Why The Orlando Magic Needed To Become A Different Team

Dwight HowardWill the new players fit with the Magic’s franchise player.

Photo: AP Images

On the surface, the two deals the Orlando Magic participated in this weekend are perplexing.They shipped one terrible contract in Rashard Lewis for another in Gilbert Arenas. They unloaded one scoring guard in Vince Carter for another in Jason Richardson. And they traded Dwight Howard’s insurance in Marcin Gortat, to bring back Hedo Turkoglu, who they let walk just two years ago.

Are the Magic better? Maybe. They had to get rid of Rashard Lewis, who was grossly underperforming, and Vince Carter, who for more than a year showed he did not fit in Orlando’s system. Meanwhile, they need Richardson’s shooting ability, are hopeful Arenas will shake off some more rust, and know from the 2009 playoffs that Turkoglu has the ability to help them.

But according to Basketball Reference’s “Win Share” metric, they traded away 5.0 wins for 3.4 wins. That downgrade came with the added cost of losing two 6-foot-11 players who possess the size and defensive ability necessary to compete with Boston and L.A.

For those drawbacks, what Orlando general manager Otis Smith undoubtedly accomplished is a complete roster overhaul. And that’s exactly what the Magic needed.

In 2009, they made the NBA Finals. That offseason they retooled their roster and acquired Vince Carter in hopes of leaping the last hurdle and winning a championship. Instead, they regressed, and lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. This season they’ve regressed further.

The Magic already have their franchise player in Dwight Howard. For better or worse, they’re simply reshuffling the deck around him. It’s not because they lacked good cards, but because together, the cards didn’t amount to a good hand.

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