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.
A friend just directed my attention to a great video he came across on YouTube. There’s such a thing as getting caught up in the moment during an intense part of a game or getting carried away with your celebrating, but at what point does a teammate get pissed off? I understand Jameer Nelson is a starter and one of the most important players on the Orlando Magic, but does that mean he gets to smack the bench players in the mouth when he gets excited? Fast forward to about the 50-second mark in this video if you’re interested in seeing Jameer Nelson smack his own teammate in the mouth after hitting back-to-back three pointers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The best part is Nelson just carries on like he didn’t even do it. No extension of the hand to indicate it was a mistake. No “my bad” type moment between teammates. It seems as though he’s either too in the zone to realize, or he’s taking the stance of, “I’m a superstar, you’re a bench player, you got smacked in the mouth — deal with it.” The shots were no question huge, and they helped prevent the Magic from being swept. While I’m sure he was going for the hand and missed, would it kill him to acknowledge that he just clubbed his own teammate? I know, I don’t understand what it’s like to hit a big three in an NBA game. In any event, this is one of those clips I find myself watching over and over again.
Video Credit: YouTube user rudythetech
If Orlando Magic guard Jason Williams took chasing down loose balls half as seriously as he takes reporters crowding his space, he may have prevented Rajon Rondo from making him look like a fool during Game 3. I’m sure he was plenty frustrated after the Celtics embarrassed he and his team on Saturday night, and I guess you could say it showed. What really managed to shine through is how much of a white trash thug Williams is. Check out the video of Jason Williams going off on reporters after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, courtesy of Sports by Brooks.
Note to Jason Williams: Try not to let opposing players make you look like an idiot during a playoff game, and reporters will have no desire to ask you any questions. You certainly aren’t going to affect the outcome of a game in such a positive way that writers and reporters will be itching to question you after it.
“Don’t get smart, Buzz”? Or else what? I almost feel bad for Matt Barnes for having a locker next to this guy after seeing this.
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Often times when things are going incredibly well for one team and painfully terrible for another in a playoff series, there are one or two defining moments that we’ll look back on as a microcosm for the entire series. When the Celtics dominated the Magic last night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals to take a 3-0 lead over Orlando, Rajon Rondo provided us with one of those moments. Check out the video of Rajon Rondo beating Jason Williams to a loose ball and laying it in, courtesy of YouTube user NBARauf:
It’s pretty rare that you can declare a basketball game over at the beginning of the second quarter, but this play was one that showed everyone which team wanted it more. Yes, Rajon Rondo is much faster than Jason Williams. That doesn’t excuse a lack of hustle, and after getting a three-foot head start to chase down the loose ball Williams was completely blindsided by Rondo’s speed and determination. Not only did he not hit the floor to fight for the loose ball; he didn’t even try to contest the lay-up or commit a foul to prevent the easy two. You would think after all the buzz surrounding Paul Pierce’s twitter and his post-game comments that Orlando would at least go down with a fight if they were going to lose again. Aside from Matt Barnes’ cheap shot on Kevin Garnett that caused his own coach to get flattened, the Magic showed no sign of life for 48 minutes. They’re on the verge of going home and they don’t even seem to care.
Video Credit: YouTube user NBARauf
I know exactly what people will say, a championship’s a championship and you can’t knock that. I’m not even one of the people that complained about the Lakers going seven with the Rockets who were seemingly decimated by injuries — winning is winning, end of story. But here’s where I’m left unsatisfied by the 2009 NBA Finals: It was hard watching the Magic choke away two victories in hand and thinking the Lakers beat them those games, and it’s hard seeing Kobe Bryant win the NBA Finals MVP award for the first time ever when he wasn’t playing his best basketball.
The history books write the story and the 15 total championships, 10 rings for Phil, and four each for Derek Fisher and Kobe will be mostly what everyone remembers. But when I look back on the Finals, I’ll think of the Courtney Lee missed layup, the Dwight Howard missed free throws, and the poor strategy of letting Fisher shoot the three in Game 4. Orlando literally gave two games away when they should have been up 3-1. They talked about not just “being happy to be here” and they weren’t — they were in position to seize the series and they choked it away. Still, in order for a choke to occur, someone has to step up to get the wins and the Lakers did that (Gasol in both OTs and Fisher’s big shots in Game 4).
Who knows if the Lakers will be back — they’ll need a new point guard, a new coach, and either a replacement for Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza in all likelihood. The Magic seem willing to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu, but he might find more enticing offers elsewhere. Denver will have another year together, Boston will get KG back, Cleveland could get Shaq, the Rockets might be healthier and tougher, and most of the playoff teams will be hungrier. It won’t be easy for either LA or Orlando to get back to the Finals again. That’s why what the Lakers accomplished seemed almost fated; if it wasn’t this year, then when? For the Magic, the answer isn’t as simple. They’ll have Dwight Howard who’s one of the most dominant players in the game, but they’ll have stiff competition in the Eastern Conference for years to come. They just pissed away a brilliant opportunity.