The Orlando Magic traded Marcin Gortat, arguably the league's best backup center, to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday as part of their early-season roster makeover. The deal netted them two key rotation cogs in Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, but left them with Malik Allen as the only healthy backup to Dwight Howard. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Magic are working quickly to fill Gortat's void, scouring the trade market for more capable reserve centers. According to sources Tim Povtak cites in an NBA FanHouse report published Monday afternoon, Tony Battie of the Philadelphia 76ers and Ronny Turiaf of the New York Knicks rank among Orlando's top targets.
Battie is no stranger to the Magic, having appeared in 306 games over four seasons with the club, a tenure which ended on Draft Night 2009 when Orlando packaged him with Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee in a trade with the New Jersey Nets. Shortly thereafter, Howard expressed sadness about losing Battie, writing he "was like my older brother here in Orlando" in a blog entry. Though averaging only 10.4 minutes per game for Philadelphia this season, the 12-year veteran is making 51.1 percent of his shot attempts and is on pace to establish a new career-best in per-minute rebounding. His pick-and-pop skills make him a decent fifth option offensively, and he's a capable, willing low-post defender.
Turiaf, seven years Battie's junior, has more upside. His high energy and boundless enthusiasm make him a fan-favorite wherever he goes, but understand he's more than simply a hustle player: he's productive, too, converting 59.3 percent of his extremely limited shot attempts--he only uses 9.7 percent of the Knicks' possessions when on the court--and blocking a shot every 14.7 minutes. Further, he's an exceptional passer out of the high post and consistently ranks among the league's best big men in that area.
Before Gortat developed into Howard's full-time backup, Orlando deployed Adonal Foyle as its backup center. In 9.4 minutes per game during the 2007/08 season, Foyle averaged 1.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks and shot 45.8 percent from the floor despite hardly attempting anything outside the immediate basket area. Even at 32, though, Foyle ranked among the league's best low-post defenders.
A player of Foyle's relative caliber is probably about the best Orlando can hope for given its meager trade assets. Povtak says the Magic have tried packaging point guard Chris Duhon and swingman Quentin Richardson, whose contracts are worth a combined $24.4 million over the next four seasons, in order to land a center, but that package seems unlikely to yield much of a return, given how mightily both players have struggled this season.
Whether it's Battie, Turiaf, or someone else entirely, it's clear that Orlando intends to bring in another big body, and given how unproductive Allen has been since joining the playing rotation on a regular basis, it needs to address this issue sooner rather than later.