Whenever former coach and current analyst Jeff Van Gundy talks about the Orlando Magic, we pay extra close attention. Van Gundy’s brother is Stan Van Gundy who is the head coach at Orlando. Not only does Jeff speak honestly when providing analysis, but we figure his words reflect the thoughts of his brother when he talks about the Magic. As Orlando was getting ready to make its second round pick Thursday night at the draft, Jeff Van Gundy provided the following analysis of the team:
“They’ve gotten older, Rashard Lewis got older,” Van Gundy said. “Turkoglu in his second turn back did not play real well. They’ve had some injuries and some turnover. They’ve just have a lot of age creep in. I just think they have to get their chemistry right again. Clowns kill chemistry and they’ve got to get serious minded professionals who come ready to play every single night.”
It was the last part of his remarks that caught my attention. He’s saying that chemistry is a problem with the Magic that needs to be fixed. When he talks about clowns on the team, there’s only one person that comes to mind: Gilbert Arenas. Arenas is the same guy who talked about faking an injury to avoid being booed, and who recently live-tweeted a blind date gone wrong. Gilbert tried to change his persona and become all business last year but now he’s back to being a joker.
Now Van Gundy could be talking about newcomers like Jason or Quentin Richardson with his remark, but I’m pretty sure Arenas is in the group too. He got traded to Orlando mid-season and has a reputation as a clown. I’m guessing that Dwight Howard’s plea to have Gilbert play more won’t come to fruition after hearing this.
While many NFL players and teams have turned to MMA training in the offseason, the Orlando Magic are recommending its players take up boxing. The team’s strength and conditioning coach Joe Rogowski “endorses the boxing workouts because they improve the players’ stamina, balance and mental toughness.” To see the type of workouts the players are put through, check out this video of Ryan Anderson training with Todd Drespling at Gym Rat Boxing and Fitness:
In addition to Anderson, Gilbert Arenas, Brandon Bass, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon have incorporated boxing into their training regimen. Earlier this month, Arenas posted a nearly 15-minute long video of him training. Check it out:
Like so many of you, I didn’t stick around to watch the ending of Game 5 between the Magic and Hawks Tuesday night. The game was a blowout from the start and there were far more interesting things to watch, such as the Bruins-Canadiens or Bulls-Pacers. But LBS contributor Arsen was watching the ending and informed us that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy pulled a Randy Moss (or Mark Cuban) and left the floor before the game ended. Here is the video:
That to me was more controversial than Van Gundy’s press conference which has received a good amount of attention. When I saw the post-game press conference in which SVG said nobody liked the media, I laughed but didn’t think much else because that’s typical behavior for him. So what do you make of Van Gundy leaving the floor early? Was it rude and disrespectful?
As much as I’m inclined to agree, the endings to games go on entirely too long. Not only that, but fouling at the end of games gets somewhat out of hand, so if that was his way of protesting, I understand. I’m not endorsing the behavior, but I don’t think it was terrible.
It was only two years ago when the Orlando Magic had reached the NBA Finals before deciding they had done enough for the season and laid down at the hands of the Lakers. That team had a lethal combination of the most dominant big man in the game, and a slew of shooters knocking down threes from the outside. Though the three-point shooting style of the Magic made them a frustrating team from game-to-game because their performance fluctuated, they were a talented bunch who went far in the postseason. The team’s run to the Finals seemed to signify they were bound to be a consistent force in the Eastern Conference for the next several years, but that all ended quickly.
Hedo Turkoglu, who fit in perfectly with their offense as a 6’10” forward who could run the point and shoot threes, decided to leave in free agency. The Magic made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without him last season, but they were outclassed by the Celtics falling behind 3-0 before losing in six. Turkoglu meanwhile flopped harder than a Duke player in March during his only season in Toronto, forced a trade to Phoenix, and then he was dealt to Orlando in a blockbuster deal that also involved Jason Richardson.
What we’ve come to learn is that teams that need to overhaul their roster midseason are already in poor shape so making huge trades likely won’t be enough. What we’ve also learned is that the Magic fell behind the Bulls and Heat who both improved drastically over the offseason. Most importantly, we’ve learned that Hedo Turkoglu isn’t half as effective as he was two seasons ago, and the Magic are paying the price.
Howard led the NBA with 66 double-doubles, ranked second in rebounds (14.1 rpg) and fourth in blocks (2.38 bpg). Overall, his impact is hard to quantify into a single stat like P.E.R. because some aspects of defense just aren’t quantifiable. But the eyeball test tells us that Dwight is nothing short of a beast in the middle. His 3rd DPoY award is the 3rd most all-time, behind the four both Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo won. And the way things are looking, Dwight might win five or six by the time his career is all said and done.
While the voting wasn’t unanimous, it was oblongly lopsided. Dwight received 585 points with 114 first-place votes out of a 120 possible. Five sportswriters gave him 2nd place votes and one inexplicably left him off of their ballot. While I won’t defend that one person, I will admit that there are some people, including myself, who don’t see Dwight as the bar-none best defensive player in the league.
The Orlando Magic had a very, very special guest on hand Friday night when they demolished the Raptors. Dwight Howard and the boys brought their A-game and cruised to a 112-72 victory over Toronto. If Carlton Banks from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air was watching me play, I’d give it my all too. Alfonso Ribeiro brought those of us who are in our 20s right back to our childhood when he busted out with The Carlton Dance in the third quarter. Check out the video, courtesy of The Big Lead:
Does anyone else have Tom Jones stuck in their head after watching this?
The Boston Celtics have won a championship and been to the NBA Finals two times in the past three seasons, but Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith doesn’t seem to think toughness is the reason they got there. When Kevin Garnett is healthy, Boston has had one of the best defenses in the NBA since 2007, but according to Smith even the weak can accomplish that feat.
As you know, the Celtics defeated the Magic on Monday night thanks in large part to the return of K.G., who had a crucial steal late in the game. Again, Smith is not impressed. When the Orlando Sentinel asked the Magic GM if his team was tougher at this stage in the season than they were before, he said “tough is relative,” prompting the reporter to bring up the team that beat Orlando on Monday — the Celtics.
“They act tough,” Smith said. “They’re not really tough. They act tough.”
Interesting thoughts from a front office member whose team was dominated by Boston in the playoffs last season. Orlando handled the Green on Christmas Day, but the Celtics have generally gotten the best of them over the past three seasons when healthy. Maybe he doesn’t like Boston, but you can’t say they aren’t a tough team. You can disagree with some of Garnett’s antics and the way they go about their business, but you don’t accomplish what Boston has accomplished and play the kind of defense they’ve played over the past three-plus seasons without being tough.
The Orlando Magic were dominating the NBA to begin the season, and then December came. Something has gone wrong for the Magic lately, and it has resulted in five losses over the last six games. We’ve known for a while that the Magic were interested in acquiring Gilbert Arenas, but we didn’t know they were going to blow up their roster to make it happen.
Pro Basketball Talk called our attention to a lot of dealing the Magic did on Saturday. First, Orlando sent Vince Carter, Mikael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark. When that deal was finished, the Magic then traded Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards to get their boy Gilbert Arenas.
It would appear the Gilbert Arenas-to-Orlando talk is back on. It’s been no secret that the Magic are looking to make a trade. They know that in order to get past teams like the Celtics and Heat in the Eastern Conference, they’ll need someone who can consistently put the ball in the basket. Will they give Arenas a shot to be that guy?
According to Orlando Pinstriped Post, via J.E. Skeet’s Twitter, the Magic and Wizards are once again discussing a possible swap that includes the troubled Washington guard — who has a recent history of knee issues. Arenas is owed more than $60 million over the next three seasons, and after the gun incident and all the discplinary problems surrounding him it has become clear the Wizards are trying to phase Agent Zero out. The first step, of course, was drafting John Wall with the first overall pick in the draft. The next could be getting something in return for Arenas.
According to the report, the only name that is off-limits in discussions is Dwight Howard. Any deal would likely involve Vince Carter — who could bring a veteran presence to the Wizards and help mentor John Wall — and could include Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, or Daniel Orton. Both teams reportedly understand what the other side would need to complete the deal.
As OPP points out, the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier in the week that the Magic are “willing to take a step back” by making a trade if it would improve their team for the long term. With his age (28) and history of knee problems, I don’t really see how Arenas and his massive contract would be the solution.
Rashard Lewis has been a complete no-show through four games of the Eastern Conference Finals. To say Orlando‘s highest paid player has been horrible would be an understatement. Through four games, Lewis is 29% shooting overall and 18% from beyond the arc. He has averaged 7.0 points, a number that would be lower if not for his 13-point performance in Game 4 — his best of the series. The lock-down defense being played by the Celtics hasn’t helped, but Lewis has been especially bad.
Blogs, newspapers, radio stations, and any other media outlets that deal with sports have crucified Lewis non-stop for over a week. Apparently he has a reason for his poor play — a seemingly good one at that. The forward disclosed today that he has been sick throughout the entire series with a viral infection. Here’s what the Magic superstar had to say about being under the weather:
Overall it effects you. I’ve been throwing up. I haven’t been at full strength. I’ve been feeling weak, my legs been feeling weak. I find myself getting tired very fast in the first quarter. You know, when you can’t hold food down you have no energy in your body to go out there and perform. Regular season, I probably would have sat out. Not to make no excuses, it is the playoffs. You just got to go out there and give it 110 percent. It’s the playoffs. I’ve got to drag myself out there if anything.
Nobody likes a cry-baby, and that’s probably why Lewis waited so long to share this with the public. However, I’m not sure it would have hurt his image to come out with it a while ago. It’s a pretty legit excuse, and disclosing it before you stink out the building for four straight games wouldn’t be a bad idea in my opinion. Regardless, he chose to wait until the day of Game 5 to let people know. We’ll have to wait and see how it affects the way Stan Van Gundy uses him — if at all.