Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Crystal ball: In the end, does it work out for Gilbert Arenas and the Magic? For either?
David Aldridge: Yes. And yes. Whatever Gilbert has left in the tank, it will come out in Orlando, because a) Otis Smith is the one person that can cut through Gil’s BS and motivate the person inside, and b) Arenas will get more open looks off of Dwight Howard in the next six weeks than he got in six years in D.C. I still don’t think Orlando can beat Boston (the Magic is much worse defensively now than before all the trades, though Jason Richardson will give an honest effort on D, I think), but it matches up much better now with Miami than it did before. Clock’s still ticking on Howard staying in Florida, though.
Steve Aschburner: Does it “work out?” Define that please. … Waiting. … OK, fine, by my definition, the answer is no. I cannot see Orlando getting out of the East now anymore than I could when the season began. Don’t like the style, now don’t like the size and depth. As for Arenas, things were always going to “work out” for him as long as the checks cashed. But he shirked his responsibilities in Washington and good ends (or at least the best ends) don’t come to people who do that. Get out of D.C., get paid and get a trip to the Finals, with a stage to again be Gilbert? Not happening. Heck, he might break down.
Fran Blinebury: By working out, if you mean getting to the NBA Finals this season, no. I still think the Magic are behind the Celtics and the Heat in the Eastern pecking order, though they’ve closed the gap. But they had to do something. The old lineup wasn’t working anymore and a change was necessary. Nobody needed a change more than Arenas to get his mojo back. But I’m not expecting the return of Agent Zero any time soon.
Art Garcia: Getting out of D.C. is a success in itself for Gil. Landing with a contender and a GM that understands you (Otis Smith) is a double bonus. Now what working out means for the Magic is unclear. Orlando is clearly a notch below the Celtics and Heat at this point, though so much of the season remains that it’s impossible to count the 2009 East champs out. I don’t think the Magic make a return to the Finals, but it’s a better team than before the roster revamp.
Scott Howard-Cooper: It works out for Arenas in that he gets a desperately needed new start and he spends the rest of the season free of controversy. But that he becomes a much better shooter by April and makes a big difference, a huge-contract difference, for the Magic? No.
Shaun Powell: How do we define “work out well?” Meaning, Arenas doesn’t do something silly and avoids being put in a headlock by Dwight Howard? Well, no, I suspect that won’t happen. Just the same, we’ve already seen the best of Arenas. The 2006-07 player who averaged 28 points and was a pest defensively isn’t walking through that door. The issue is whether Arenas can flourish being the 3rd and sometimes 4th option, and I vote no. He needs the ball.
John Schuhmann: For Gilbert, yes. He no longer has the burden of trying to make up for his mistakes in Washington and he’s going to enjoy more team success with the Magic than he did with the Wizards. For the Magic, probably not. They’re a great team, but it will be tough for them to win a championship. We’ll have to see what Dwight Howard does in 2012, but even if he stays, they’ve handcuffed themselves a bit with the salaries they took on in the trade.
Sekou Smith: Fleeing Washington for a Eastern Conference contender is Gil’ biggest victory to date. The Magic needed an infusion of energy and confidence that Gil brings in abundance. After some initial reservations, it’s clear that the Magic have the makings of a team that could upset some plans in the playoffs, depending on the matchups. Ultimately, this works for Gilbert and the Magic. And not because they’re all of a sudden a favorites to win the East (they are not) or they found the missing pieces to their championship puzzle. It works out because both Gil and the Magic get the fresh start they so desperately needed.