After Orlando's loss to Indiana the nightmarish 2011-2012 NBA season has mercifully come to it's conclusion for the Orlando Magic and it's fans. The big question is where does Orlando go from here? This off-season is likely the most important off-season in Orlando Magic team history. Orlando has to decide the fate of their good albeit controversial coach Stan Van Gundy, their GM and the man who constructed their 2009 finals squad Otis Smith and most importantly their franchise player and the NBA's best Center Dwight Howard. Which course of action will lead to the most successful long term future for the Orlando Magic?
Let's start with Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith. Otis has been an Co-Gm of the Magic since 2005. Here's a complete look at Otis' moves since he took over. http://hoopshype.com/general_managers/otis_smith.htm
Good Moves -
- Traded the draft rights to center Martynas Andriuskevicius to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second-round pick in 2006; traded cash considerations to the Phoenix Suns for the draft rights to center Marcin Gortat.
- Traded guard Steve Francis to the New York Knicks for guard Anfernee Hardaway and forward Trevor Ariza;
- Selected guard JJ Redick (11th overall pick
- Released head coach Billy Donovan and named Stan Van Gundy head coach.
- Selected guard Courtney Lee (22nd overall pick).
- Signed guard Mickael Pietrus.
- Traded forward Brian Cook to the Houston Rockets for guard Rafer Alston; traded center Adonal Foyle and guard Mike Wilks to the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Traded guards Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee and center Tony Battie to the New Jersey Nets for guard Vince Carter and forward Ryan Anderson.
- Signed forward Hidayet Turkoglu and traded him to the Toronto Raptors for cash from Toronto and the Dallas Mavericks.
- Signed guard Jason Williams.
- Signed forward Matt Barnes.
- Named Brian Hill head coach.
- Selected forward Fran Vazquez (11th overall pick)
- Traded center Kelvin Cato and a future first-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for forward Darko Milicic and guard Carlos Arroyo;
- Named Billy Donovan head coach.
- Traded forward Trevor Ariza to the Los Angeles Lakers for forward Brian Cook and guard Maurice Evans.
- Signed forward Brandon Bass.
- Selected center Daniel Orton (29th overall pick)
- Signed guard Chris Duhon.
- Traded guards Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus, center Marcin Gortat, a 2011 first-round pick and cash to the Phoenix Suns for guard Jason Richardson and forwards Hidayet Turkoglu and Earl Clark.
- Signed guards Larry Hughes
Now looking at it purely from a quantitative standpoint Otis has seemingly done an apt job. Unfortunately as Magic fans know this is not the case. Upon further inspection a decent portion of Otis' good moves ended up in the bad move column In fact from the bullets above 5 of Otis Smith's good moves turned into bad moves. Only 2 of Otis' good moves turned into another good move (Rafer/Lee). The final straw for Orlando was when Otis decided to trade all of Orlando's trade chips in a single and now infamous deal with the Suns. Orlando dealt Marcin Gortat, Vince Carters expiring, Mickael Pietrus' expiring and Orlando's 1st round pick for Hedo Turkoglu's devolving career and enormous contract, Jason Richardson's expiring (Who Otis re-signed to a AWFUL deal as a favor to Dwight Howard's agent Dan Fegan) and Earl Clark. This was a questionable trade at best from the beginning for Orlando. Hedo was clearly on the downturn of his career when Orlando let him walk a couple summers previous and had gotten significantly worse since. Jason Richardson was an aging athletic shooting guard with no handles, no defense and somebody who had thrived most of his career off of playing and up-tempo with teams that had good point guard play. This trade was always questionable for Orlando but was later confirmed a failure in the playoffs. Otis re-signing J-Rich to a long term deal was the coup de grâce to Orlando's cap flexibility and potentially could be viewed as the coup de grâce to Otis' tenure with the Orlando Magic.
Possible Mentioned Replacements: Kevin Pritchard, Donnie Walsh, Jeff Bower
Stan Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy has a much cleaner and much more visibly successful track record with the Magic than Otis Smith does. Employing the 1 in and 4 out system on offense to showcase Dwight Howard on offense and creating a defensive system that funnels the opposing teams players through the 3 time DPOY was coaching genius. Stan has consistently shown the ability to get open looks for his players at end of game situations (Jameer, Rashard, Dwight etc.). Stan also boasts a winning percentage of over .600 with Orlando. Stan Van Gundy's cons mostly revolve around his stubbornness. Stan has a track record of playing inferior players over their more talented counter parts because he doesn't trust them. Tony Battie over Marcin 07-09 playoffs.. Carlos Arroyo over Jameer Nelson for a short time in 07-08. Brandon Bass over Ryan Anderson (2010-2011). Duhon over Ish this season. Stan didn't trust most of these guys because of their defensive rotations or his favoritism of veteran experience. However it's up for debate whether or not this has cost the team some games. Another other knock that can be made about Stan is that this team may have peaked with him as head coach. Orlando hasn't improved in the past 3 years. Is that Stans fault? I think that's unfair to assume considering what Otis did to the roster. Let's not forget why we're even talking about Stan here in the first place, various reports have stated that Orlando's superstar Center Dwight Howard wants SVG out as Head Coach and that Orlando ownership is willing to acquiesce to Howard's desire in an attempt to get Dwight to sign on long term. However some SI sources say Orlando's front office actually came to Dwight about firing Stan not the other way around. http://www.iamagm.com/news/2012/04/21/shady.dwight.howard.never.asked.stan.van.gundy.be.fired.orlandos.front.office.did
Lastly we have Dwight Howard who has quickly become the most controversial subject among the Magic core fan base. The debate raging among Magic fans is whether or not to gamble the teams entire future on a player that some rightly or wrongly view as a traitor. Yes, Dwight did demand a trade. On the other hand he also rescinded that trade request when he declined his ETO. The core issue with all this hatred towards Dwight Howard is all the shoddy reporting and "sources" that were brought into this. The majority of the spite for Dwight doesn't even come from statements Dwight himself has made. It comes from sources. Grantland had a great article about this back in March http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7707344/twitter-dwight-howard-orlando-magic-changing-face-sports-news . There were a multitude of reports coming out this season and only one reporter got the story correct and that was Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM. Rudolph a friend of Dwight had the only reliable source in this situation. Rudolphs source was Dwight himself. That's about the most credible source there is in regards to Dwight Howard. If you want updates about how Dwight Howard feels regarding check Jarrod Rudolphs Twitter account @jrudolphsports periodically. Does he really want to leave? I don't think even he knows. As long as that's the case you definitely have to take the risk on a player with that kind of talent.
Return For Dwight Howard Now: ???
Contrary to popular belief Orlando's main priority this off-season doesn't actually concern Dwight Howard. It should concern cleaning up as much cap space as possible for 2013. Orlando needs to aggressively pursue players such as Andre Iguodala or Josh Smith via trade. Both of these guys have expiring contracts in 2013. (Assuming Iguodala opts out). This would help clear out massive space for Orlando to make a run in 2013 regardless of whether or not Dwight Howard leaves. Objective A for Orlando should be to rid themselves of Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon and Jason Richardson. However these guys have little to no value so for Orlando to rid themselves of these guys and not take on long term money they'd have to package somebody like Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson or JJ Redick and/or draft picks. That being said this is a necessary evil for long term and short term future for Orlando. If Orlando is able to accomplish this without Dwight Howard they should be able to build themselves into a cap light team with the ability to rebuild through the draft or free agency. With Dwight Howard they should be able to form a version of their own big 3.
Head Coach: Nate McMillan
GM: Jeff Bower
Draft Day: Orlando trades JJ Redick, Jameer Nelson (assuming he accepts his option) and 2012 1st round pick for Andre Iguodala
Free Agency: Orlando lets Ryan Anderson walk because SVG is gone and Ryan doesn't fit the scheme. Orlando signs Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, and Nazr Mohammed. Offer full MLE to Courtney Lee but the Rockets match.
Other: Don't expect Duhon back. Turk, Dwight and J-Rich all stay.