MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Dwight Howard may have been a disruptive force all season with his attitude, but he remains the best center in the NBA and clearly is the team's finest player. If the Magic trade him, it will be impossible to get equal value. He led the league in rebounding again and he has improved each season in the league. If the Magic expect to be championship contenders, they must find a way to sign him to a long-term extension, because he is irreplaceable.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
Hedo Turkoglu, who was so important when the Magic reached the NBA Finals in 2010, played the season like he was closing his career. He lacked energy and the ability to make key plays anymore. The Magic traded to get him back early last season, believing he could be the player he once was, but he has struggled since his return. He has another year on his contract, but he is more of an anchor than a leader at this point.
The Magic need to have Howard committed to leading this team. If he is happy and healthy, they can put some new pieces around him. It would be good to have improvements at both small forward and shooting guard because both Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson are past their primes. The Magic are over the salary cap, but if Howard is committed, they should be able to attract the right player with a mid-level exception.
FREE AGENT FOCUS
Forward Ryan Anderson will become a restricted free agent and the Magic sound committed to matching any offer to keep him. They have proven in previous years they will match offers with both J.J. Redick and Marcin Gortat, whom they later traded to Phoenix. Jameer Nelson has until June 15 to inform the Magic if he will opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. The Magic might let him walk if they can find a better point guard.
--F Glen Davis is the one guy who really rose to the occasion when Dwight Howard went out and the playoffs began. Davis was disappointed about being a reserve through much of the season, but he certainly shined as a starter. It certainly has lit a fire under him, and he promises to return ready to help carry the team. He averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds in the playoffs. "I want to start. I want to be a leader for this team as we move forward," he said. "I'll be here working all summer. I want to put myself into position to take more responsibility. I want to be ready to play 40 minutes every night."
--F Earl Clark, after sitting much of the season, got significant playing time after Dwight Howard went out, and he showed flashes of what he can become -- a defensive stopper on the wing. Clark has a player option for the 2012-13 season. He just finished his third NBA season but is struggling to carve his niche. "I definitely want to be here. I don't want to be anywhere else," Clark said. "But (my contract status) is not really something I've given any thought to yet."
--G Jameer Nelson came to the Magic in the same draft as Dwight Howard (2004), and his career has been tied to Howard. Unfortunately, his consistency has been lacking through the years. Nelson has until June 15 to decide if he will exercise his option to become a free agent this summer or stick with the final year of his contract, paying him $7.8 million next season. He would like to see what the Magic do with Howard before he decides. "I can't make a decision until some of the other decisions are made around here," he said. "I want to be in the Orlando Magic uniform. I love being in this city."
--C Dwight Howard (herniated disc in back) had season-ending surgery in late April and is expected to be ready for the start of next season.
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