HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Orlando is fantasy land, where magic happens.
We get it.
But that’s no reason for anyone there to believe in magic or the make-believe required to believe in such things. The fallout from Dwight Howard‘s departure from Orlando and the Magic has apparently driven folks into fantasy mode. It happens when a franchise and its fan base are dealing with Post-Traumatic Superstar-Departure Syndrome.
Even our main man and friend of HT, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, is thinking outside the realm of reality in terms of the Magic’s free agent future:
Are the Magic looking to hook perhaps the NBA’s biggest fish four years from now?
Yes, it’s difficult for fans to even digest how long a wait that might be.
But wouldn’t the wait for Kevin Durant be worth it?
Now the knee-jerk reaction might be this: Durant? Durant isn’t the kind of kid who would ever abandon Oklahoma City as a free agent (after the 2015-16 season.) He’s the leader of a great, young team now. And surely, the Thunder aren’t about to let him get away.
Absolutely right. But we’ll play along, just to see what kind of rabbit you plan on pulling out of this hat:
People and circumstances change.
Who envisioned Miami striking up a band called The Heatles? Or New Jersey — New Jersey! – being relevant again?
Magic fans know how quickly things can change. Once again, they must stomach seeing another superstar center (Dwight Howard) in a Lakers’ uniform.
No one predicted the Dwightmare coming. No one saw Howard going from a kid who loved being Orlando’s ambassador to a big-market mercenary.
If Durant doesn’t fancy himself as a big-city guy, wouldn’t Orlando make sense? Retooling mostly through the draft, the Magic could have young pieces in place by then, if GM Rob Hennigan has his way.
Hennigan isn’t opposed to signing free agents — and the Magic have a history of spending money to grab them. But the new GM doesn’t seem as if he’ll ridiculously overpay for any…unless it’s a superstar package of talent and humility like Durant.
There’s no doubt Durant loves the rims in that shiny new arena in Orlando (check the video from All-Star Weekend 2012 above). And Schmitz is right, everything can change in an instant.
Take the players on U.S. Men’s Senior National Team the past five years for example. Only three (Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Tayshaun Prince) of the 12 players who won gold in Beijing in 2008 are wearing the same uniform today. And that’s a group that includes LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, four of the five guys who returned to defend their Olympic title in London.
(Howard, Chris Bosh, Jason Kidd, Carlos Boozer and Michael Redd were all on that 2008 team as well, and have since changed addresses — some more than once.)
When asked in London if he was surprised at all by the massive turnover that has gone on since Beijing, Williams gave perhaps the most telling answer.
“Surprised? Not at all,” he said. “Things change. It’s just a part of the game. And you have to deal with it and move on.”
That doesn’t mean that Magic fans should spend the next couple of years pining away for Durant or any other superstar who might be available in free agency in 2014 … 2015 … or 2016 (which is already being dubbed the “Summer of Durant”).
Wishful thinking like that won’t help the Magic in the meantime. It’ll only serve to make these rebuilding years even more painful, especially when the magic trick ends and they realize that it was all make-believe anyway.