There is a storm brewing over Orlando, and it's not Debbie.
After the drama that was "I am Dwight Howard", the Magic saw their season end flat on its face with a 4-2 series loss to the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the playoffs. Shortly thereafter, both Stan Van Gundy (of MTV Cribs fame) and general manager Otis Smith were dismissed. The "good" news: Howard opted in for another year. The bad news: new GM Rob Hennigan is in charge of dciding whether or not to sit through another rerun of last year's soap opera. Furthermore, new reports are surfacing that that Howard wants to go to Brooklyn in hopes of teaming up with D-Will and Jay-Z. This clearly does not bode well for both sides.
So what is Orlando to do? Clearly Howard must be dealt or locked down. At this point, blowing up the whole thing isn't a bad idea. The team carried a payroll of $86 million (3rd highest in the NBA) with tons of bloated dead weight contracts (I'm looking at you, Hedo). The team also seemingly overpaid for the services of Glen Davis, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson, and must decide whether to offer large contract extensions to J.J. Reddick and Jameer Nelson, both of whom are due for either raises (or transfers) next season, as well as restricted free agent (and 2012 Most Improved Player [or maybe just Most Improved Minutes Per Game]) forward Ryan Anderson.
The Orlando Magic have the nineteenth pick in the draft, and since so much of the roster is in flux (read as, tied to whatever Dwight decides to do), that pick is equal parts potential rookie-potential veteran-potential trade chip. This team is a mess. But if a trade is consummated on Draft Night, the team must at least get better at the forward and center positions, and help restock the lowly bench with some crafty/efficient veterans.
Either way, in 2013, this team may end up being in the top 10 after fans get their hearts broken yet again.
- Jairo Martinez