Archive for the ‘Orlando Magic’ Category

dennis-schroeder-celebrate

With the dust mostly settled on this offseason’s player movement — and there was a whole lot of it this year — it’s time to take stock of all the fascinating new faces in new places, as well as the more compelling stories of players who will face new challenges while sticking around. Over the course of the next few weeks, Andrew Unterberger will do a team-by-team look at the most interesting players going into next season — one new to the team, and one returning — as we all try to pass the dog days of NBA-less summer, dreaming of hoops-filled months to come. The series continues today with the teams in the Southeast Division: the Hawks, Bobcats, Heat, Magic and Wizards.

ATLANTA HAWKS

Most Interesting New Player: Dennis Schroeder

Yeah, I know this guy is kind of a trendy pick after his Summer League success and all, but man, did you see this guy? That video of assists-that-weren’t Trey posted a few weeks ago should be all you need to see to get excited about Schroeder, and every game I watched of his left me more convinced that he was eventually going to be Rajon Rondo with better shooting range. “Eventually” might not be next year, but I don’t think the court vision and basic floor general confidence on the level Schroeder seemed to display in Vegas could end up being a mirage — if there was one showcase rookie this year whose skills were legit, I’d bet it’s Schroeder. It was a little disappointing that Atlanta balked and re-signed Jeff Teague. It’s a fair deal, sure, but if they’d seen Schroeder’s Summer League game first, I think they’d leave pretty convinced this was their Point Guard of the Future.

Also disappointing that Schroeder probably won’t be joined by fellow rookie Bebe Noguiera on the court this year, as it looks like the Hawks are keeping him stashed overseas for a season. Nogueira was extremely impressive himself in Vegas, and the two showed surprisingly good on-court chemistry and such awesome rookie duos are pretty rare these days. Between them and John Jenkins/Mike Scott in ’12, Atlanta has had a couple sneaky awesome drafts now since Danny Ferry came over.

Most Interesting Returning Player: Al Horford

I guess? I didn’t find any of the players on their roster last year all that interesting, which is why I hoped they’d blow it up in the offseason, which they sorta did but not really. I actually kinda feel bad for Horford, since after a half-decade of playing out of position at center to accommodate the undersized Josh Smith at power forward, Smith finally flew the coop, and they just replaced him with another undersized power forward, one who should also take plenty of post touches away from Horford. At least this is the East, where there are only like two centers you really have to worry about killing you down low on offense, but man, it might be nearly a decade into his career before Al gets to maybe play his actual position on the court with any regularity. Seems like a raw deal.

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This is already the second time ESPN has gone to the posterizing meme well, but I’m still predisposed to liking surprise dunks. And something I just learned is that I am also predisposed to really liking surprise dunks when they feature Victor Oladipo’s slightly hellish cackle, which I hope gets picked up by net microphones when he’s making real dunks during this coming season. Or as he might say, “AAAHHHHEEEEEHHHHAAAHHHHH!!!”

 

dwight-howard-billboard

I’m not sure exactly how much an Orlando area billboard costs to rent for a short time, but I’m willing to bet it’s worth it for a zing this stellar. Sure, the countdown is basically telling you how much money you’re wasting per minute and exactly how soon your investment will become irrelevant, but still. How often do you get to stick it to the guy who stuck it to you for a year? Not very often. Worth every penny.

(via Reddit)

metta-world-peace-grabbing-dwight-howard-cheek

Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Orlando for their first game in O-Town since that big guy forced his way out of the Magic Kingdom. No, not Shaquille O’Neal, dummy. That happened forever ago. We’re talking about Dwight Howard, who dominated for the Magic, embarrassed the Magic, re-upped with the Magic and then forced the Magic to trade him. Remember?

Anyways, now that Dwight has apologized to the city and made everything 100 percent OK, the only thing to wonder is what his teammates are feeling as they get ready to enter a hostile Amway Arena. And for a measured approach to this monumental occasion, naturally, we turn to Metta World Peace. From ESPN:

“I don’t really care, because I’m going to Disney World,” he said. “We’re getting in early. I don’t care. I’m going to go on these rides. I’m going let the fans do what they do, that’s their problem. I’m going to have the Mickey Mouse ears, all that. Watch me. You don’t believe me, just watch.”

First of all, killer Trinidad James reference. Very on-trend. Second of all, I believe him. This is a guy who did a television interview in his underwear, owns a tiny race car and once looked like this for a Media Day photo shoot — why wouldn’t he go to Disney World, but some Mickey ears and ride rides? That seems exactly like something he’d do. I’d even buy it if he is trying to say he’d play the game in Mickey ears, which is something I also believe is within the realm of possibilities. This is Metta World Peace, you guys. Never doubt him.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if Kobe Bryant is being sympathetic to Dwight’s plight … well, I’m sure you know the answer to that question. From ProBasketballTalk:

Bryant seemed incredulous when told that Howard said his return on Tuesday would be “emotional,” and laughed off the idea while providing his teammate with some words of wisdom in advance of the team’s visit.

“Emotional?! I’ll talk to him,” Bryant said, while seeming a bit exasperated. “Just go out there and bust they ass. Show them what they’re missing.”

This was followed by big laughs all around, because it was clear by Bryant’s expression that he couldn’t relate at all to that sentiment.

“Save the emotional s— for when you retire,” he added.

[...]“It may be tough for him,” Bryant said. “He’s a very, very nice kid. He wants to say the right things and please as many people as he can. You can’t please everybody, and I’ll talk to him about it a little bit before we get down to Orlando and try to put a little of that a–hole in him for the game.”

So Metta World Peace is going to Disney World and Kobe Bryant can’t believe Dwight would be emotional about returning to the place where he played basketball from 18-26 — some things never change.

tobias-harris-magic

Even though he might have been the key to last week’s J.J. Redick trade, when most people hear the name Tobias Harris, they’re like, “Who? David Cross in ‘Arrested Development?’” because that is the only Tobias anyone really knows and Harris still isn’t notable enough to show up on Wikipedia’s list of people with that name. Needless to say, even though he could end up as a solid role player in the NBA, Tobias Harris is a pretty minor entity.

But that’s all about to change, since he’s now wearing the most infamous number in Orlando Magic history. From the Orlando Sentinel:

Dwight Howard’s jersey number was destined to be retired by the Magic — until his tumultuous exit last summer.

Everyone knows the story.

The end of the story — at least a symbolic end of the Dwight chapter — came Saturday night in Orlando.

Another Magic player appeared on the court wearing Howard’s old No. 12: Tobias John Harris.

Harris played his first game since arriving from the Milwaukee Bucks in a multiplayer trade last week for J.J. Redick, scoring 14 points and blocking three shots against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I’ve heard a lot about that because it’s Dwight Howard’s number,” Harris said, managing a laugh.

[...]

Another person who had an impact on Tobias’ career and life was Morgan Childs.

He and Childs were best friends and AAU teammates in Long Island. But Childs died at 16 of a rare blood disease. So Tobias, to honor Childs, wore Childs’ No. 12 during his senior year in high school and in college.

But he had to wear No. 15 when he joined the Bucks, as No. 12 had been taken by forward Luc Mbah a Moute.

After being traded to the Magic, Tobias reclaimed a number that means so much to him, a number that once meant so much to Magic fans.

Well that is certainly one way to stop being a completely unknown player — by rocking the uniform number of a franchise cornerstone who just whined his way out of the city, Tobias Harris is basically ensuring he’ll see some No. 12s in the crowd, even if they are just people who don’t want to count that $60 they spent on a Dwight jersey a year ago as a sunk cost. It is kind of a roundabout way of seeing your own jersey, but it’s pretty smart. (He could also maybe consider handing out duct tape to fans so that they can DIY themselves a Tobias Harris jersey but that might be overstepping his bounds a bit.)

It’s not terribly shocking that this would happen though. The Jazz gave away Deron Williams’ No. 8 to Josh Howard the season after Williams was traded and Randy Foye is wearing it this year, Anthony Randolph is wearing Carmelo Anthony’s No. 15 in Denver and Quincy Acy is dropping scraggly beard hairs all over Chris Bosh’s No.4 for the Raptors. You could actually make a pretty terrible team of guys who have taken the numbers of big-name players after they left.

But it does feel pretty early in the game for the swap. It was less than a year ago that we all got to watch the most awkward press conference in history and there’s already a new No. 12 in Orlando. It’s just a little strange, especially when you consider guys have been told not to wear numbers because of the past they have associated with them. And it has to be weird, I’m guessing, for Orlando fans to see No. 12 again so soon. But nostalgia is for suckers and sharks die if they ever stop moving. I guess this is growing up.

tobias-harris-holding-ball

By default, the biggest move of trade deadline day was J.J. Redick to Milwaukee. He was the best player moved on the day, and while that feels weird to type, it’s not a pejorative.

Indisputably, and importantly, Milwaukee got a good quality player. This shouldn’t be overlooked. In the Dwight Howard-era, Redick was beginning to win praise as a much improved role player, a one-time specialist shooter who’s added a floor game and sufficient defense to remove the biggest holes in his game. And this year, while under the radar on the lottery-bound Magic, he’s taken that to an extra level. Without ever being a star, or especially close to it, Redick betters any team he is on, more so than any other player in the deal. His attraction and usage to Milwaukee is easily determinable.

Yet to fully maximize that price and win the deal, they need to re-sign him. They also need to do so without overpaying, something that they’ve done too often in recent years. But it won’t be easy. Redick is not eligible for an extension and will be an unrestricted free agent when he hits the open market this summer, in a market with scant few quality two guards in it. One of the other few who might be on the market will be the guy likely ahead of Redick in the Bucks depth chart, Monta Ellis. This, then, presents Milwaukee with a self-imposed problem. More than likely, they’ll have to choose between them. They already had to choose between Ellis and Brandon Jennings, and were starting to realize it. This trade merely gives them an option for afterwards.

In theory, with Ellis considering opting out and with Jennings not getting an extension, all three will hit the market this summer and Milwaukee will need to choose two. It won’t be coincidental that, in the same week Ellis was nearly traded and word leaked he may opt out, a quality player was brought in at his position. The Bucks are planning for life without him, and Redick seems to be a part of it.

Of course, this would mean the initial Ellis trade was a waste of time and assets. That smarts. But that’s a pill that needed swallowing long ago. When evaluated in isolation, this trade sees Milwaukee land the best player (if only as a rental), and exchange a couple of prospects, taking in Gustavo Ayon for Tobias Harris. This latter part makes a difference.

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tristan-thompson-andrew-nicholson-milk-bag

I know you’ve been wondering what noted Canadian big men Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson think about bagged milk, that most minor of phenomena that us Americans just can’t stop thinking is weird. That’s why I asked both of them about those silly little baggies.

Here’s Tristan Thompson.

TBJ: Which do you miss more about Canada — loonies and toonies or bagged milk?

Thompson: Bagged milk.

TBJ: Why?

Thompson: Cause it’s easier to just cut it open with scissors.

TBJ: The jugs kind of seem like a hassle.

Thompson: Yeah, exactly. I’m kinda tired of these cardboards you have to open up and all this. It’s too much work.

And here’s Andrew Nicholson.

TBJ: Which do you miss more about Canada — loonies and toonies or bagged milk?

Nicholson: (laughs) I do kinda missed bagged milk.

TBJ: It’s easier.

Nicholson: It is easier. American’s don’t realize that.

So there you go — bagged milk is better than dollar coins and opening cardboards is too much work. This has been your Canadian milk bag report of the day.