Tag:Otis Smith
Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Dwight Howard is already setting up an escape

Dwight Howard has started making a list of cities to bolt to even as he says he wants to win a championship in Orlando. But doesn't some of that burden fall on him?
Posted by Matt Moore

The worst part of all this is that Dwight Howard won't come out and say it. He's pulling the whole routine. From saying how much he loves the fans, to saying he "just" wants to win a championship, to leaking to the press through people close to him that he wants to go to a big market, he's following the plan, the blueprint, the design.

The LeBron James "Set Up Your Escape" plan. Copyright 2010. 

From Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: 

Howard evidently is willing to be patient. A free agent in 2012 along with the Hornets' Chris Paul, Howard has yet to form a strong opinion one way or the other, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking. Stay or go? To paraphrase LeBron, what should he do? If he does leave, Howard has his eyes on two teams -- the Lakers and Knicks -- as the big-market destinations where he'll chase down his championships and marketing opportunities if things don't work out in the Sunshine State. The Nets, who are supposed to be in Brooklyn by then, also are in the mix, the person said.
via Magic's troubling questions surround futures of Howard, Arenas - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.


You've seen this before, right? With Shaquille O'Neal, obviously, in the same city, leaving for one of those cities on Howard's list, then winning championships while yet another small market team is made out to be the farm system. (But really, revenue sharing and parity isn't a problem in this league!) You've seen this before with LeBron James, never saying he was going to leave, saying he loved the fans, and that he just wants to win a championship. 

And that's the big one, right there. Because somewhere along the way, that's become our excuse. It predates even Kevin Garnett, but he's the most recent example. Any sort of franchise-crippling behavior and hostage-holding endeavors are excused in the pursuit of "winning a championship." The problem? This talk of winning a title always seems to come without any responsibility for the player. It's always about the GM, the coach, the organization doing more for the free-agent-to-be. 

Dwight Howard's not saying, "I want to win a championship, so I'm going to stop leaving 4.8 points per game on the floor with my free-throw shooting." He's not saying, "I want to win a championship, so I'm going to work on my footwork beyond a three-day session with Hakeem Olajuwon and become a truly dominant offensive center." He's not saying, "I want a championship, so I'm going to lead my guys to one." Instead he's laughing, making commercials, ratcheting up technical fouls as he spirals towards a suspension, and setting up the blame to be elsewhere. 

We're supposed to believe that if the Magic fail to win a title, it's due to a lack of endeavor or ingenuity on Otis Smith's part. But what has Smith done in Orlando? He's provided Howard with a crack stretch four with perimeter range and a versatile combo-forward who could run the pick and roll. When those options overstayed their usefulness, he jettisoned them, with no regard for their contribution to the franchise, because he was doing everything in his power to secure a championship-caliber team for Howard. He brought in Vince Carter, former All-Star. He helped develop Jameer Nelson as a sub-All-Star caliber point guard. He brought in Brandon Bass for a true power forward. He found a steal in young Ryan Anderson. He flipped Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis for a range of talent, including the player Howard had found the most success in the pick and roll with, Hedo Turkoglu, and a top perimeter player in Jason Richardson. Gilbert Arenas was icing on the cake, for crying out loud. 

And we're supposed to believe that Orlando hasn't done enough? Sure Howard had a dominant first half. But then he vanished against the Celtics. The Magic keep trying to find different perimeter concoctions to overtake the Celtics, but in reality? The best way to beat the Celtics is to bash their head in with the most powerful center in the game.  The same center who still, even in an MVP-worthy season, has trouble establishing position, and often follows the same footwork time and time again, leading to blocks, turnovers, and frustration. Howard never adapts to how the Celtics defend him, instead he wonders why the rest of the Magic can't hit a shot. 

This isn't to say Howard isn't an elite player. He is, by any possible measure. He's having an MVP-type season. But he's already starting to formulate an escape plan to get him out of Orlando without sacrificing his public image. He's making the failures out to be everyone's but his own. He'll wind up in a big market that can lure top free agents or trade prospects and he'll simply overwhelm others with talent, as we've seen the Lakers and Celtics do over the past four seasons.  And then he'll be lauded as the greatest, even if he doesn't improve a bit. 

If Howard wants to play in a bigger market to expand his commercial potential, fine. He's a businessman, he's got to take care of his own. If he wants to play somewhere he'll amazingly get more attention than he already does, have bigger parties, or more celebrity opportunities, that's his right. As a free agent, you get to decide where you work. But don't pretend that everything is done in the pursuit of a championship. A championship is more than just an overwhelming amount of talent. It's about sacrifice, devotion, and a commitment to being the absolute best part of your team you can be. 

If Dwight Howard really wants to win a championship, if he truly wants to be great, he needs to take responsibility for that endeavor, and not hold a franchise hostage, forced into panic over the prospect of losing him. 

But then, that's no longer the model.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 10:58 pm
 

LeBron has not forgotten Magic summer comments

LeBron James has some words about Orlando in preparation of their meeting Thursday. 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Orlando Magic had some pretty strong words about the Heat in the preseason. That led to an increasing rivalry between the two clubs, and it's been furthered by them both being contenders for the East this season, and in splitting the first two meetings this season. With the third matchup coming on Thursday, it would appear that LeBron James in particular considers this to be an important game for the Heat. From the AP:
"The simple fact that it's a division opponent, that means a lot," James said. "Trying to win your division is very key. And also playing exceptionally well on the road is definitely key. That definitely helps later on in the season. And being an Orlando team that basically said a lot of things about us in the offseason, that definitely adds a little bit to the fire."
via LeBron James still remembers Orlando critics when he joined Heat.


Basically, it bugs the Magic that the Heat got all the attention they feel they deserved as the Celtics' biggest rival for the East before playing a game, and it bugs the Heat that the Magic open their mouths.  This rivalry may feel like it's for second-best in the East, but it's more authentic than the blood between the Celtics and the Heat. The Magic can play the disrespect card, the Heat can play the "keep my name out of your mouth" card, and everyone walks away salty. It's a good system.

What's more interesting is how each side exposes the other one's weaknesses.  The Heat's sometimes lackadaisical defense struggles the inside-out motion of Orlando and the presence of Dwight Howard.  The Magic struggle with the perimeter penetration caused by James and Dwyane Wade, and have had issues with the ball movement of Miami as well. With the Magic vastly different from the last time the two teams met, but struggling as of late, Thursday's matchup should be a fine one. 

And a good test of whether the Heat intend to make good on that "list" they were making this summer. 
Posted on: December 20, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:42 pm
 

Rumor: Magic looking to trade for backup big man

After trading Marcin Gortat to the Phoenix Suns, the Orlando Magic are reportedly searching for a reserve big man to backup Dwight Howard. Posted by Ben Gollivermarcin-gortat


How quickly NBA teams turn from sellers into buyers.  The Orlando Magic, owners of probably the best center depth in the NBA last week, now are stretched thin, incredibly exposed if MVP candidate and starting center Dwight Howard should go down to injury and forced to play small ball when he is on the bench. How did that happen? Two big-time trades this weekend that netted Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu gave the Magic added offensive firepower and depth on the wings, but came with one large cost: the move of backup center Marcin Gortat to the Phoenix Suns.  Magic executive Otis Smith sounds prepared to address his new-found vulnerability upfront and is reportedly on the prowl for Gortat's replacement already, according to NBA Fanhouse
The Orlando Magic have asked about the availability of both New York's Ronny Turiaf and Philadelphia's Tony Battie, hoping to fill quickly their new void at backup center behind Dwight Howard.
The Magic, according to NBA sources, would like to use backup point guard Chris Duhon as trade bait, but they also would be willing to use small forward Quentin Richardson to get what they want.
Gortat is an agile, physical big man on a reasonable long-term contract and, as we noted on Saturday, he comes out as one of the big winners of the weekend's trade activity, given the large role he will surely take on in the desert now that he is no longer trapped in Dwight Howard's shadow. Replacing him will be no easy task, as Smith is surely well aware.  NBA teams don't often trade big for small without attaching a heavy premium, even when it comes to reserve parts. Turiaf, almost assuredly, will cost Orlando more than they are willing to pay. While Duhon is solid, and capable of playing more minutes than are available in Orlando, it's unlikely that he or Richardson is going to spark a ton of league-wide interest on their own. Aside from dangling Duhon, Smith's options going forward are to settle for a less productive warm body or to consider offering up another trade chip, such as reserve guard J.J. Redick. Like Gortat, Redick is a valuable role-player with a defined NBA skill -- he can shoot the rock from deep -- and he is signed to a reasonable long-term deal, making roughly $6.6 million a year through 2012-2013.  In Orlando, Redick is now fighting for minutes with Arenas, Jason Richardson and Quentin Richardson, so moving him wouldn't be a catastrophic loss. It would make for even more of a rotation overhaul than has already been enacted, but true Dwight Howard Injury Insurance is bound to carry a steep price. Patience wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Smith, as some time to assess how his first round of moves work out could clarify which of the guards should be the true odd man out. 
Posted on: September 28, 2010 3:44 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 3:45 pm
 

Heat Stroke: SVG talks Heat, and we listen

Posted by Royce Young

If at any point this season all the Miami Heat talk starts to get stagnant with boring quotes and a bunch of standard answers of, "They're a great team blah blah blah," have no fear. Just run to the bank of good Heat quotes that is located in Orlando.

Stan Van Gundy has never been one to hold back on what he thinks and yesterday at media day, you can be sure he talked as much about his fellow Floridian team as he did his own. And of course he, and a few other Magic personell, provided today's ridiculous Heat item of the day:

"ESPN is like 'all Heat, all the time,'" Van Gundy told Tim Povtak of FanHouse. "This isn't about us getting together for training camp and the theme is we have to beat the Heat. That's ridiculous. There are a lot of good teams. They aren't the standard bearer.''

But the good stuff from Orlando didn't stop there. Magic general manager Otis Smith said, "They've got a good three (players). I've got a good 12. We're as deep as any team in the league, probably deeper,'' said Magic general manager Otis Smith. "They've got three, and we're solid 1-12. Until they start playing the games, it's just a team on paper."

Smith was told that 99 percent of the analysts are picking the Heat to win the East, he quipped, "I'm in that one percent then ... Boston won the East last year, and the rest of us finished second. They might beat us 3-4 times during the regular season, but once the playoffs start, it's a different ball game."

That right there, is called bulletin board material. Or if you're LeBron James, mental note material.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 2:31 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 2:41 pm
 

Magic will do what it takes to extend Howard

Magic will do whatever it takes to re-sign Howard, but All-Star Center follows the LeBron formula for keeping leverage.
Posted by Matt Moore


This summer is going to have long-lasting effects on the NBA that go well beyond the careers of the players who actually switched teams. It's going to affect how teams treat their expiring stars, increasing the amount of panic they experience and allowing players to extract every ounce of leverage in the negotiations. Sure, the money is going to be the same. The max is the max (barring some massive changes in the CBA this summer). But there are things that have to do with personnel, direction, and perks that players can squeeze out with the threat of "LeBroning" their team.

Such is the problem the Orlando Magic face. The Orlando Sentinel reports today that Magic General Manager Otis Smith said he has every intention of locking up Howard before he hits free agency , by signing him this summer before his expiring year. In regards to giving Howard the kind of contract he wants?

"Of course we will," said Smith, when asked if he'll approach Howard with a contract of his choosing. "We want Dwight to be in a Magic uniform for as long as he plays basketball."

But Howard, naturally, followed the script for free agents with a contract expiratioin in sight (outside of Derrick Rose, who's apparently just a sweetheart). He said he loved Orlando and that he planned on being there forever. But of course, wouldn't say he'll sign. That one little step short, where you keep the fans happy but let the organization know you expect to be treated the way you want to. That goes for everything from coaching to personnel to team policies. These are the kinds of things Howard can control. He's also giving himself an out if the next two years don't go so well.

Imagine that Vince Carter falls off the production cliff as age catches up with him and Rashard Lewis has another slight downturn. SVG starts to lose the locker room and all of a sudden the Magic have a disappointing season. Howard is going to keep that free agency possibility in his pocket as long as he has to to make sure the Magic continue to put him in a position to contend. Now, sure, the more likely scenario is the Magic have an Eastern Conference Finals run or better in them this season and everything looks up, he may commit. He genuinely loves the team, the city, and the organization. Being that kind of hero probably appeals to his temperament. But he's going to maintain his position, the same position LeBron James and Chris Bosh held at this point in their career. Always saying the right things without saying the thing that locks you in. This summer was all about players getting what they want how they want, when they want. And it sounds like Dwight Howard will be following that formula to a T.
Posted on: July 28, 2010 9:07 am
 

Orlando locked and loaded for future

Posted by Matt Moore

The Orlando Magic are a force in the NBA. Despite making the Finals in 2009, and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010, there are still those who dont' fully realize how good this Magic team has been. Much of this is on account of their style of play, which focuses on their three point shooting as part of their "1-in-4-out" strategy. The Magic set a record last season for made three pointers. They believe that this perimeter attack, when combined with Dwight Howard's physical play and their elite-level defense is a recipe for a championship.

So much so that they've locked into the approach for three more years.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic have agreed to three-year extensions with both Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith. The extensions are part of a wider range of moves that look to reformulate the structure of the front office with several executives being promoted and/or changing titles. Van Gundy's contract was set to expire at the end of this season. SVG has faced criticism from just about everyone, from Dwight Howard to Shaquille O'Neal to Michael Wilbon for his coaching style, which generally involves a lot of yelling. Teaching, to be sure. But a lot of yelling. And then screaming, and then more yelling. But despite all the criticism, and what I can only assume are a lot of throat lozenges, Van Gundy is effective. And that's what matters to Orlando ownership.

Meanwhile, as Magic blog Orlando Pinstriped Post points out , the Magic are primed for their best three-point shooting season yet. Of the nine players currently on roster with the Magic who do not play center, 8 of them had a three point shooting percentage above the league average last season. Their top four backcourt players (Nelson, Carter, Redick, Duhon) shot better than 37%. The Magic replaced two of their worst three-point shooters (Jason Williams and Matt Barnes) with two solid-to-great three point shooters in Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon. The Magic are primed to hit from the perimeter like never before.

And they've got their abrasive general back as well.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com