Magic preparing for all scenarios
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The ongoing saga about whether Magic center Dwight Howard's days in Orlando are numbered isn't going away anytime soon.
In the meantime, his teammates are preparing themselves to play an NBA season, with or without him.
Howard didn't address the media after Tuesday's practice, but one of the Magic's new additions -- former Boston forward Glen Davis -- did have some parting shots afterwards for rookies Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins.
"They gotta look up the definition of family," Davis said of some homework he gave them in the team huddle at the end of practice.
Asked about why he issued the assignment, Davis -- a product of the motivational tactic-rich environment under Celtics' coach Doc Rivers -- said it's never too early to start laying the groundwork when it comes to team building.
"Just basically get it in everybody's mind what family means," Davis said. "We gotta start walking the way toward a family atmosphere and trying to change the culture here and making sure we're there for each other. So, you know, the rookies gotta do a little homework."
Davis and shooting guard Von Wafer participated in their first practice Tuesday since Magic completed a trade with Boston that sent Brandon Bass to the Celtics. Guard Jason Richardson was also in a practice uniform for the first time since his brief time as a free agent ended with him re-signing with the team that traded for him last season.
Richardson called the decision to re-sign a tough one, but said that even after one workout that he has no doubts that it was a good one.
"It definitely is the right spot for me," Richardson said. "I had a decision to make. The first time in my career I was a free agent, you know there is uncertainty with Dwight -- is he staying or is he going? That situation played a part of it.
"But looking at the guys on this team, the coaching staff, this organization, the fans -- I thought it was the best place for me. I think I made a great decision."
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said while he understands there will be uncertainty until the Howard situation is resolved, he's preparing in practice as if the roster they have right now is what they'll have when they open the regular season Christmas night at Oklahoma City.
Van Gundy said he definitely lobbied this offseason for management to find a way to bring Richardson back and that it adds some stability to the shooting guard spot.
He said that he doesn't think he utilized Richardson like he should have in the 55 games he played with the Magic last season. Richardson still averaged 13.9 points per game and even played the tail end of Orlando's opening round playoff loss to Atlanta on a tender left foot after a home accident ended with him getting seven stitches in it.
"I tell you what, I think he'll be better because he'll be more comfortable," Van Gundy said. "I think he'll also be better because we'll give him more opportunities."
Richardson plans to be more active this year.
"Oh yeah, I can do a lot more," Richardson said. "I felt last year, even myself, I stood around looked too much. I know I'm a pretty good 3-point shooter, but there's more to my game than just shooting the ball. So I take a lot of that on myself ... I think I can contribute a lot more to this team."
In regards to Davis, Van Gundy said he's always liked his game from afar and having seen him battle underneath the basket in a pair of recent playoff battles with the Magic, he thought adding his presence would bring a lot to the lineup.
"I think he is a guy who will help the other players play better, at both ends of the floor," Van Gundy said. "On the defensive end he's very smart, he's ahead of the play, he's a very good team defender and he's constantly talking.
"On offense, he really knows how to play the game, he moves the ball and he is a great, great screener."
Van Gundy said he could see the 6-foot-9, 290-pounder as both a power forward playing alongside Howard as a starter and as someone to relieve him off the bench at center.
That means the Magic will likely be looking for another big body to add to the roster at some point, but Van Gundy said that out of the gate he would be comfortable playing Davis and forward Ryan Anderson together if Dwight isn't in the game.
Davis said the technical stuff will come down the road, but for now it's all about building that championship culture.
"I've been there when we won, and I've been there when we lost," Davis said. "I know how that feels and I know what it takes. And I'm willing to sacrifice myself and everything to bring that here."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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