TrueHoop Network bloggers break down the impact of Saturday's Magic-centered blockbuster deals on their respective teams.
Entering the season, some of the biggest question marks for the Orlando Magic were shot creation and perimeter scoring. After a 16-9 start to the year, in which the Magic's offense ranked 14th in offensive efficiency, an inconvenient truth had been realized -- Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis weren't cutting it anymore.
Even though Carter was performing efficiently on offense for Orlando, when push comes to shove, he can't score at will like LeBron James, Paul Pierce, and other scorers of that ilk. Carter isn't the player he once was. As for Lewis, his numbers have fallen off a cliff this season and he looks like a shell of his former self on the offensive side of the ball. As such, there were many times when the Magic stagnated offensively and struggled to generate points on the perimeter. A tell-tale sign came during Orlando's recent four-game losing streak when, for the first time under head coach Stan Van Gundy's tenure, the team didn't score more than 85 points in three consecutive games. Coupled with the Magic playing with a lack of energy and effort on a consistent basis, and changes needed to be made.
Insert Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson into the equation. The expectation, when it comes down to it, is that Arenas, Turkoglu and Richardson address some glaring weaknesses for Orlando. The shot creation and perimeter scoring is there; now the Magic have to address their lack of frontcourt depth and size with the purge of Lewis and Marcin Gortat. Needless to say, it's likely that Magic president Otis Smith isn't done shaking up the roster. Will the changes be enough to overtake the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference? That remains to be seen. Van Gundy has a lot of work to do to assimilate Arenas, Turkoglu, and Richardson into Orlando's schemes collectively. Then there's the issue of figuring out whether or not the Magic sacrificed too much defense with these trades. The next couple of months should be real interesting.
-- Eddy Rivera, magicbasketball.net
The Phoenix Suns accomplished two major goals in Saturday’s trade with the Orlando Magic by adding much-needed quality size in Marcin Gortat and dumping the long-term contract of a piece that didn’t fit the system in Hedo Turkoglu. That’s certainly worth the lateral swap of Jason Richardson for Vince Carter at the 2-guard spot and losing a seldom-used project in Earl Clark, especially when the Suns get a 2011 first-rounder to boot.
If the Suns had any plans of competing in the Western Conference this season, the addition of a big man like Gortat was more a question of “when” than “if.” The Suns have gotten pounded on the boards all season, ranking No. 29 in rebound rate, and Gortat’s acquisition goes a long way toward solving Phoenix’s interior defense and rebounding issues.
This trade slightly increases salary commitments this year and next while providing flexibility thereafter, and the roster isn’t so lopsided with a dearth of productive big men anymore. The Suns also go 11 deep in quality with Mickael Pietrus so another deal isn’t out of the question. If Carter can provide the Suns with similar production to Richardson, then the Suns may have just improved in the present while eliminating Turkoglu’s albatross of a contract from their future.
-- Michael Schwartz, valleyofthesuns.com
In his news conference regarding the trade, Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld spoke of the opportunity that presented itself. “Opportunities don’t come along that often in the NBA,” Grunfeld said. He later countered with, “People in this league will always want talented players, and Gilbert is a talented player.” That “always” for Arenas was evidently a closing window Grunfeld had to jump through on Dec. 18, almost two months before the NBA’s trade deadline. So why the urgency?
“If you wait too long, something disappears, you might not have anything,” Grunfeld said when asked about the timing of this specific opportunity. The man in charge of rebuilding the Wizards according to Ted Leonsis’ plan earlier claimed that Orlando, “was the first team that aggressively wanted to make some changes.” As you can see, Grunfeld is hard to read. Opportunities evidently don’t always come up for players whose talent people will always want while Orlando was the first team that wanted to do something. Just a tad contradictory, I’d say.
But for Grunfeld, the exchange was all about his personal perfect storm. Moving on past the Gilbert Arenas saga? Check. Save a little money? Check to the tune of at least $24 million. Get a player presumed to be a better fit with John Wall as a stretch four who can open up the court? Check, theoretically.
Unfortunately in Lewis, Grunfeld adds another soft big man to a stable already with plenty to spare in that department (when the announced plan of the team has been to get tougher). He also further maligns a fan base already disenchanted with his seven-year tenure running the basketball operations of the team. Fans hoped for a return to the old Arenas, but seem content that it was time for him to go. But for now, as franchise savior John Wall misses his tenth of only 25 games on the year, only getting a slightly less bad contract for the bad contract of a fan favorite seems harder to sell than a consensus on health care in Congress.
-- Kyle Weidie, truthaboutit.net