2011 NBA Offseason: Orlando Magic

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Orlando Magic (Last Year: 50-32)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

Orlando must have really liked Justin Harper to trade a pair of second-rounders to add the 6-9 power forward who can stretch defenses with his ability to shoot the rock. He should add some depth in the frontcourt while DeAndre Liggins will give the Magic insurance at shooting guard with Jason Richardson a free agent. Liggins also provides the Magic with a defensive-minded wing player. Both guys should have very good chances of making the roster. (Team Grade: Makes sense)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

32. Justin Harper, F, Richmond (ACQUIRED FROM CLEVELAND)
The Magic needed some depth in their frontcourt and Harper is a stretch four who can shoot the rock. For the price of two likely late second-round picks down the line, this is a good get for Orlando. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

53. DeAndre Liggins, G, Kentucky
I really think Liggins has a chance to stick in the league due to his ability to defend. With Jason Richardson a free agent, Orlando needed depth at the two, and Liggins is a guy I had pegged here for a while and is a very solid get. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
The Orlando Magic is a very good NBA team and has been for the past few seasons. But the team showed its weaknesses in the postseason by being eliminated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks, the same team it embarrassed in the second round of the playoffs a year ago.

Superstar Dwight Howard more than held up his end of the donkey in that series, averaging 27 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. That is not surprising though as Howard continues to blossom into perhaps the best big man in the game as shown by his third-straight NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. However, after Howard, the Magic failed to find consistency elsewhere on the floor.

General manager Otis Smith felt a change was needed early in the season and swung a pair of major deals. He exchanged terrible contract for terrible contract when Rashard Lewis was dealt to Washington for Gilbert Arenas. Smith also shipped Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and his 2011 first-round pick to Phoenix for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark.

The change did not provide the spark Smith was hoping it would. Turkoglu failed to return to his old form from a couple of seasons ago when he played a huge role for Orlando. Richardson was not an upgrade from what Carter brought to the team and Arenas was pretty awful shooting an atrocious 33.4 percent from the floor.

Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson all contributed to the cause, but did not help Orlando pack the punch needed to compete with the top tier teams in the East.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Dwight Howard/Daniel Orton

PF: Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson/Justin Harper

SF: Hedo Turkoglu/Quentin Richardson/#Earl Clark

SG: Gilbert Arenas/J.J. Redick/DeAndre Liggins

PG: Jameer Nelson/Chris Duhon

NBA Free Agents:

#SF-Earl Clark (TO)

SG-Jason Richardson (UFA)

PF-Malik Allen (UFA)

Offseason Transactions:

Magic acquire PF Justin Harper from Cavs for two second round picks

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $74.8 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. A Second Banana/Keep Dwight Howard Happy: Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill, Steve Francis; since arriving in the NBA, the Magic have been unable to find a true second banana on the wing to complement Dwight Howard’s developing dominance inside. That is one of the contributing factors as to why Howard has never won a NBA title.

With Howard potentially becoming a free agent, the Magic need to somehow find a true second banana this offseason to A) Keep Howard happy and convince him to stay in Orlando and B) help the franchise continue to compete in the improving Eastern Conference. However, the Magic is massively over the cap and does not have a ton of assets that will receive a lot of interest in the trade market. It might need a minor miracle to finally fill this need.

2. Power Forward: While Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson are nice players in their own right, I am not sure either of them should be starting for a team that calls itself a legit NBA title contender. The trade with the Suns left the Magic without a true backup for Howard, and unless Daniel Orton greatly improves, which I would not count on, Orlando needs to add some sort of size.

3. Shooting Guard: Jason Richardson is a free agent, and unless the Magic is comfortable with a rotation of Gilbert Arenas and J.J. Redick at the two (which it shouldn’t be), it will likely have interest in finding an upgrade.

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