The early playoff exit of the Orlando Magic has made the organization a target for rampant speculation and a nervous fan base. There are many unanswered questions surrounding the team.
Will Dwight Howard get traded to the Lakers? Will an NBA amnesty clause save the Magic from Gilbert Arenas’ monstrous contract? Are the Magic actively seeking trades that will help keep Howard in Orlando? Those and hundreds of other things are being thrown around.
Here are a few answers to some frequently asked Magic questions and a couple of rumors I’ve heard.
Will Dwight Howard be traded to the Lakers this summer?
No he won’t.
Howard’s reported infatuation with the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles is extremely overblown. The big man respects the championship pedigree in Los Angeles, but he’s truly focused on Orlando at this point and creating a championship legacy with the Magic.
Howard is sincere when he says his preference is to stay in Orlando, but he wants and needs help to get the team back to a championship level.
The Magic hold the cards: get Howard help and he’ll stay. If not, well, you all can figure that one out on your own.
Has Stan Van Gundy lost the locker room?
Sources say that several key players are fed up with Van Gundy’s perceived negativity, over coaching and an end of the world attitude. Players feel like Van Gundy makes big issues of minor things, such as their playful pre-game routine, asking his players at times to name other championship teams that do those types of silly things.
It’s also been said that Van Gundy doesn’t allow players, particularly those on the perimeter, to play with any fluidity, which has everyone not named Howard looking over their shoulder for a quick hook if they get outside of his offense for a millisecond.
Apparently there was also some miscommunication as to which bench players would be used during the playoffs. A few guys were under the impression that J.J. Redick wouldn’t be used much after coming back from an injury that kept him out of the lineup for a month.
There have been discussions of drastic changes to the offense, but the belief is that Van Gundy doesn’t have enough trust in his players for a new offensive approach to work.
It will be interesting to see what happens here.
Are Dwight’s wishes being ignored?
That depends on who you ask.
Sources say that Howard has presented the team with a wish list of players that have consistently been ignored. Some of the guys Howard is said to have wanted were Stephen Jackson, Glen Davis, and Josh Smith. He was reportedly told the guys he wanted didn’t fit with what the team was trying to do.
It has also been said that Howard hasn’t spoken to Otis Smith in almost three weeks and had plans of going directly to ownership to offer his insight, which is actually a good thing because it reinforces his desire to stay with the team. But it makes you wonder what, if anything, is going on with Smith.
Howard wants to win and to be consulted about the teams moves at the very least. To assure he gets satisfaction in this area he’ll be taking the communications with ownership into his own hands to make sure his voice is heard.
Where does Jameer Nelson fit in?
Sources say Jameer Nelson will be shopped but not necessarily traded. If Nelson is moved it will likely be in some type of package with Brandon Bass. Nelson has the most value and the most movable contract on the team. The Magic need pieces and understand Nelson can help them get what they need.
Are the Magic working on any trades?
Yes they are.
Sources say the Magic inquired about a few different players. After the loss to the Hawks, Orlando's need for a perimeter presence, on both defense and offense, couldn’t have been move obvious. Upgrading the perimeter is a top priority for Orlando this summer.
Andre Iguodala is at the top of that list.
The interesting thing about the Iguodala rumor is that the trade doesn’t include Jameer Nelson, the one Magic player not named Howard that has value.
Hedo Turkoglu is the player the deal is rumored to be centered around.
At a glance, it really doesn’t make sense for the Sixers. In fact, it’s nuts when you look at the per year dollar amount of Turkoglu’s contract. But if you look at it a little further you’ll see that the Sixers stand to save around $22 million in the long run, maybe more depending on the new CBA, if they make deal that moves the length of Iguodala’s contract.
It actually could work, which gives the rumor a little life.
The Magic will also be keeping a close eye on the Blazers and Brandon Roy.
It’s not known what Portland's plans for Roy are at this point, but if they make him available sources say the Magic will be ready to pounce provided he's healthy. Roy’s performance against Dallas has convinced many that Roy is closer to being healthy than he is to retirement. If that's true and Roy can play at a level comparable to his All-Star form, the Magic will be interested.
The hope is the Blazers still have an interest in Turkoglu, the belief is there is enough interest to move the needle on a deal. A conversation will happen at some point.
Expect the Magic to be creative and aggressive this summer.
Which free agents will the Magic go after?
Depending on the success the Magic have with trades this summer, the Magic will take a hard look at Caron Butler and Glen Davis.
There could also be a little flirtation with Jamal Crawford, but ultimately the price will be too high for the high-scoring reserve.
You never quite know what to make of rumors, until a deal goes down nobody knows if it’s true or not. But the Magic seem to be involved in a lot of talk, which means Otis Smith is doing his job.