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.