Quinn range and more like Andrew Nicholson. Kyle's the better passer, but Solomon has the more active defensive hands. Plus, that experience goes a long way. Jones will most likely get a full run on Friday against the Pelicans, and I think everyone should focus on how he handles the situation. Solomon did well to assist in shutting down Greg Monroe and Zach Randolph. That goes a long way in getting noticed.

Kyle O'Quinn is the only Magic player from last season who doesn't have a guaranteed deal. However, Kyle can stop sweating once October 29th comes around. So Rob Hennigan and crew will have a long upcoming weekend to decide how they view KOQ's future outlook. To be fair to Kyle, Solomon is making this decision difficult than anyone could've anticipated three weeks ago. Jones isn't known as a shot blocker, but he appears daunting in that statistic in comparison to Kyle. What's in Kyle's favor is that everyone in the locker room adores his personality and work ethic. Even more of a factor, Jacque likes running the offense through Kyle in the post when he's in the game. O'Quinn became an NBA prospect because of his outstanding passing abilities at Norfolk State, and Jacque is keying in on those great selfless instincts.

Then we have Doron Lamb. He showed signs of immense defensive and offensive improvements at Summer League...and then he got hurt. And now Lamb has been out hurt the entire preseason with his right ankle sprain. Doron's almost $800,000 salary is guaranteed for this season, but no further than that. However, he's two weeks away from being 22 years old and his size makes him a better multiple position option than E'Twaun Moore. You can see it that since the Redick deal, Lamb continues to get better in this Magic environment. Sure he seems a little too enamored with socks, but he wears awesome backpacks and his potential that he showed playing at Kentucky far exceeds what Moore could ever provide. And we're just talking about the 3rd point guard spot.

If I had it my way, I would bite the bullet and pay E'Twaun his under $900,000 and eat up the one season $1.2 salary cap hit and be done with it while signing Solomon Jones in the process. Why on Earth would I do that? Because E'Twaun, even when he's drilling 3s, scares me. Moore is still getting lit up on defense and he's still turning the ball over at a large clip. That's why even though he's shooting just a hair under 50% from the field this preseason, I'm not impressed in his overall growth. He's not on an Oladipo curve anymore when it comes to being a floor general, and he's too short and not versatile athletically to play SG. Could E'Twaun easily be shown the door as a free agent in the summer of 2014? Of course. It's not like Orlando is competing this season. But I'd much prefer giving Moore's minutes to Oladipo and Lamb.

What will probably happen? Last season, Henny kept the Magic at fourteen men following the Bucks deal. Considering Hedo is in one of the current spots, it's safe to say that we're looking at a full 15-man roster (14 on the plane) when we head to Indiana. Osby has looked decent in preseason and has the Kevin Durant Summer League hype supporting him. Romero's aggression and respect of time and touches has earned him points in the coaching staff's eyes. I think the other 4 camp invites will be kicked to the curb which is a shame for Solomon and Manny. But who knows, we still have that Pelicans preseason finale Friday night to change our minds.

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