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My Night At The Bradley Center

Some of you in the community were aware a few days ago that I was going to watch the Orlando Magic face off against the Milwaukee Bucks last night. As promised beforehand, I decided to provide a personal account of my experience at the Bradley Center.

Click after the jump to read my story.

A few days prior to the game, I was able to get into contact with David Steele and simply give him a quick heads up that I was going to be in Milwaukee to watch Orlando play. I figured, given that I’ve been able to establish contact with both he and Matt Guokas, that maybe I could chat with either of them prior to tipoff.

Luckily last night, I was able to do so. Mr. Steele was gracious enough to speak with me for roughly 10 minutes, in which we both touched on a variety of topics. I figured I’d share some of the particulars of our conversation, given the relevance our opinions and thoughts would have to Magic fans. As a warning beforehand, I will be jumping from each topic without a smooth transition.

Both Mr. Steele & I spoke briefly about the Orlando/Cleveland game that took place a few days ago. Even though some reports have stated this tidbit, concerning the matchup pitting two of the top teams in the East, Mr. Steele confirmed that the game definitely had a playoff feel to it. Both squads were active and engaged the entire night, and obviously the crowd helped add to the atmosphere.

Rafer Alston’s name was brought up in the conversation, and it was encouraging to hear from Mr. Steele that Skip is really enjoying his time with the Magic. I think many observers would agree that Alston has brought a welcomed swagger to the roster, and it’s clear that the players have responded positively to his presence. There have been concerns from Orlando fans, regarding whether or not Rafer will be content backing up Jameer Nelson next season. At this point, it doesn’t appear as though Skip will have any problems relegating to the bench next year.   

As for Alston’s performance on the court so far with the Magic since the trade, both Mr. Steele & I agreed that Skip has been able to assimilate to the roster quickly and successfully. But it’s clear some of the nuances (ie: chemistry with Dwight Howard) that Jameer was able to bring, while he was on the court, are lacking at this point with Rafer. That’s not Alston’s fault, per se; that just speaks to the relationship both Howard & Nelson had on the court together, for example.

The next player discussed about was Marcin Gortat. It’s no secret that the cat is out of the bag with the Polish Hammer, and I was curious to see if Mr. Steele thought GM Otis Smith would try to find a way to re-sign Gortat during the off-season. I brought up a purely theoretical scenario, in which Orlando trades Tony Battie (a player with minimal value at this point, but with an upcoming expiring contract), for the purposes of clearing cap space and allocating enough money for Gortat. Mr. Steele said anything is certainly possible, but it’s purely speculation at this juncture. All in all, how much money will Gortat see in free agency? Mr. Steele surmised that Gortat may net half of the Mid-Level Exception, which would be roughly $2 million - $3 million dollars.

Hedo Turkoglu. Obviously every Magic fan wants to know the latest scoop on Turk. Well, as I’ve been preaching the past few weeks around here at 3QC, it seems as though Orlando may luck out on the fact that both the economy and the landscape of free agency this offseason will cut into Hedo’s options a bit. Mr. Steele thought that Turkoglu will probably re-sign with the Magic, for the simple reason that Turk knows he’s currently involved in a good situation with the team right now (an opinion echoed when I spoke with ESPN's & IMG Academies' David Thorpe a while back). Monetarily, I asked Mr. Steele what type of contract does he believe Hedo would accept? The contract figure surprised me - 4 years/$24 million. I asked Mr. Steele if he thinks Turk will be satisfied with that amount of money and he felt Hedo would be. Mr. Steele feels that the current posturing Turkoglu’s agent is engaging in is more bark than bite and that Turk’s representative knows that Hedo has a good thing going on with Orlando.

A couple days ago, Ben brought up the fact that the tail end of the Magic’s schedule currently contains a number of teams vying for the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. It may seem like a bad thing for Orlando (make the road to earning a #2 seed tougher), given that these squads will have something to play for near the end of year but Mr. Steele believes this development may help the Magic actually. His reasoning made sense; basically, it’ll keep the team on their toes as the playoffs creep closer on the schedule.

Fast-forward through the Orlando win.

I didn’t bother getting autographs or pictures last night, given that I took care of all that when I went to see the Magic play the Bulls a few weeks back. I just wanted to enjoy a game of basketball and thankfully, I was able to do so.

All in all, that was my night at the Bradley Center.