The Orlando Magic find themselves in a difficult spot as the 2012 NBA trade deadline approaches. The future of the franchise hangs in the balance as it decides what to do with All-Star center Dwight Howard. Does management heed the trade request he made during training camp, or instead retain him, hoping he can be convinced to re-sign when he becomes a free agent in the summer? Can the team make a trade for a high-level star before Thursday to appease Howard's request for a stronger supporting cast and boost its chances of competing with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls atop the Eastern Conference?
In this series, Orlando Pinstriped Post runs down the roster to look at the Magic's assets. All salary information comes from ShamSports.
Part two focuses on Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, and Jason Richardson, the three Magic starters not touched on in the first installment.
Age: 32; Position: Small Forward
Contract details: On a veteran contract worth $23.8 million ($17.8 million guaranteed) through 2013/14.
Key career stats: 14.6 Player Efficiency Rating, 15.1 points per 36 minutes, 5.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, 3.9 assists per 36 minutes, 54.1 percent True Shooting, 38.4 percent three-point shooting
My take: Turkoglu has enjoyed the most productive seasons of his career with the Magic under Stan Van Gundy, who's trusted the veteran with secondary ballhandling and playmaking duties, allowing him to run the high screen-and-roll with Howard to great effect. All things considered, however, Turkoglu is an average NBA starter making roughly double what he's worth. Further, the league knows enough about Turkoglu to realize he won't be nearly as productive outside Orlando, which hurts his value.
It's widely assumed any team trading for Howard would also need to take back Turkoglu, but a recent report indicates the Magic have tried trading him on his own of late. Good luck with that. Teams won't be interested in Turkoglu unless Orlando heavily sweetens its offer with some combination of future draft picks, cash, and one of its youngsters.
Age: 30; Position: Point Guard
Contract details: On a veteran contract worth $8.6 million through 2012/13, at his option.
Key career stats: 15.8 Player Efficiency Rating, 15.7 points per 36 minutes, 6.3 assists per 36 minutes, 2.7 turnovers per 36 minutes, 54.4 percent True Shooting, 38.6 percent three-point shooting.
My take: Prior to the 2011/12 season, Nelson was arguably the biggest bargain among starting point guards not on rookie contracts. His performance since then, however, has tanked his trade value. Perhaps unnerved by the rumors about Howard's future, Nelson's mired in the worst season of his pro career. While no one ought to have expected him to duplicate the efficiency that made him an All-Star in 2009, no one ought to have expected him to lose his shooting stroke entirely. Because he neither scores in traffic nor draws fouls, Nelson needs to be hitting jumpers--be them threes off the catch or long twos off the bounce--in order to keep defenses honest. He hasn't.
Further, his height makes him a defensive liability no matter what sort of effort he gives. Certain opposing guards can take him to the low block and score almost at will.
Teams in need of point-guard help--most obviously the Los Angeles Lakers--might be willing to take Nelson on, but he hasn't done himself or the Magic many favors with his performance during the lockout-shortened campaign.
Age: 31; Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Contract details: On a veteran contract worth $18.6 million through 2014/15, with the last year at his option.
Key career stats: 16.6 Player Efficiency Rating, 18.4 points per 36 minutes, 5.2 rebounds per 36 minutes, 53 percent True Shooting, 37.4 percent three-point shooting.
My take: Richardson's enjoyed a reasonably productive 2011/12 season, and for a starting NBA swingman, he's fairly paid. What's going to scare teams away from Richardson is the length of that contract: assuming he picks up his player option for the 2014/15 season, whichever team employs him will be on the hook for $6.6 million of a swingman's age 34 season. Players of Richardson's type--the ones who rely on athleticism to get their shots off--don't age terribly gracefully.
The Magic might be able to find a taker for Richardson, but I strongly doubt it.