Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie writes the obituary on this year's Orlando Magic, but says that they have to return next season with the same core philosophy and personnel. They have no choice.
Could you start things over, if you wanted to, Mr. Orlando Magic? No, you couldn't. Because you've already spent the money. You bought the tickets, and you're on the cruise. It doesn't matter if you don't like the buffet, if you can't stand the MC, or if you forget to pack your good slacks. You're on the boat. You're going to be there, with this crew, until at least 2012.
Their downfall, Dwyer writes, came from trusting Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis, three guys "who shouldn't be leaned upon" and "who cannot be trusted." And he doesn't think those three will show up next year, either, curiously likening Carter to "[his] 1996 Dodge Stratus." But he also says that Orlando "should probably have the best chance [...] at taking the Eastern crown in 2010-11," and that if anyone can get the most out of this team, it's Stan Van Gundy.
Here's how Dwyer's analysis winds down:
You rely on what has worked, time and time again in this league. A fabulous coach, a defensive anchor in the middle, and screen and roll options. It's a winning formula, and you don't abandon it just because Jameer Nelson's decision making took a week off in May.
Given how often I link to Dwyer, and given the opinions I've expressed elsewhere on this site, it should be obvious that I tend to agree with a lot of what he's written here.