I am Otis Smith

It has occurred to me, over the past few months since the Magic were summarily dismissed from the playoffs, that perhaps I, or indeed any of us, could do a better job of running Orlando than Otis Smith is presently doing. With that in mind, I started to wonder what I would do...were I Otis Smith.

So I decided to figure it out properly. Firstly, I made a few assumptions. I decided that the only goal for the Orlando Magic is to win a league title. The Magic, as presently constituted, can not and will not win a league title in my opinion. I then determined that the best solution for this scenario is to blow up the team, and chase a 2012 max free agent point guard - either Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Which of the two does not matter for these purposes - I decided to assume Orlando can get one of them, if they have the cap space.


But what will the cap look like in 2011/12? There needs to be assumptions made here, too. Firstly, I assumed that the NBA gets its' way and a hard cap is implemented. I believe the most likely hard cap scenario involves a phased implementation, with a soft cap at, say, 55% of revenue in the first season, reducing to a hard cap at 53% in the second and 50% in the third. These numbers are largely arbitrary, but represent the sort of deal I believe the owners are looking for. So. That gives up cap numbers, assuming flat league revenues, of:


2011/12 - $56m (soft); 2012/13 $54m (hard); 2013/14 $51m (hard).


If league revenues increase, the numbers will increase too, but for these purposes I will be pessimistic in forecasting.


I'm also assuming that maximum salary players will be able to earn the same as they can under the present CBA - 25% of the cap each. This is a contentious assumption, as I have absolutely no idea where this is at in negotiations, but it keeps things simple. Therefore, the Magic will need to free up 50% of the cap in 2012 to sign Paulliams and re-sign Dwight. Target: $27m cap space in 2012.


I also decided to assume that, as part of the deal to get a hard cap, the owners do not manage to get any reduction in guaranteed salaries for existing contracts. However, they do manage to implement the best amnesty clause situation (for Orlando's purposes, admittedly) and can release, without salary cap penalty, two players. I then assumed the Magic will release Gil and Turk.


Without signing or re-signing anyone else, that gives Orlando a 2011 cap figure roughly $48m - already *under* my proposed new cap. It also gives Orlando the following players under contract, in depth chart configuration:


C: Dwight Howard, Daniel Orton

PF: Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass

SF: Quentin Richardson, Justin Harper

SG: J.J. Redick, DeAndre Liggins

PG: Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon


With the cap space to acquire an $8m SF to start and a couple of veterans on 1 year minimum deals to fill out the roster. This roster - assuming JJ's option is not picked up in 2012; both Bass and Nelson do pick up their player options; both second round draft picks are maintained on minimum salaries; and Anderson is retained at his qualifying offer amount - will have a 2012 cap figure of roughly $34.64m, assuming standard raises and proportional minimums.


Which is $7.64m too much.


Clearly, we need to trade some of those 2012 salaries away. My immediate targets? Jameer Nelson and Brandon Bass. Nelson, because with Paulliams in 2012 we don't need a highly paid PG, and Bass, because Harper is more likely to play PF in the NBA than SF, and plays a style better suited to van Gundy's offense than Bass does. Plus, their combined salaries in 2012 are $11.8m, meaning trading them for expiring deals gets Orlando under the 50% cap mark I outlined before. To the Trade Machine!


Orlando trade Jameer Nelson to Atlanta for Kirk Hinrich and Brandon Bass to Milwaukee for Carlos Delfino


This allows Orlando to acquire expiring deals who can still contribute, Hinrich as a mediocre starting PG and Delfino as a mediocre starting SF (but way better than Q-Rich, and also allowing Harper to slide to his "natural" PF spot), whilst the Hawks get a cheaper, better PG which allows them to see how good Teague can be over a whole season, and Bucks get a better, healthier forward than Gooden whilst freeing up backcourt possessions for Jennings and Jackson.


Which gives us:


2011/12 Orlando Magic:

C Dwight Howard, Daniel Orton

PF: Ryan Anderson, Justin Harper

SF: Carlos Delfino, Quentin Richardson

SG: J.J. Redick, DeAndre Liggins

PG: Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon

Plus roughly $7m in cap space to either save for 2012, or use to pad out the roster.


2012/13 Orlando Magic

C Dwight Howard, Daniel Orton

PF: Ryan Anderson, Justin Harper

SF: Quentin Richardson

SG: DeAndre Liggins

PG: Derris Paulliams, Chris Duhon

Plus two 2012 draft picks, and roughly $15m cap space left to fill out the roster - for example, it seems probable Gerald Wallace could be signed for around $8-10m per season in a new league. And he'd be perfect. Redick could also be brought back at a more reasonable amount, perhaps.


Now, I'm not saying that roster is going to win Orlando a title. Depending on who else is available in 2012, it may or may not be good enough. But I do think that's a vastly, vastly better starting place in a hard cap league than what Orlando are running with at the moment - it provides two elite players, some decent young talent and a big chunk of cap space. What more could you, or Dwight Howard, want?


(All salary cap numbers from Sham Sports. All salary cap rules, minimums and maximums from Larry Coon's cap FAQ. All exposition my own.)

This FanPost was made by a member of the Orlando Pinstriped Post community, and is to be treated as the opinions and views of its author, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

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