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Poor, poor Magic fans.
After two years of the Dwight Howard saga, the only way Orlando keeps the self-given moniker of “happiest place on earth” is with copious amounts of Xanax.
Nationally, basketball fans rejoiced that the whole thing was finally over, even if it meant the ostentatious Lakers again planting their smug faces in the national spotlight. It got that desperate.
Now it feels sort of awkward to look at the current Magic team, which is akin to examining an $80,000 luxury car after a crash test.
You can’t overstate how poorly not only Howard, but Magic management, handled the whole debacle. By letting things sour so foully, the Magic lost one of the best coaches in the game, while somehow getting less for Howard than I got trading in my ‘97 Acura at a used car lot.
Unfortunately for the Heat’s northern neighbors, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.
Re-signing Jameer Nelson
Competing with absolutely nobody, Jameer Nelson’s agent somehow extracted a 3-year/$20-million dollar shin-splint of a contract from the Orlando front office for his client less than a month before the Dwight trade was finally consummated. Since all of us suffered through the Dwightmare, we’ll gloss over the details, but it’s worth noting that no one outside of Orlando believed he was staying.
As a GM, if you know you are going to lose your franchise player (and you’ve got a good idea that you won’t be getting more than pennies back for your dollar)… why the f*** would you pay such a premium to bring back a point guard who ranks 35th in PER (among point guards)?!
They aren’t bad enough to get better
Although no one is projecting these Magic to make the Playoffs, the roster is chalk full of decent rotation-players, leaving the franchise in a state of flux. They don’t appear quite bad enough to bottom out, nor are they anywhere close to good enough to contend. Without the financial flexibility to sign a marquee free agent (nor the assets necessary to trade for one) for at least the next two years, this Magic team seems destined for prolonged mediocrity. Of course, after Golden State’s 2012 Tankapalooza, the bar has been lowered on fake injuries; we could see half the team out with mysterious injuries by midseason, but even then, they’re paying far too much for a non-competitive team.
As we covered last month, there are other models to building contenders (Daryl Morey, for example, has managed to build an exciting team that appears to be on the rise without ever allowing the team to hit rock bottom); unfortunately for Magic fans, Hennigan appears unfamiliar with any sort of long-term planning.
Yes they received protected first round picks in the Dwight deal, but look at who those picks are coming from. The Sixers, Lakers, and Nuggets will be Playoff teams, so the Magic are getting a bunch of first round picks that’ll most likely be in the late 20’s. Not exactly a huge come up.
Their new GM makes Otis Smith look like Pat Riley
Can you believe that a month ago Rob Hennigan, the current GM, not only willfully traded for a declining 32-year-old Al Harrington (as part of the Dwight deal), but somehow did not managed to get rid of Hedo Turkoglu in the process? How was getting rid of Turkoglu (who is owed $24 million over the next two years) not the priority? We’re still in disbelief.
Smith did Denver’s far sharper GM, Masai Uriji, a huge favor by taking on Harrington, who somehow has 3-years and $20 million left on a contract that was laughable two years ago when it was initially inked.
You could even argue that Arron Afflalo, allegedly the main “asset” in the deal, is overpaid. Can you really make the case that Afflalo is an above-average guard? For some reason he’s earned this reputation as a defensive force, despite the fact that Kobe Bryant consistently torched the 26-year-old this past postseason. Oh, and he’s owed $30 million over the next four years. Do you realize the Magic will be capped out this year with this crummy roster?
If you were a Magic fan, why would you have faith in Rob Hennigan at this point?
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You know those mind-numbing water cooler discussions about weather, pets and weekend activities? That soul-crushing small talk would be far less demoralizing if it included something you actually cared about.
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