Mar. 28, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) reacts during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 108-86. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Again, Dwight Howard is gone. So is Ryan Anderson. Those were the two best players on the Magic roster last year. So who is the best player now? Arron Afflalo? Glen Davis? It's a team crawling with players that runs the gamut between sub-mediocre to a quality third option (especially after Afflalo took a step back in the first year of his big deal). Probably not what Magic fans were expecting when the resigned themselves to the fact that Howard needed to be traded. The team not only managed to give up the best player in the four-team Howard trade but they also brought back the worst package in return.
Orlando nabbed a bevvy of talent but Afflalo and Gustavo Ayon are on the wrong side of 25, Al Harrington, Christian Eyenga and Josh McRoberts are inconsequential salary fodder, and, of course, the team also netted three first-round picks, one each from Denver, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. None looks likely to be a lottery pick and will more likely be in the mid- to low-20s. The team did have a strong draft bringing in Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn and trading for Moe Harkless, quality talent all but none has a terrifically high ceiling.
So really they burned the sucker down and took whatever Howard deal was still available. I would doubt that the team really thinks they have a star on its team but it does have six first- or second-year players on the roster with three extra first-round picks in its back pocket. It also could have as much as $22 million coming off the books after this season.
But what does that mean for this season? A team that ended the season as a decidedly mediocre squad got significantly worse, hired a first-year coach (and former Magic player) in Jacque Vaughn and for some reason I will never understand re-signed 30-year-old Jameer Nelson to a lucrative multi-year deal. It seems like half the organization has committed to a serious rebuild and the other really wants to fight for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and J.J. Reddick seem pretty entrenched in their roles but everything else seems up in the air. I can see new coach Vaughn, not too far removed from his playing days starting the year with Hedo Turkoglu, Davis and Harrington playing heavy minutes. Vaugh will talk about players earning their minutes and the playoffs being the goal for the season. Eventually, though, the team will decide to turn to a youth movement, try and find takers for the veterans and give a lot of run to Nicholson, Harkless and its trio of centers.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.