What I would do with the Magic this summer?
It is obvious, just from the playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks, that Orlando could benefit from some off-season adjustments.
No, I'm not giving up hope for this season. Even if Orlando wins the whole thing, I'd be tempted to break up this team a little in order to make improvements for next season. I see there are already a few FanPosts looking ahead to the summer, so let me throw mine out there, too.
I've been toying with this idea for awhile now (even before Josh Smith went off for 26 points versus the Magic or the playoffs started). I recognize that our tradeable assets are slim, but I think some moves are possible. I try to avoid "homer" trades that rob other teams in order to benefit Orlando. Rather, I try to consider realistic scenarios that might be palatable to the trading partner as well as beneficial to the Magic.
FRONT OFFICE CHANGE:
Goodbye to Otis Smith.
Too many bad moves. (I know there were a few pluses, but too few.) I know some critiques are 20/20 hindsight, but even so.
- Failed to extend Dwight as soon as he was eligible.
- Got Vince Carter in the retread years.
- No return this year on our draft picks.
- Duhon for four years, for too much $$$.
- Net losses on the mid-season trades from this year--which essentially amount to giving up Gortat, Pietrus, and a 1st rounder to get Hedo back.
- Failed to obtain a backup center. Without which the bench cannot sustain leads.
- And, the last straw--gimpy Gilbert Arenas.
He's running out of players to sign or trade for from his days with the front office of the Golden State Warriors.
I don't get the sense that other GMs in the league enjoy doing business with him.
The only reason to keep Otis around at this point is to have a scapegoat if Dwight leaves.
The following player moves assume that the new CBA operates with contraints and stipulations that mirror the present agreement (or perhaps creates a environment that lowers the level of player salaries). I also assume (unless otherwise stated) that all these moves work together as a package. If any one part could not be pulled off, then the whole plan needs revamping.
1. Dump Gilbert Arenas under the new CBA?
If the new CBA mirrors the old CBA and allows franchises to excise one contract when the agreement is enacted, then Arenas gets the axe.
If Arenas is retained, he'd better get himself in game shape this summer and even then he's likely the 3rd PG. If he's disruptive to the team based on that decision, I'd give deep consideration to suspending him.
2. Trade with the Atlanta Hawks
OUT: Jameer Nelson, Brandon Bass, Quentin Richardson, Fran Vazquez, and 2014 1st round draft pick.
IN: Josh Smith and Jeff Teague.
If Atlanta is going to stay out of the tax after signing Joe Johnson, they need to make some moves. There was a report earlier this year of Josh Smith being a little distruptive in the locker room in terms of relating to the coach. Jeff Teague gets very little time and trust in Larry Drew's system. So, perhaps Atlanta is willing to part with the two of them in exchange for the right pieces.
This move assumes that Fran Vazquez will come over and sign this summer--which he might be more inclined to do if he has a chance to start on a team rather than being stuck on the bench behind ironman, Dwight Howard.
Why for Atlanta?
- Jameer is a PG upgrade.
- Get a starting center in Vazquez.
- Get a future 1st rounder.
- Get a starting-level, young, athletic backup PF in Bass.
- Get bench depth on the wing with QRich.
- Can use Hinrich's expiring for other assets.
- Atlanta only needs to resign Jamal Crawford, agree to terms with Vazquez, and fill out the roster with a few minimum salary players to be set for next season.
PG Jameer Nelson - Kirk Hinrich
SG Joe Johnson - Jamal Crawford
SF Marvin Williams - Quentin Richardson
PF Al Horford - Brandon Bass
C Fran Vazquez - Zaza Pachulia
Now, if the Hawks beat the Magic in the 1st round, they may not want to make many (any?) changes, since winning helps soothe strained relationships. And, while Josh Smith is really the only contributing piece they are giving up in this deal; he's a big chip. (So maybe Atlanta just decides to trade Marvin Williams to Dallas for Brendan Haywood and stand pat.)
Why for Orlando?
Josh Smith would become the starting PF.
- Though he has a reputation of spacing out on the court, I think he's an upgrade over Bass.
- Chucking has really diminished over the last two seasons.
- Good on defensive rotations.
- Great weakside shot blocker.
- Not the ball-stopper on offense that Bass has been. Smith averages three assists per game.
- Capable of attaching the rim.
- Gives the option of dropping down to SF in lineups with another PF.
Teague is a scoring PG that I think could serve as a sufficient backup in Van Gundy's system. Better than average three-point shooter. In a pinch, he could play at the SG spot.
This is giving up a lot of assets in order to get Josh Smith, but I think his contributions are worth it.
3. Trade PGs with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
OUT: 2012 1st round pick, Chris Duhon, $3M cash
IN: Ramon Sessions.
Why for Cleveland?
Yes, this is PG for PG, but it gives the rebuilding Cavaliers (which will take a few years) another draft pick, pays most of Duhon's 2011-12 salary, and lets them consider using Duhon as the backup PG if they both draft someone like Kyrie Irving and want to move Daniel Gibson or Baron Davis for other assets.
Why for Orlando?
While Sessions does not have Nelson's outside shooting (in fact he's pretty bad from distance), he does get to the rim and [importantly] draws fouls. I also think he'd be a great P&R partner in Van Gundy's offense. The rest of the moves preserve the three-point aspect of the offense. This is one of the moves that improves Orlando's ability to generate offense by attacking the rim and getting to the line. Yes, Jameer can drive-&-dish or drive-&-float, but he does not tend to draw contact and trips to the line. I also think Sessions and Teague give the option of playing at a faster pace and getting more transition buckets. Part of me thinks the slow pace to this offense might be Van Gundy, but I often wonder if Nelson isn't the bigger culprit.
On the other end of the court, Sessions' reputation is that he doesn't play defense, but I don't think he's been on a team that emphasizes it like Orlando does. He is certainly athletic enough to play good defense. Also, with Sessions at 6'3" and Teague at 6'2", there is a little added height and wingspan for PG defense.
4. Get a backup center.
Despite what the Orlando Sentinel reports, Orton needs to show me something before I pencil him in behind Dwight. I have no problem making him the 3rd center on the depth chart.
Option A: Trade with the Dallas Mavaricks? Ian Mahinmi for Lewis TPE, $2M cash, and a 2nd round pick.
Option B: Sign a free agent such as (in order) Kwame Brown, Nazr Mohommed, or even Alexis Ajinca. Orlando can sign & trade via the Lewis TPE to get a little above the minimum player salary without cutting into the mid-level exception (if it still exists). If the bi-annual exception still exists, that could be used, too.
Why for Orlando?
The need is fairly obvious. Though young and still gaining experience, I think Mahinmi would be athletic enough to defend the paint and, if Van Gundy would allow it, he's not a bad offensive option either. His plus/minus numbers have been pretty good for his career. I think he's worth a try. [Rakovic is an outside option here, too.]
5. Trade/Sign players from Denver Nuggets
I'd like to secure Arron Afflalo as the starting SG, but I'm not sure Denver will part with him. I'm even less sure now that JR Smith has expressed his desire to leave the Nuggets. Originally, I hoped Orlando could sign Afflalo to an offer rich enough to dissuade Denver from matching him (he's a restricted free agent). Then I got the idea to take on Al Harrington's contract to entice Denver to let the deal go through.
Denver and their players have some decisions to make this summer regarding who to extend/re-sign and who will go. Will Nene stay? Will they resign Kevin Martin? How much will Wilson Chandler cost them? Do they keep Felton or move him?
Frankly, I'm not sure that Denver would part with anyone but JR Smith. And if they won't, Orlando could do worse than hanging onto JJ Redick and re-signing Jason Richardson. Though since mid-season, I'm concerned that JRich is out of gas as well as a defensive liability.
This summer, there are few SGs of worth on the free agent market, so the bidding might be high for restricted free agent Afflalo. Can Orlando afford it?
There are lots of different options to make the salaries work. Here's the one that I think is best for Orlando:
Sign Arron Afflalo to a contract via the MLE to to an amount which he'd agree to sign and Denver would not match. This gives Affalo a greater raise than the max 26.5% bump he could get with an extension ($2.79M). Absorb Al Harrington via the Gortat TPE.
Maybe the 2014 1st round pick should be offered to Denver instead of to Atlanta. I don't know.
Why for Orlando?
Afflalo is the wing defender that has been absent this year. High basketball IQ. High percentage three-point shooter. Gets his points in the flow of the offense.
As an aside, Orlando could offer JJ Redick to Denver in order to get Afflalo. In which case two supplemental options are: (1) resign Jason Richardson as the second SG, or (2) sign a free agent like, say, JR Smith as a part of the transactions with Denver.
I'd pick to keep Redick. It provides more continuity to the team from this season and gives the Magic one more player in the locker room who is firmly behind Van Gundy's system. On the other hand, JR Smith can give instant offense off the bench. Though he has the rep of being an offensive player, Redick's percentages are actually better than Smith's expect that Smith gets more rebounds. However, Smith can slide up to the SF spot and play alongside Afflalo when needed.
Though I'd place Harrington down the depth chart here, he is good injury insurance and could make decent offensive contributions if called upon. He could play SF in a pinch. Granted, he's not been much of a defender in his career, but his role would be offense off the bench. (If I weren't trying to entice Denver to give up Afflalo, the cheaper route is to avoid Harrington and try to re-sign Earl Clark.)
Again, I'm not sure Denver will want to part with either Afflalo or Harrington.
ORLANDO'S LINEUP (age at season start in parenthesis):
PG - Sessions(25) - Teague(23) - Arenas?(29)
SG - Afflalo(25) - JJ Redick(27) or JR Smith(26)
SF - Turkoglu(32)
PF - Josh Smith(25) - Ryan Anderson(24) - Al Harrington(31)
C - Howard(25) - Mahinmi (or other)(24) - Orton(21)
Without Arenas, that is 11 players. The current roster minimum is 13. So, pick up two minimum salary players: a 3rd PG and a wing.