The Orlando Magic have found some life since returning to the Amway Center.
ORLANDO — J.J. Redick went 8 for 8 from the free-throw line in the final 22 seconds to help the Orlando Magic hold off the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-104 on Friday night at the Amway Center.
Brook Lopez showed Orlando what it passed up on last season, dominating the paint in limited minutes as the Nets breezed through a laugher Friday night, 104-68, at the Amway Center.
The Orlando Magic continued a team tradition on Sunday, donating more than 800 tickets for their home game against the Phoenix Suns to uniformed members of the U.S. military “to honor their dedication and bravery.” The kickoff of the ninth season of Orlando’s “Seats for Soldiers” promotion featured a slew of military-inspired activities at the Amway Center, as well as several events and presentations designed to create a bit of fun for the local military personnel, all of which constitutes a cool, decent way to show a bit of appreciation for those who serve.
One of the highlights of the game-long salute was intended to come when “Stuff, the Magic’s mascot” — whom you might remember from one of the many sports-related “Gangnam Style” covers to cross our desks this summer — “led several members of the U.S. military onto the court between the first and second quarters to try to use a portable trampoline to dunk basketballs,” according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel’s Orlando Magic BasketBlog . The math seemed sound — dunks are fun, trampolines are fun, dunking off trampolines is fun and amateurs performing tasks typically reserved for professional stunt people is fun (provided those tasks are not unspeakably dangerous or performed without legitimate supervision, of course).
Unfortunately, the Magic appear to have left a slight remainder in their calculations, as evidenced by one leaping soldier coming up just a bit short on his attempt:
The Magic‘s predominant storyline this summer has been about a man (alright, a child) who wants nothing more than to leave Orlando. Meanwhile, a roster full of actual men have spent the past week battling at the Amway Center, wanting nothing more than to stay in Orlando.
With 60 percent of the Orlando Summer League in the books, the Magic’s roster is beginning to sharpen into focus. Highly touted rookies, undrafted free agents and young veterans alike have come together to battle for a spot in Orlando’s 2012-13 roster.
The team has disappointed, going 1-2 thus far, but Summer League isn’t about winning; it’s about player evaluation. And in that regard, Orlando should be very happy.
Here’s a look at how the roster has begun to shape up after three days of competition.
After a two-year hiatus summer league action finally resumed in Orlando with eight teams taking the court at the Amway Center. Summer league isn’t about wins and losses. While the players always want to win, the real importance in this camp is in the exposure and experience that they get. For young players with guaranteed [...]
Serving as an alternate to the 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada, eight teams will take part in the AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League at the Orlando Magic’s practice court at the Amway Center. From July 9-13, eight teams will play in 20 games over five days at the facility in an event that is not open to the public and will only be attended by the media and professional team/league personnel.
When the Orlando Magic went out without so much as a whimper during the first round of the NBA playoffs in May, the calls for change in Central Florida rang louder than they ever have before.
The current state of things wasn’t working, and the increasingly impatient fanbase wanted to see something — anything — new: A new coach, a new GM, new players and a new direction. Now, they seem to be getting it all, and all at once, so hopefully they’re ready, because there’s no going back now.
Last week, the Magic made the first of many moves during what is sure to be the most tumultuous offseason in franchise history. They hired Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Rob Hennigan to replace Otis Smith as the leader of the their basketball operation.
Hennigan then took no time making his presence felt during his first weekend on the job at the Amway Center, and in the process removed any doubt that may have lingered about the weight of his voice in the team’s decision-making process going forward.
Clearly more than just a puppet for CEO Alex Martins and the DeVos family, which owns the Magic, the 30-year-old first-time GM fired assistant GM Dave Twardzik on Sunday, reportedly replacing him with former Pistons assistant GM Scott Perry.
Hennigan also cut ties with six team scouts, and on Monday, he let go of Adonal Foyle, a former Magic player and the team’s director of player personnel.
Head coach Stan Van Gundy had already been relieved of his duties by the time the team hired Hennigan. As the new front office continues to take shape in Orlando, one can’t help but wonder if All-Star center Dwight Howard will be the next victim of his new boss’ house-cleaning project.
Whether he is or not, one thing is for sure: He should be.
The Magic brought Hennigan in to formulate a boom-or-bust blueprint and restructure the entire franchise from top to bottom, using good drafting, shrewd spending and insightful analysis — all concepts the Magic have never seemed to fully grasp — to build a contender.
That’s what Sam Presti groomed Hennigan to do when the pair worked together in Seattle and Oklahoma City, and I believe he’s fully capable of doing the same thing in Orlando. But Hennigan can’t do it with the uncertainty of Howard’s situation weighing the team down and holding the process back.
To this point, the Magic have been predictably non-committal about Howard’s status with the organization. The team’s brass gave away very little during Hennigan’s introductory news conference last Thursday, choosing to take the answer-without-answering route to any and all questions about the team’s franchise player.
The sense I picked up listening to Hennigan and Martins discuss the big man’s future wasn’t one of overwhelming hope. The Magic seem to realize that things aren’t going to work out the way they hoped when they heaped mounds of undue praise upon Howard for waiving his early termination option just before the trade deadline in March.
Everything about the last four months has been nothing more than build-up to Howard’s departure. Howard’s absence, since back surgery ended his season in late April, has been hard not to notice, and the general sentiment seems to be that his days in Orlando are numbered.
Howard isn’t coming back, but he was never coming back, and Orlando knows it. If Howard wanted to stay in Orlando, he would have already said so, and frankly, it would be a shock to see him wearing a Magic jersey when training camp opens this fall.
So at this point, the Magic should be looking for the best return for their best player so they can allow Hennigan to do what he does best. The decision to cut ties with the biggest star in franchise history may — and perhaps should — come as soon as this week.
The latest report to make the rounds is that the Houston Rockets are hoping to emerge as a contender for Howard’s services. But according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, there’s “not a chance” the three-time Defensive Player of the Year signs a long-term deal to stay with the Rockets past the 2012-13 season.
On Tuesday, Houston traded forward Chase Budinger to Minnesota for the No. 18 pick in Thursday’s draft, giving the Rockets the No. 14, 16 and 18 picks in the first round.
The thought is that Houston may be able to package some or all of those picks, along with point guard Kyle Lowry and his friendly contract, to move into the top 10, potentially swinging deals with either the Sacramento Kings (No. 5) or the Toronto Raptors (No. 8), or perhaps both. The Rockets, under this plan, would then use those picks, and perhaps the contract of Kevin Martin, to lure the Magic into sending Howard their way.
Should such a move pan out — and there is no guarantee that it or another one like it will — it would be the perfect way to start the rebuilding process in Orlando in earnest. In addition to ridding the Magic of the Howard drama while taking on a wealth of young lottery-caliber talent, any trade would likely include the albatross contract of Hedo Turkoglu, which Orlando is dying to rid itself of.
It could also spell the end of point guard Jameer Nelson’s time in Orlando, as he has until June 29 to decide whether to accept his player option for the upcoming season and likely wouldn’t return without Howard. The same goes for reserve forward Earl Clark, who has indicated that he may test the market, as well.
Additionally, forward Ryan Anderson will be a restricted free agent this summer, and shooting guard J.J. Redick can be waived before July 7 without the Magic being on the hook for the final year of his contract, which is totally non-guaranteed until then.
If Hennigan so chooses, he truly has an opportunity to start with a clean slate and construct a winner in Orlando — and that’s what the Magic brought him in to do. But it’s a slow build, and fans have to give it a chance to work before they start calling for more change.
They have to stop watching the Heat celebrate the first of four, five or six championships and think about where their team might be in four, five, six years, because Hennigan isn’t in Orlando to mash together a championship roster overnight.
He’s there to build one from scratch, and if he’s given enough time and the proper tools, there’s every reason to believe he can do it. But before he can do anything, Howard has to be the first domino to fall.
Follow Sam Gardner on Twitter: @sam_gardner.
That expectation was torn to shreds almost immediately, though, on the heels of a report from Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com which stated the “All-Star center desperately wants to be traded prior to the start of next season.”
None of this should come as a surprise, though. Howard has been indecisive, at best, regarding his future plans and the fact that he wants to disassociate himself from an organization on the verge of self-inflicted implosion is far from shocking.
But at the risk of subjecting us to an identical routine, Howard has, in fact, implemented some changes into his exit strategy.
According to Sheridan, the big man still has a list of preferred destinations, one that is strikingly similar to the infamous “wish list” of this past season, except that it has been expanded upon to include none other than the Knicks.
The Knicks always seem to find themselves in the thick of trade rumors, yet this time, it’s different. This is the first set of Howard-initiated chatter, far more significant than the musings put forth by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith back in January.
Suddenly, it all seems real. And exhausting.
Let’s ignore the highly plausible theory that Howard is simply joining the ranks of many athletes before him who name-dropped the Knicks to drive their price up and force other teams into action. Let’s ignore all of it.
Are we really here, again?
The last thing the Knicks need to focus on is blowing up their roster yet again, even if Howard is the one at stake.
The Magic are likely to want to unload Hedo Turkoglu’s contract in any deal, essentially meaning the Knicks must relinquish two of their three superstars to get the ball rolling.
Try as Orlando might to make one of those stars Carmelo Anthony, it simply isn’t happening. New York has invested too much time and too many assets into making him the face of the franchise.
That leaves Tyson Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Amar’e Stoudemire. Even with Stoudemire’s recent fall from grace, that’s a steep price to pay.
Of course, the Magic could continue their string of questionable decision making and opt for a package built around Chandler or Stoudemire and youth, but even that makes little sense for both parties.
For nearly a decade, the Knicks have had a revolving roster. Players came and went, games were won and lost, and each day, week, month and year, there was a different outside face to covet.
Such an approach was acceptable for awhile, because it was all in pursuit of building a contender. Now, however, it has become old, and borderline dangerous.
Expectations soared in New York over the past two seasons, yet the team failed to meet them. And though many chalk it up to an unfit dynamic, such conclusions cannot be drawn until a legitimate opportunity to develop cohesion presents itself.
That’s what the Knicks have now—a chance to finally fit the pieces of a roster and front office, that have been in a perpetual flux, together.
True championship hopefuls do not acquire or develop stars only to swap them out for different ones, they build around them.
The time for New York to assemble a foundation is over. It’s time to build upon the one they already have and establish a new precedent, one that promotes stability and not precariousness.
Regardless of Howard’s intentions, or lack thereof, the Knicks must remove themselves from the sweepstakes. They can ill afford to be goaded into this all-too familiar and seemingly unbearable territory.
“These are the days you dread in this business,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said leading into his justification behind Orlando’s decision to part ways with Van Gundy.
And he was right, in more ways than one, for more teams than one.
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ORLANDO, Fla. — There’s a chance Stan Van Gundy just coached his last game in the Amway Center as coach of the Orlando Magic.
But while he’s here, he’s coaching his tail off for the overmatched, undersized Magic — and his team nearly tied its series with the Indiana Pacers on Saturday thanks to a pivotal lineup adjustment and inspired play from a team with a built-in excuse to quit.
The Magic lost 101-99 in overtime after erasing a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit against a Pacers team they’re inferior to in almost every area, especially center, where Dwight Howard’s absence is felt on every Roy Hibbert hook shot, on every contested 3-pointer not opened up by Howard’s post presence.