"In sports nothing is scripted but it's likely they win their first round. In the second round, they have to play either Boston or Cleveland. Had they been the #1 seed, they could have gotten away with it and play maybe Atlanta. I think they're a likely second round exit. There's still time left in the trade deadline and you'll never know what's going to happen. As of right now, I project them to get to the second round."
-- David Thorpe, ESPN.com & IMG Academies
As promised, here is Part II of my interview with David Thorpe of ESPN & IMG Academies.
In this part of the Q/A, Thorpe answered questions concerning the current playoff outlook for the Orlando Magic, the odds of GM Otis Smith re-signing Hedo Turkoglu, and more.
Click after the jump for the full transcript.
Do you think Otis could have gotten someone like Steve Nash, or even Raymond Felton, or someone like that? Do you think that could have been a realistic snag for him?
No, because I don't know who they would have to offer to do that. You're not going to get a great player with nothing but expiring deals. Trading Hedo, you're back to the same problem then. He's also a very special and unique player. He's one of those rare guys that can really play some point forward position. He can shoot the three. He always can get own shot off at the end of the clock. He's a very good pastter. He's an underrated defender when he's really locked in. Just because he's not having the best year this year, you can't trade that guy to fill Jameer's spot. If you could, yeah, you get yourself a good point guard but then you have a huge hole at the three spot. I think there was a lot less options than what the average person probably thinks.
At the end of the day, I think they're going to secure a top 3 seeding and win the first round of the playoffs. After that, no one is going to roll over that team. Dwight Howard is too good, Lewis is too good and Stan is too good. They're still going to play defense and they're going to be a tough team to beat in a seven-game series.
Where do you think the Magic stood before Nelson went down. Where do you feel they stood aside the Celtics and Cavs in the East?
I thought they were potentially the best team. I thought that, over a seven-game series, when you look at it this way. It was Boston's stifling defense and their Big Three versus Cleveland's stifling defense and LeBron James and Mo Williams a little bit versus Orlando's stifling defense and the best inside/outside combination. I actually wrote this on ESPN, to beat them in a seven-game series when they were healthy. You had to hope they had four bad shooting nights because if they have four good three-point shooting nights, which I think was very likely to happen, they were going to be very, very tough to beat because they did play that defense. That's the thing, if they have four great shooting nights, you have a hard time beating them. They still can steal a win even when they have an average shooting night because of the way they defended. I thought that gave them a little bit of an advantage going forward.
I still think the team was a little bit immature, obviously Dwight is very young. I don't mean immature as clownish, I mean immature as not seasoned. Stan's not. Stan's been through the trenches with the Heat as an assistant and of course, as a head coach. I think that team would have been extremely difficult to knock out in a seven-game series. I really did.
Do you think the Magic are, at most, a second round team?
In sports nothing is scripted but it's likely they win their first round. In the second round, they have to play either Boston or Cleveland. Had they been the #1 seed, they could have gotten away with it and play maybe Atlanta. I think they're a likely second round exit. There's still time left in the trade deadline and you'll never know what's going to happen. As of right now, I project them to get to the second round.
Do you see Otis Smith making an additional move? Almost seems unlikely now.
I would agree. It's not likely. Anything could happen but it's not likely that it will.
With regards to Hedo Turkoglu, obviously the big issue with him is trying to re-sign him for next year and moving on forward. How do you feel that process will go about? Do you think it's a likely scenario he will be with the Magic for the coming future, or do you think he's going to walk?
I think he'll be with Orlando. I think it's possible that he gets offered some more money other places. Possible but not likely, possible. Even in that scenario, I think it makes more sense that he stays with the place where he's really known and really has a role. Knows he's the starting three for the foreseeable future. Knows how good they're going to be. He's made a bunch of money in his career, already, and he's set to make much more. If I was guessing, I would guess that he stays in Orlando.
Do you think it would be a mistake, theoretically, if Otis Smith were to offer him 5 years instead of maybe 3 years, given his age. He's about to turn 30. Do you think that's going to be a bit of a problem giving a long-term contract to Hedo? Most NBA players historically decline as they start turn ing 30, 31, 32. Do you think that'll be a mistake if Otis were to lock him up long-term?
I think most GMs make that mistake. I think most GMs sign guys to too long-term deals but they're doing it because they paying the other guy well. I think Hedo has a unique enough game that where he's not going to decline too much. I know he's declining a little bit now but guys that can really shoot and are creative and crafty players tend to always be that way. I think he'll decline a little less than maybe the average person. When you got the kind of talent that Orlando does and obviously Lewis is there, Courtney is going to be a very good player, Dwight is the best, and Jameer is there, you know it's not all on Hedo's shoulders. Most GMs pay guys for too long and it wouldn't surprise me if Otis does the same, but on the other hand, he may be a less of a risk doing that than some of the other players.
If for any reason the Magic don't re-sign Hedo, what type of player could fit with the Magic if they would have to look elsewhere?
Well, I think they have to find a guy like Hedo because he always can get his shot off because of his size. Lu Deng is a similar player, he's a really tall guy. So you have to find a 3-man that has great size and shooting ability. I think that Rashard Lewis is better off going forward as the 4 that they have. A 3 that likes to rebounds would be good. You want to look at small forwards that really rebound their position because that's an area of upgrade that Orlando could use because you'll be playing Lewis at the 4. You have to go with a skill guy to some degree because Stan wants to spread the floor with Dwight.
In the next five years, do you think that the Magic will win a Title? What are their odds you think of them hauling in a championship?
If I had a list, which of these teams in the next five years wins a title, I'd probably have Orlando right at the top. Going into next year, let's say over the five year window, I'd probably have Orlando at the top for a couple of reasons. As long as they re-sign Hedo, they got a great nucleus going forward. If they don't have Hedo, they're going to have a long list of people that want to play next to a guy like Dwight and with a point guard like Jameer. I think the biggest factor is their coach.
I thought the year before the Heat won a championship, which was Stan's last year that he was the head coach for the whole year, I thought they were the best team in the league. I was there in person, watching games and talking to players. I thought that if Wade and Shaq don't get beat up a little bit, even Udonis was hurt some, I think they beat the Pistons in that seven game series. They lost in Game 7 at home, when Wade and Shaq were not feeling close to being healthy. I thought they were a good team. There's an evidence, statistically, that would show that they might be the best team that didn't win a championship. Obviously he built the nucleus what won the title for Miami the next year. He clearly knows how to win big games and knows how to strategize over a course of a season. I think he's proven that already in Orlando.
The best coaches tend to win. Jerry Sloan is the only one that hasn't and he's in a unique situation and always has been. The idea that Stan Van Gundy doesn't win a world championship in the next five years would seem wrong to me.
Part III of my interview with David will be unveiled next Monday. Stay tuned.