Yesterday, the Orlando Magic traded Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, and Mickael Pietrus to the Suns for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark and then sent Rashard Lewis to the Wizards for Gilbert Arenas. As an ardent Magic fan, I can’t help but comment on these trades and voice my displeasure at what Otis Smith has done.
My main beef with these moves is they don’t make us better. We haven’t played well since that stomach virus took out half of our rotation, but we’re still one of the top teams in the East and there’s no need to panic when we’ve been successful with the same core for several years now. In fact, the only trade I would’ve made is for another top 10 player like Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony. A massive shakeup like this mid-season is risky for chemistry and team unity. It also makes no sense financially because VC’s contract is not guaranteed next year and we’re getting the awful contracts of Turkoglu and Arenas in return.
If it was just the Suns trade, I still wouldn’t be thrilled but at least I’d be okay with it. Straight up Richardson is an upgrade over VC and they do a lot of the same things. There’s some reason to believe that Turkoglu can play like he did two years ago with Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard again so it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Aside from the financial implications, my only concern is throwing Gortat in the deal. We’re really thin at center right now behind Howard and completely screwed if he gets hurt or into foul trouble.
My bigger problem is with the Wizards trade. Gun incident aside, I’m not a fan of Arenas as a basketball player. To me, he’s never been more than a poor man’s Allen Iverson. He scores a lot, but doesn’t make his teammates better and takes too many bad shots. Position-wise he’s a poor fit for this team. Jameer is definitely our starting PG and Arenas isn’t good enough of a shooter to be our starting SG. I guess I can see him as a sixth man, but we’re still paying him too much. Plus he had that injury a few years ago that’s hurt his athleticism. I just can’t see him being a contributor when he couldn’t be effective next to John Wall in Washington. While Lewis has been playing horribly this year and I always thought he was overplayed, at least he can be a mismatch on offense and stretch the floor.
Most importantly, the trades do nothing to address the main reason for the Magic’s recent slide: poor defense. None of these guys are good defenders whereas we gave up Mickael Pietrus who did a solid job against Lebron and Kobe in the playoffs. In fact I’m worried that we’ve traded or let go of defenders like Courtney Lee and Matt Barnes these last few years and replaced them with mediocre shooters. I don’t know who’s going to guard Lebron, Wade, Pierce or Allen in the playoffs. I also want to see us get a backup center preferably by trading Quentin Richardson or Chris Duhon if we want any chance against the Celtics or Lakers.
Overall I’m not a fan of the new look Magic. They might be a fun team in NBA Live, but there’s not enough size and defense for a real playoff run. I completely agree with Bill Simmons’ assessment of what Orlando should’ve done. But hey maybe Arenas will turn his game around. I wasn’t a fan of the Vick signing either but it’s worked out (for the most part) since then.