I’ve recently seen on NBA.com the efforts to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando after 2012. http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2011/04/22/magic-fan-fighting-for-dwight/?ls=iref:nbahpt1
This got me to thinking. What are some necessary moves that keep Dwight Howard?
The first thing I see most people say is to grab Chris Paul. I think that is an obvious route to pursue, but how? And is that the only one? Most definitely not. Grabbing Chris Paul would not automatically improve this team to Championship caliber status. Would make them contenders? Yes, but they are contenders now, would they be better contenders? I’m not sure, it depends on what they had to give up.
So, since I’m not a salary guru or trade machine junkie, I’m going to break down some roster moves that make the Magic a top notch contender after 2012. With the roster I give you Dwight would not leave and attracting a player like Chris Paul would be all the more successful.
Looking at the Magic roster right now, there is one glaring weakness on it. What’s that you say? A top flight PG? A proven 6th man? No, and no. The glaring weakness especially in the playoffs is … a quality back up center. Yes, someone who can allow Dwight to play even more aggressive than he is right now, because foul trouble becomes less of an issue. Dwight can’t play 48 minutes of every game, and despite Ryan Anderson’s and Brandon Bass’s best efforts to spell him as undersized centers, they prove to be ineffective at best most nights.
For the purpose of my conversation I am going to steer to who I think would best fill this role (and is currently in the NBA). The guy that Orlando should go after and do it this off season is … Greg Oden of the Portland Trailblazers. That’s right Greg, with two busted knees, Oden. This guy is a beast when he does play, and is a rebounding defensive machine. Give him ten to fifteen minutes a night and you got the best center combo in the league. He won’t be ready right from the get go, but the pressure of saving a franchise won’t be on him, and you really will only need him for the playoffs and for that summer of 2012 to attract the other big upgrade. You may even be able to get away with a sign and trade to get him shipping off Daniel Orton for him, and the former #1 overall draft pick will come on the cheap.
The other acquisition I would make if I was the Magic is an attempt to grab the best SF the Magic could ever have with Dwight, someone who will help him out immensely on defense. This someone could even play alongside Hedo, guard the 2 or the 3 and sometimes the 4 if needed. He’s a lockdown defender and a deadly 3 point shooter. I give you Shane Battier. Yes he’s getting up there in age but he more than makes up for it with his uncanny veteran savy. His acquisition would give the Magic loads of options and make them a defensive team to fear. He can lockdown the Joe Johnson’s, the Kobe’s, the D-Wade’s and Paul Pierce’s of the league, and he can even frustrate the tar out of LeBron James. That’s a commodity to seek especially in the East.
After picking up just these two pieces, acquiring someone like Chris Paul would be much much easier. Personally I’d rather the Magic went after Deron Williams, who will also be available the same offseason, as of right now (pending the summer and whether he signs an extension from NJ). He doesn’t have Chris Paul’s knees and that is the main reason I would rather him over CP3. Injury wise, they both play very physical for point guards and they both tend to get hurt. This no slight to Jameer Nelson, but let’s face it, there’s a solid a upgrade with Deron or Chris over Jameer, one that cannot be fully explained in stats, even though they thoroughly demonstrate that chasm. Also by parting with Jameer for D-Will or CP3, Gilbert Arenas’ role becomes clearly defined as the Magic’s version of Ben Gordon circa the Bulls (not the Pistons). His contract doesn’t become the huge elephant in the room, and the pressure to perform is not as great because now, Defense wins championships and you just brought 2 great defenders (3 if you get Chris Paul) to a team with one Supernatural defender.
Let me know what you think. Is there a better backup center to go after? Better SF? Chris over Deron Williams? D-Will over CP3? Or would you rather a better SG, to either come off the bench or start in place of Jason Richardson?