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2010-11 NBA Season Preview: Orlando Magic

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Orlando Magic (Last Year: 59-23)

C: Dwight Howard/Marcin Gortat/Daniel Orton

PF: Rashard Lewis/Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson/Malik Allen

SF: Quentin Richardson/Mickael Pietrus

SG: Vince Carter/J.J. Redick

PG: Jameer Nelson/Chris Duhon/Jason Williams

Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy (4th season)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $94.5 million

Off-Season Grade: B-
With the second-highest payroll in the NBA, the Magic had little wiggle room this off-season. They split their mid-level exception on veterans Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon. Richardson is a great value for a player who will likely end up being the team's starting small forward. Duhon adds more experience in the backcourt behind Jameer Nelson and will provide stability alongside the re-signed Jason Williams.

Orlando also matched the Bulls' offer sheet for restricted free agent J.J. Redick. It was a fairly pricey contract, but the former Dukie is coming off a career year in which he really found his niche with the team.

2010-2011 Outlook:
The Eastern Conference figures to be a three-horse race. Miami and Boston are the favorites, but Orlando has made it to the conference finals in each of the past two seasons and will once again be in the mix.

Orlando's rising superstar Dwight Howard saw his numbers dip a little bit as he got less touches which is not surprising since Vince Carter joined the team. Howard might be the most dominant big man in the league around the rim. If he can ever expand his game and become more of a threat 12-15 feet from the basket, he would be scary good. Until then, he is what he is; an athletic big man who thrives on dunks, putbacks and his outstanding athleticism.

With Howard patrolling the paint, Orlando needs veterans Carter and Rashard Lewis to be more effective on the perimeter. Carter is the final guaranteed year of his contract and might be playing a little harder this season so he can cash in next summer. Lewis is coming off his worst season in a decade and is easily one of the most overpaid players in the league as he will make a cool $19.5 million this season. He needs to bounce back if the Magic hope to knock off the Heat or Celtics.

The injury-prone Jameer Nelson is back to run the point. The Magic were wise this offseason in adding Duhon and re-signing Williams to add more depth and stability at the one since Nelson can never stay healthy.

Redick, Richardson and Mikael Pietrus will all battle for minutes on the wing and each bring something different to the table. Ryan Anderson, Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass add depth up front. Bass could be an x-factor for Orlando after struggling to acclimate himself to his new team last season.

Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
The Magic hold an $18 million team option on the final year of Vince Carter's contract. There is no way they will exercise that option as Carter is clearly not worth that much money. However, even if Carter's contract comes off the books, the Magic will still be way over the cap.

Their options will be to suck up the contract in fear of him leaving and Orlando not having the cap space to find a suitable replacement unless they used their mid-level. The other is hope is passing on the option, but still trying to re-sign Carter for a more reasonable deal or even try to work and sign-and-trade with another team.

2010-2011 NBA Power Ranking: 4th

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
All other e-mail, including advertising and link proposals, send to:

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