Jerry Brewer of the Orlando Sentinel reports: The Orlando Magic are prepared to look behind dark corners and in cracks and crevices to find answers to their front-court problems.
And, yes, that means exploring whether Shawn Kemp deserves another chance.
The Magic are interested in speaking with him and seeing him work out, according to a source. A meeting is expected within the next two weeks.
Magic General Manager John Gabriel has been quiet when asked specific questions about Kemp, but he does not hide the fact that his team must be creative in solving its front-court quandary.
"We haven't ruled out anybody," Gabriel said. "We want to win. In order to win, we will explore all possibilities."
The problem is, there are few possibilities out there. The Magic wanted free-agent forward Brian Skinner, but he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers last week. The Magic missed out on Skinner a day after learning that forward/center Steven Hunter will miss at least half of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Right now, the Magic are left with three true post players on their roster: 37-year-old Horace Grant, unproven 21-year-old Olumide Oyedeji and 29-year-old journeyman Andrew DeClercq. Other than that, they have two undersized players who can play some time at power forward in Pat Garrity and rookie Ryan Humphrey. If the season started today, the Magic would only be able to dress 11 players.
"Right now, we have a need to fill out the 12-man roster," Gabriel said.
Because of luxury-tax concerns, the Magic negotiated buyouts with Patrick Ewing and Jud Buechler. They also traded Don Reid and a future first-round pick to Denver for a 2004 second-round pick. At the time, Hunter was healthy and hungry to contribute.
Gabriel said acquiring a big man through trade is "unlikely, but we'll still explore those options." The problem with a trade is that most teams won't trade a big guy for smaller players.
Gabriel also said it is unlikely that the Magic could offer a free agent more than a minimum contract (RealGM note: They only have about a 900,000 gap between their payroll and the $50 million target that they don't want to exceed). Kemp has not said how much money he will seek. He is likely to get several minimum offers.
Beyond Kemp, the Magic would have some interest in San Antonio forward/center Cherokee Parks and Dallas center Wang Zhizhi, who is unlikely because he is more likely to be signed and traded by the mavericks elsewhere. Washington forward Popeye Jones remains unsigned, but he would only consider a minimum offer if other options -- including Seattle and Dallas -- fall through but that is highly unlikely and their is still a good chance that he will go back to Washington.
Gary Trent and Charles Oakley are also available but Orlando will likely pass on Trent because of his injuries and it seems like they don't want anything to do with Oakley.