Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith

It would be difficult to overstate the amount of pressure that Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith deals with in his ongoing attempts to build a legitimate championship contender and convince Dwight Howard to re-sign with the team, long-term. Most Magic fans want Smith to be replaced, while the media and fans of other teams widely consider him to be one of the worst GMs in the league. I can only imagine what other GMs think of him.

There have been several decisions Smith has made over the years of his tenure as Magic GM that have led many of us to believe he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. The first indication was when he selected Fran Vazquez with the 11th overall pick in the 2005 draft — seven years later, Vazquez might finally leave the Spanish League to sign on with the Magic. Then there was the six-year, $118 million contract he gave Rashard Lewis in 2007 — even Joe Johnson thinks that’s excessive.

In December 2010, Smith found somebody who was willing to take the second-worst contract in the NBA off his hands. Unfortunately, he had to take back the league’s worst contract belonging to Gilbert Arenas in return. Arenas played a little over a thousand minutes and shot 34 percent from the field before Smith used the new amnesty provision to buy him out.

I’ve beat up on Smith for years, but after reading an interview with him in the Orlando Sentinel, it seems I might have underestimated him. Here was his response to a question about whether it’s refreshing for him to be able to focus on basketball in general rather than the Dwight Howard situation:

“It’s about the same. Nothing really changes. You’ve got to remember I have to forecast beyond what you guys see. It’s OK that you guys are shortsighted; so you only see one thing at a time. That’s fine. But I have to forecast beyond that. The term ‘general manager’ means something. It means you generally manage all of it. And that’s what you kinda have to do. So I think things are going good. I think we’re still having to forecast and try to put our team together not only for just this current [season] but moving forward.”

You got that, haters? Sure, some of Smith’s moves have looked stupid at the time and still look stupid now, but that’s because we’re thinking “in the now”. Otis’ thinking is on a whole other level from ours. And I bet you never really considered the title “General Manager” and what it actually means until he broke it down for you, did you? That’s what I thought.

I say we all go on and generally manage our own lives and stop acting like we know how to run a basketball team better than Otis Smith. We don’t know what his forecast is any more than we can forecast tomorrow’s weather. It’s complicated, yo.

Comments (10)

  1. Whew. For a second there I thought you were actually going to accept his “explanation”.

    Otis just doesn’t understand how you short-sighted fools can’t see the long term appeal of trading for post-knee explosion Arenas or actually giving Big Baby…. well any money at all actually.

  2. Still not as bad a GM as Billy King

  3. I feel bad for Magic fans. I used to hate the magic, but after the Glen Davis trade, I only have pity.

  4. I do not like Otis Smith. I am a die hard Magic fan and some of the moves he has made in the past few years have made me want to vomit. Otis traded FOR Arenas? That is not good in any time looking forward or looking at it now. It seems like for every good move he makes, he makes a bad one. I have no clue what is wrong with him but I hope all this chaos will end soon.

  5. Otis’ strategy: import as many washed-up Warrior players as possible

  6. Arenas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!^

  7. Look the Fran Vasquez pick was terrible and trading for Arenas was one of the worst decisions of the decade, but he had to do something with Rashard Lewis’ corpse and not sure he could’ve done much better. He was completely right to let Hedo go instead of signing him to $10mil per year. His gamble on Vince Carter was a decent one (that unfortunately didn’t pay off) and he did brilliantly in bringing Ryan Anderson on that trade, without giving much away. And who knew Jason Richardson, having had a great season in Phoenix, would become Quentin Richardson II upon arrival in Orlando?

    He’s obviously not one of the best GMs in the league, but most of his moves can be reasonably defended (unlike Geoff Petrie, Billy King, Heisley and some others) as calculated gambles that didn’t pay off, and that Magic team that went to the finals was not going to make it again as it was constructed after Lewis and Hedo started to deteriorate. Unfortunately you do need some luck in this league as a small market, and the Magic never got much of that. I think you could do much worse than Otis Smith, and a lot of teams do.

    • If we had wanted to get rid of Rashard Lewis, we could have done that with the amnesty clause included in the new bargaining agreement. Instead we traded for Arenas who had a worse contract and then amnestied him. Rashard Lewis had about $20 million less on his contract. That’s less money that we have to pay a player who is not playing for us. I think Hedo and Lewis would have had a good, not great, season after the run to the finals. But, we would have been able to add a few players in the offseason to offset the less production of Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.

      • They couldn’t have amnestied Lewis. That would of been like cutting your family member out. The Magic knew they were going to use the amnesty, so they traded for Gil because it was an easier explanation, then amnestying Lewis after all he had done for the franchise.

  8. The Arenas deal is somewhat defensible. Magic needed a guy who could create their own shot and score. Rashard was washed up and we had R. Anderson and Bass who could both play the 4 better than Rashard. It didn’t work. Same thing with the VC trade. Good idea didn’t work out very well except for getting Ryan.

    The indefensible decisions were the initial criminal overpayment of Rashard (supposedly no team came within 40 million of what Otis offered). The signing of Duhon for 3 yrs and at 3 mil a season after seeing how terrible he was playing in an offense where pg’s have thrived (D’Anotoni’s). The re-signing of a washed up Richardson for 25 mil and 4 yrs after seeing how terrible he was with the Magic. Trading Bass and his reasonable contract for an undersized pf/c and then giving said player a 4 year deal even though the player you traded was better. And then the worst of them all trading a legit top 5-6 center and getting an aging sg and Turk’s terrible contract.

    At this point the Magic are screwed. They’ll have Jameer as an expiring next year but have no other pg to replace him and won’t have the money or assets to make a play for someone better. Ryan is sure to get a nice offer from someone. I’d guess somewhere around 7-8 mil per/yr for 3-4 years (unless of course Otis is negotiating, in which case it’ll be 10-12 mil per/yr over 5), so any savings made by getting rid of Jameer are going to be spent locking Ryan up.

    The Magic payroll is 65 mil next year right now. Already over the cap. There’s just no way they can dig themselves out of this mess w/o getting rid of Dwight. That team would have to take back one of JRich or Turk and one of Big Baby or Duhon.

    Best case both the Lakers and the Bulls go out b4 the finals and there’s a bidding war b/w them for Dwight. Worst case Van Gundy’s let go, the Magic go out again in the 1st round this year and Dwight again demands a trade two days b4 the season starts again.

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