Archive for the ‘Orlando Magic’ Category

Game No. 50: Magic 117, Raptors 101

I thought Saturday night’s close call loss against the Bulls would be my last RaptorBlog recap for a while, but it turns out Joseph still isn’t back from New York so I got to watch and write about this dog of a game. Well, you don’t get a fancy intro tonight. Before my six thoughts, you get this.

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Stan Van Gundy

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, Gary Forbes, James Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, Aaron Gray
Orlando: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, Dwight Howard

Injury report

Toronto: Jerryd Bayless is probable, James Johnson has “flu-like symptoms” and will be a game-time decision, while DeMar DeRozan will miss another game.

Orlando: No significant injuries to report.

Tonight is the first game of a five-game homestand for the Raptors, but the first three games are against the Magic, Nuggets and Heat so it could be more like “home sweep home”, right? Sorry. Anyway, the Magic are currently third in the Eastern Conference — five games behind the Heat and four games ahead of the Sixers — so I don’t know how motivated they are as long as they don’t go on a spectacular tumble. They’ve beaten the Raptors twice already this season, but by just 10 points combined. Could the Raptors steal one tonight?

Don’t count on it if all three of Jerryd Bayless, James Johnson and DeMar DeRozan are out of the lineup. If Bayless does return to the lineup tonight, it will be interesting to see how the backcourt minutes will be distributed between him and Gary Forbes. After his first career double-double Saturday night against the Bulls, coach Dwane Casey might want to give Forbes heavy minutes matched up with six-foot-six two guard Jason Richardson.

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Since Glen Davis is in town, here he is gettin’ down with The Basketball Jones‘ Dancing Hedo!

I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t think trading Jose Calderon is as dire a need as a lot of other Raptors fans believe. It’s not the worst thing in the world if Calderon is the team’s starting point guard heading into next season. Having said that, I’m obviously still of the belief that if you can find a deal that gives the Raptors more flexibility, draft picks and young assets to build with, I’m all for it.

With that, and given that the NBA’s trade deadline is now just a week away (Thursday, March 15), here are three realistic trade proposals I’ve come up with involving Calderon and the Raptors. The key word here is “realistic.” I didn’t try to find trades that land the Raptors a superstar or a first round pick from a cellar dwelling team. These are all deals that I believe could conceivably help both teams involved and that would all work, according to ESPN’s trade machine.

Trade 1: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Portland for Raymond Felton ($7.5 million expiring contract) and a draft pick

This is the trade most fans are talking about, and it does make a lot of sense for both teams. Portland gets an obvious upgrade at the point in Calderon, who they can keep next season, while the Raptors get a point guard who can simply finish the season in Toronto, but more importantly, the Raps get an expiring contract. I would want the Trail Blazers to throw in a draft pick, as Calderon is a much more valuable player than Felton is right now. The problem is that the Blazers could be a lottery team, and I can’t see them parting with a lottery pick just to acquire Jose.

Trade 2: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Atlanta for Kirk Hinrich ($8.1 million expiring contract) and a draft pick

While Josh Smith could be on his way out of Atlanta, as off right now, the Hawks are still a legitimate Eastern Conference playoff team that I can’t see blowing things up and rebuilding just yet. They could be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but there are also stretches where they look poised to make another deep run. With this deal, Atlanta improves greatly at the point and gets a lead guard who does a fine job taking care of the ball, something I’m sure a playoff team might value. Just like with my proposed Portland trade, the Raptors get a half capable point guard on a fairly large expiring contract to finish off this rebuilding season. And just like the Portland deal, I’d still want the Hawks to throw in a draft pick to even things out. Atlanta should be picking somewhere between 17 and 25 in the draft, so they might be more willing to cough up a first round pick than the Blazers. Though perhaps second round picks are more realistic in these proposed deals.

Trade 3: Toronto trades Jose Calderon to Utah for Devin Harris or for Trade Exception and draft pick

While I see a Calderon for Harris swap as “realistic,” I would not support such a trade. Harris will still be owed $8.5 million next season, so the Raptors would basically be downgrading their position at the point simply to save a couple million dollars next year. For anyone thinking Devin Harris is still a younger point guard with some untapped potential, he’s actually only 17 months younger than Calderon. This would be making a deal simply for the sake of making a deal. It doesn’t make much sense for the Raptors. As for the other proposed trade with the Jazz, the Raptors could simply take on a $9.7 million trade exception (from the Mehmet Okur trade) and perhaps even take Utah’s second round pick. Minnesota owns Utah’s first round pick this season (lottery protected), and I doubt the Jazz would be willing to part with Golden State’s top-seven protected first round pick. A trade for the exception, without a player coming to Toronto in return, would give the Raptors more financial flexibility over the next year and would likely give them a better chance in the draft lottery.

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If the Mavericks weren’t in the running for Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard this summer (and I believe they are the dark horse team that could scoop up both), I’d suggest a Calderon for Kidd trade that nets the Raptors a $10.1 million expiring contract. While I think Calderon would be an upgrade over Kidd for Dallas, I don’t think the Mavs would be willing to mess much with their chemistry or would be willing to mess with their advantageous cap situation this off-season.

Worth mentioning: The two teams who might just need Jose Calderon the most, or at least who are in most need of a point guard, are the Lakers and the Magic. The problem is that neither team has the type of assets Toronto covets and even the Lakers’ trade exception from the Lamar Odom deal wouldn’t cover Calderon’s nearly $10 million salary this season. For the Lakers or Magic to acquire Jose from the Raptors, the deal would have to involve a third team or more. If L.A. or Orlando can get a third team involved that brings attractive assets to the table for Toronto, then either team could be in the mix.

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All of the proposed deals mentioned involve the Raptors clearing cap space for this off-season, but it’s important to remember that Toronto probably doesn’t figure into any of the big free agent targets’ plans. If Calderon had two years or more left on his deal, I’d want the Raptors to rid themselves of that contract as soon as possible. But realistically, Jose’s contract doesn’t hamper the Raps this summer (Toronto should have at least $10 million in cap space) given the team’s still modest expectations.

This is why as enticing as cap space would be, I still say that the Raptors should be looking for draft picks or young assets in potential Calderon deals. If there isn’t a good deal to be made, then there’s nothing wrong with letting Jose run the offence with a team that will once again be young and fairly inexperienced next season.

Game No. 38: Magic 92, Raptors 88

For whatever reason, the Raptors have consistently put up a good fight against the Magic over the past couple of seasons. Tonight was no exception as they lost by just four points even though they went into battle without Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson. When you consider that Bargnani is this team’s MVP and Amir is probably among its top four players, it’s not a stretch to suggest the Raptors might have pulled this one out with a fully-stocked roster.

Since ifs and buts are not, in fact, candied nuts, here are my random observations about this contest.

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Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Ed Davis, Aaron Gray
Orlando: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, Dwight Howard

Injury report

Toronto: Amir Johnson will sit this one out with a sore knee, while Andrea Bargnani’s return date is still a mystery.

Orlando: Quentin Richardson is day-to-day.

No other NBA team has been slept on this season as much as the Orlando Magic has. They’re at 24-14, they’ve won eight of their last 11 games, and Dwight Howard is averaging 20 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks while many people accuse him of not giving a full effort every night. They might not be a championship contender, but the Magic are still pretty damn good.

Curiously, the Raptors have won three of their last five matchups with the Magic and only lost by six the last time these teams met on New Year’s Day. Of course, Bargnani scored 28 points in that game while he’s still recovering from a calf injury going into this one. Don’t be surprised to see the Raptors’ collection of big men foul Howard early and often in this game, as they try to punish him for his career-worst 49.4 percent free throw shooting.

Magic power forward Ryan Anderson can go off on his own if the Raptors somehow manage to keep Howard in check. Anderson has had four 20/10 games this season (including two separate 23/15 performances) and he posted a 14 and 20 line in just 27 minutes against the Sixers on Jan. 30. I don’t know if his emergence will help convince Dwight to re-sign in Orlando (probably not) but Anderson provides the Magic with their own “Bargnani-esque” player to potentially rebuild around.

This is more impressive than funny, but here’s “Sonny Weemsas” winning the Lithuanian league dunk contest over the weekend: