HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When my man Dr. Geek (of BluBlockers fame, yeah that’s the same dude) ripped through this rap before Game 3 of the 2009 NBA Finals he probably figured he’d serve as the hype man for a Magic team that would contend for championships until Dwight Howard got tired of chasing them.
Some 18 months later and that Magic team that seemed poised to be a power in the Eastern Conference, and the league, for years to come is on the verge of being dismantled completely.
If the trade chatter surrounding the Magic is legitimate, TNT’s David Aldridge says it is, then the Magic’s act is almost officially over. Magic GM Otis Smith is gutting the roster and starting fresh, hoping that Gilbert Arenas and perhaps even old friend Hedo Turkoglu, per reports from both DA and ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, can help get this team going after a dismal (certainly by their own recent standards) start to this season.
Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter, along with a few others, could be on their way out of town for an Arenas/Turkoglu/Jason Richardson concoction that isn’t any better suited to challenge the Celtics and Heat in the Eastern Conference right now than they were when this season began.
Make no mistake, the Magic got exposed in the Eastern Conference finals last season by the Celtics. But instead of retooling their own roster in the biggest free agent summer in years, and perhaps ever, the Magic sat on the sidelines poking fun at their Sunshine state rivals in Miami.
Smith was particularly critical of LeBron James for bolting from Cleveland and joining Dwyane Wade on a Heat team that the Magic didn’t think was on their level (though, in hindsight all of this yapping might have been an indication of just how worried they were). Clearly, the Magic should have been worrying about their own team. They split their meetings with the Heat so far this season, but the Heat have moved on from that so-called rivalry to win 11 straight games, trailing only the Celtics (winners of 12 straight) in the standings.
The Magic, meanwhile, have been running in place for weeks, playing .500 basketball the last 10 games after leading the Southeast Division the first month of the season. Losers of five of their last six games and clearly not clicking the way anyone imagined they would, Smith decided to kick off what could be another wild round of major moves as we head toward the February trade deadline.
Anyone interested in competing in the East needs to take good look at what they’ve got and make sure it’s what they need to keep the pace (the Hawks are the only other team hovering around the top bunch that has yet to make a significant move).
The Magic, wisely, decided not to wait to get started.