Orlando Magic pull trigger on Gilbert Arenas trade.

Have you ever been watching a sporting event where your team is winning comfortably, you leave the room to grab a quick beverage, only to return and find your team down?

That’s kind of what happened with me and the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

When I left to work in the morning, Orlando had what appeared to be a pretty solid team.  Sure, they had lost a few games in a row but nobody, aside from their general manager, thought they couldn’t contend for the Eastern Conference Finals.

Later that afternoon, I found out Orlando had revamped its entire roster.  Starting two-guard.  Gone!  Starting forward.  Gone!  Back up center.  Gone!  Welcome to your new-look Magic.

In a nutshell, Orlando traded Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, a draft pick and a buttload of cash for Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark.

It wasn’t long ago that teams were trying to acquire big men to adjust to Dwight Howard.  Now it’s the Magic who are adjusting.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi recently wrote this team wasn’t winning a title as it was (previously) assembled.  I’m still not entirely convinced of that.  As a Magic fan, I was willing to give this roster one more shot.  But my name’s not Otis Smith.

Sure Vince Carter couldn’t cover a queen size bed with a king size blanket and Rashard Lewis was as inconsistent a scorer as he was a rebounder, but we knew this when we signed them.

If anything, Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson have proven to be equally as inconsistent as the players Orlando just traded away.  And they have over one hundred fewer games played with the big man in the middle.  Re-signing Hedo Turkoglu, who played well for the Magic two years ago, is like taking back the girl you kind of, sort of liked back in the day but still got rid of anyway.

Reactions among the SportsChump consiglieri are mixed.  Many tell me not to worry, that the Magic are better off after the move.  Others wonder what the heck Otis Smith was thinking.  At first glance, I’m inclined to side with the latter.  As an outsider, I’d like to know how much say Dwight had in these trades.  Was he consulted?  Was Van Gundy?  Did either have any hesitation in pulling the trigger to land a player most recently made famous for pulling a trigger?

I can’t help but wonder whether the Heat’s pre-season acquisitions and recent hot streak put pressure on Magic brass to keep up with the Joneses.  The Heat have now won 12 in a row.  The Celtics have won 13 straight.  Heck, even the Knicks have won 13 of 14.  The Magic have lost six of their last seven, but four of those losses came on the road and five of them were against playoff teams.  It’s the NBA.  Slumps happen.  Apparently so do blockbuster trades.

When it comes to the NBA, I’ve always been big on chemistry.  Teams that win titles have played together, lack drama and know each other’s tendencies.  Championship teams complement one another.  I’m not too sure the Magic haven’t taken a step backwards in that regard.

Either way, Stan Van Gundy has a whole bunch of new toys to play with this Christmas.  As a fan, I sure hope they’re easy to assemble.

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38 Replies to “Orlando Magic pull trigger on Gilbert Arenas trade.”

  1. If you’ve seen the Magic play in the last couple of seasons and compare it to this one, you would know (and feel) that the chemisty is gone. It died a slow death, not a sudden collapse, so the current losing streak is not the reason for the trades (I saw them play in Portland recently…what a meltdown). You can see the frustration on some faces, mostly SVG and DH and JN.. But more notably, what I saw was nonchalance. And that, my friend, is what we cannot allow as a contagion to chemisty! Time will tell if these new players will gel with the current players. And dang, I will miss Gortat, although he deserves a starting spot and will likely get it in PHX. My son and I saw Pietrus walking along Pioneer Square in Portland, and we asked him if he was going to light up the scoreboard wtih 3’s, and he said…”I don’t know.” Not, “You know I will” or “I’ll try my best.” Heck, I could’ve given that answer!

  2. OK, Elizabeth. So you made me feel only a slight bit better about the deal.

    But if the Magic were already losing that affection for the game, isn’t that coaching? Isn’t it Stan Van’s job to keep these guys motivated?

    Orlando was mowing people down in the pre-season, beating opponents by 20+. What happened to that? Did they just expect to sleepwalk through the regular season and into the playoffs?

    There’s too many good teams out there (C’s, Spurs, Mavs, Heat) for Orlando to just expect to be handed an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    My point about the deal is it sure was a gamble. To me, it just seemed reactionary. They basically disrupted the entire roster for some unproven pieces.

    This team will miss Gortat a helluva lot more than they know. And how many points are Gilbert and JRich gonna average? What about the rest of the roster?

    Lotsa question marks, Liz.

  3. When I first saw the trade, I thought it was an immediate upgrade all around. I’m not sure what Gilbert has left in his game since he hasn’t played much over the last couple of years, but he has showed flashes of his former self.

    I think Richardson was the best piece you got. He doesn’t need to dominate the ball to score which fits good in that system. Hedo is a risk, and you don’t really know what he’ll end up being, and it’s doubtful he’ll be what he was the first time around… I think I’d be happy to get rid of Vince and Rashard though. I was never a Pietrus fan, since he steps out of bounds so much, so all in all I don’t feel like you guys really lost players that were all that impressive in my book…

    I agree with you on the chemistry thing, but Richardson has played in enough places to fit right in. Hedo was there before, so the only one I think might struggle at first is Gilbert…

  4. Arenas should be very comfortable here in Florida, what with the lenient gun control laws and all. Where else is taking a gun to work encouraged.

  5. Being an NBA fan for over 50 years, I’ve always been intrigued by what teams do when things aren’t going right. Its so predictable. Either fire the coach or make some trades. But the one thing you almost NEVER see happening is firing the GM. This is the guy who ultimately assembles the team through trades and draft picks, yet the GM never really takes total responsibility. I’ve watched Otis Smith make some bonehead moves over the years. Stan Van Gundy, although not one of my favorite coaches, is not to blame for the mess in Orlando. It falls squarely on Otis Smith. This guy wouldn’t make it as a cub scout den mother. The most obvious decision was in not resigning Turkoglu. And signing Rashard Lewis to an outrageous contract, for a guy that had never been an all-star, was a super bone-headed move. Rashard never lived up to the dollars paid him. Signing Vince Carter, in my opinion was also a mistake. He has NEVER been a team player. trading Gortat was a mistake. The guy can play. And finally, trading for that piece of damaged goods, Gilbert Arenas is the show stopper right there. Want to make the Magic better? Get rid of Otis Smith and start all over. Hopefully, the team can get it done before Dwight Howard is getting by using a walker.

  6. Chap…

    As a Magic fan, I’m interested in more than flashes. On a good day, Gilbert and JRich can both score the basketball. On a bad day, Gilbert can destroy a locker room quicker than Terrell Owens.

    I know that Otis Smith is like a father figure to Arenas. I’m hoping that he can relight the Hibachi. If he can get anywhere close to 2005-06 form, I’ll take back what I said, but I have to see it to believe it.

    We’re 25 games in so these guys have three-quarters of a season to get it together.

    Best of luck, Stan Van.

  7. Needless to say, people.

    Snake was one of the members of the consiglieri who disapproved of the trade, although as a Celtics fan, he’s probably happier than a pig in shit.

    It’s too late to start all over, Snake, even though Dwight is only 25.

    Do you think Stan Van and Dwight both approved of these deals 100%?

  8. For further discussion, here’s a look at the number of the players in question:

    15 pts
    3 assts
    4 rebs
    47% fg

    12 pts
    4 rebs
    41% fg

    4 pts
    1 asst
    4 rebs
    54% fg

    17 ppg
    6 assts
    3 rebs
    39% fg

    19 ppg
    1 apg
    4 rpg
    47% fg

    9 ppg
    2 apg
    4 rpg
    44% fg

  9. I was a little shocked when I saw this trade but I must say that I as a Magic fan I will not miss Carter or Lewis a bit. I did love the defense of Pietrus and Gortat but neither was a starter and it appears they got 3 starters in return for two. My question is who plays the point and the answer may be another trade coming. Turk was great in blue the first time around and they have missed him alot. His scoring was good but his real value is that he got everyone involved and distributed the ball much like Scotty Pippin used to do with the Bulls. (disclaimer I am not saying he is Scotty or as good just saying he has some “point forward” in him). Nelson is a solid scorer but not the best with the assists so this could help in that area as will Arenas. The Magic were not going anywhere with the line up they had. In my opinion they were better without Carter. At least now they have a chance to try and switch it up. They lost a little defense and picked up alot of offense!

  10. I should also mention that I like the thought that Arenas has to prove himself all over again ala Mike “don’t let the puppies breath” Vick. He put up 31 against the Magic when they played earlier in the year. Looks like that was an audition. Going back to play for Smith, his mentor, could be just what the Dr. ordered.

  11. Weird thing about Hedo, Seth.

    He kind of became a cult figure in Orlando during their Finals run.

    Letting him go was a very unpopular move as most everybody credits his play for getting the Magic as far as they went. Their inability to duplicate that success is based almost solely on not re-signing him.

    People forget, however, that Rashard Lewis hit some pretty clutch shots during that run as well.

    Don’t get me wrong. 12 points per game is unacceptable for him. I think his game is WAY too timid. And as old and bad defensively as Carter is, I would liked to have given him one more shot to win a ring here.

    I’m just curious to see how SVG is going to manage these minutes (and personalities) and where and when he’s going to play them.

  12. I agree with most of your analysis: this is a desperate attempt to revamp a team that’s not in any trouble right now.

    Having said that, I still believe it’s the right time to get rid of the rapid declining Rashard Lewis. I totally get why Otis Smith wanted to trade Rashard for Gilbert, it’s the only deal available in the world.

    What I don’t get is why part way with Gortat, Carter and Pietrus? What have they done to deserve this? And is JRich + Hedo the best deal in town? I think Otis Smith pressed the panic button too quick on this one. It may proove to be his downfall at the season’s end.

  13. I definitely understand your skepticism but keep your hopes up – I’m optimistic that Arenas will bust his behind to make this work and that GM Otis Smith will recognize if Jason Richardson is worth more on the court or as a trade chip.

    VC and Lewis just weren’t cutting it anymore, I’m afraid.

    If it doesn’t work? The Magic are in deep trouble for the next few seasons.

  14. Chris,
    I’m only happy because the Celtics play the Magic in less than a week. Nor a lot of time to get the chemistry together. Yes, Dwight Howard had a very large say in these trades. I don’t really think that Van Gundy had any input at all. In fact, if SVG was suddenly fired, I would be inclined to believe that DH had a hand in it. I still maintain that the only weak link in the Magic organization is Otis Smith.

  15. Chap…

    As I mentioned on DW, it seems a little too early to be worried about whether Dwight Howard will re-sign in Orlando, doesn’t it? This team has proven they’re among one of the few in the league that is willing to do whatever it takes to do win, right moves or wrong.

    Now I’m hearing that the Magic aren’t done.

    Someone wake me when Otis Smith is done playing fantasy basketball with my favorite team. Who does he think he is? Steve Kerr?

    I was living in Orlando when Shaq left. It like a shockwave hit the city. I don’t know that losing Dwight will have quite the same effect but I do know a lot fewer people will be Magic fans if that sort of thing happens again.

  16. Pingback: Orlando Magic pull trigger on Gilbert Arenas trade., NBA | Hyping the Best Sports Blogs, News | BallHyped

  17. Chris

    Otis Smith and Miley Cyrus now have something in common . They’ve been hitting the bong way too much !

    tophatal ………. 😉

  18. Chris

    Arenas and Richardson if they don’t go on an ego trip could add something but I for one seriously doubt it !


    tophatal …………….. 😛

  19. I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Bianchi – this team had no chance of winning a title as currently constituted. And further, I don’t think they were one of the top three teams in the East either (Celtics, Bulls, Heat).

    I think this is a pretty clear-cut issue that I’ve addressed in the past when talking about ‘Melo: the Magic simply did not have a scorer who can take over a game with two minutes left. Every other title contender has AT LEAST one. Is this a knock on Dwight Howard?


    If your best player is ineffective at the end of tight games because he can’t make free throws (and, you know, isn’t a very polished offensive player in general), you can’t seriously expect to compete with the likes LeBron/DWade, Derrick Rose, or The Big 3, let alone the heavy hitters in the West.

    So even if you don’t like this trade, I personally don’t feel like “we tried to fix – and ended up breaking – what wasn’t broke to begin” is a valid reaction.

    I’m not sure if any team in NBA history has tried to build a champion around such an offensively limited big man (well, aside from the seminal Celts teams), and almost certain that no one’s succeeded without pairing said big man with a premier wing scorer. Howard is not Shaq, he’s not Duncan or Robinson, he’s not Hakeem, hell, he’s not even the best big among the the current group (Gasol).

    The question is now: did Orlando rectify any of their problems by adding the three players they did? Uh, no… although I don’t think it’s completely out of the question that Gil could become that guy if his knee ever heals.

    I still like the trade – you got an athletic swingman, and two legit, albeit past-their-primes scoring options. Plus, you unloaded the remains of Vince and the worst contract in the NBA (would’ve liked to keep Pietrus, though).

    Still not a contender in my opinion, and probably not a top 7 team either.

  20. Observer…

    Thanks for swinging by.

    I guess my point is this… and I’ll address Afro’s point shortly thereafter.

    When they signed Lewis to that max deal, they knew what they were getting. A power forward who’s really more a small forward. Why don’t we just call him that.

    When Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott were playing for this team, Scott was the forward simply because of his size, but not by the nature of his game. If anything, Anderson was the slasher and Scott wouldn’t have recognized the rim had it come over for Christmas dinner.

    I agree that getting rid of Lewis was a good move but only if you’re getting value in return and I’m not sure they did that.

    This team was a perimeter team with a big man in the middle before the trade and they’re a perimeter team with a big man in the middle AFTER the trade.

    They gave Howard NO rebounding help with this deal. If anything, they made it worse because now Bass will be getting LESS minutes to make up for everyone else that has to play.

    Ok, I’m done venting….. for now.

  21. Mark…

    That’s my point. If this DOESN’T work, then they’re screwed. Seems like an AWFULLY big gamble to me.

    And who will be to blame? Van Gundy? Otis? The players for playing so half-assed and forcing management to make a trade?

    They built this team a brand new stadium and they currently have the same record as the Knicks.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  22. Snake and Chap….


    I’m all for giving a superstar his say in any deal. But he’s NOT a GM and he’s NOT a talent scout.

    Dwight is back to pulling down 20 boards a game.

    You know why?

    Because nobody else on that team rebounds!

    That’s why his numbers are skewed.

    I was finally happy to see Brandon Bass get some minutes but as I mentioned in an earlier comment, he’ll be getting LESS playing time now, so the workload on Dwight will be even more cumbersome.

    I was actually impressed to see Jason Richardson crash the boards last night. They played Dallas well considering it’s only their second game together, but I’m still not buying it.

    It’s too early to beg cowtow to Dwight’s needs for fear of him leaving town in 2012. If he was the one responsible for this mess, then he should bear the brunt.

    I thought I was done venting but I guess I wasn’t. Sorry.

  23. Point/Counterpoint, Afro.

    Dwight’s offensive game is significantly better than it ever was. He can put up that soft hook with either hand now way better than he ever could.

    That being said, is it a money shot (did I just say money shot?) with the clock winding down? Would I be willing to bet a playoff series on it with seconds left in my season? Probably not.

    But they had guys like Lewis, Carter, Reddick and Nelson that are supposed to handle that or at least work it outside in. Remember, THIS team only had once chance to get it done. ONE.

    I think the team we formerly called the Magic, on its best day was better than the Bulls on their best day. And if GMs in the league are going to lose sleep at night trying to make moves to keep up with Wade and LeBron, I have news for them. They better import a player from another planet because that shit ain’t happening.

  24. Chris

    The Magic being 16-12 kind of like the pedophile recently extradicted here to Polk Co by Sherriff Grady Judd. I think that those are the numbers that this ped and Van Gundy can identify with.

    So Geno Auriemma still isn’t happy that his U Conn Huskies can’t get no love or respect ? Now he knows how Rodney Dangerfield felt .


    tophatal ………. 😉

  25. Al…

    I have the feeling this is just the first step, the beginning of the end for the Magic.


    Congrats to Geno on what I see as a pretty hefty accomplishment.

    Now only 150 more wins until they break Brett Favre’s streak.

  26. Chris I caught the last half of the third and all of the 4th Qtr against the Mavs last night. They look a little disjointed but now they have Arenas and JRich who can score when the game is on the line. Hedi instantly stepped into the aforementioned role of distributor and the team looked a little like they used to. Lots of guys in blue with something to prove. Thats never a bad thing.

  27. My problem with Hedo at point forward is that makes Jameer play closer to the basket and pushes one of the guards into the forward spot. They really don’t need that.

    It’s okay. Larry Brown will be coaching them soon.

  28. Tonight’s game was just a glimpse of what Magic fans have in store for the remainder of the season. A never ending supply of fire power.

    Even though I don’t think Turk has much left in the tank I love both deals. Otis deserves props. Magic weren’t going to win bupkus with that old roster and now they are in the conversation.

    p.s. I gave a lil’ love to your site in my last post. Come on over and check it out.

  29. Drew…

    Nice to see you, sir.

    You must be swamped. I imagine shopping for all of Shawn Kemp’s kids has kept you quite busy over the holidays.

    I hate to pee in your pinstripes, but I’m not buying the Gil-Aid just yet. Remind me the last NBA team that dismantled, then rebuilt itself, near mid-season to win a title and I’ll bite.

    And SportsChump mentioned on SKK? I don’t owe you alimony, do I?

  30. Chris

    There’s nothing new about the travails of the Magic . From one night to the next you never know what to expect concerning this team .

    Not even Van Gundy knows what to expect and that’s a fact !

    tophatal ……….

  31. Well, if that’s the case, Al, and SVG knew this might happen, then why didn’t he veto the trade?

    I guess the question is, who’s gonna be the first guy to take the fall when this team doesn’t win a title before Dwight Howard becomes a free agent? SVG or Otis Smith?

  32. Pingback: Sports Chump » Final thoughts on Magic-Hawks: Orlando’s regression, Dwight’s plight and how Las Vegas got it wrong

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