No Magic in Orlando’s Offseason Moves

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Otis Smith has to feel pretty good about himself right now.

The Orlando Magic general manager just watched his underdog club, which nobody in the league gave a chance to beat Cleveland or Boston, compete in the NBA Finals. Now he?s landed Vince Carter and Brandon Bass in the offseason, moves that have sports pundits everywhere going ga-ga over the former Magic baller.

?Clearly, Otis Smith knows that you must be proactive if you want to be successful in this league,? writes Zach McCann of the Orlando Magic Daily.

Yahoo Sports? Kelly Dwyer is more effusive: ?It?s hard not to be condescending or matter of fact, but I can?t help but implore to readers that the Orlando Magic have absolutely owned this offseason.?

Here?s the problem with that statement: The Magic haven?t made an upgrade at a single position. I?d contend, in fact, they?re considerably worse off.

Perhaps the most general way to state the case is this: Name, in order, the players most important to Orlando?s 2008-09 postseason run:

1. Dwight Howard
2. Hedo Turkoglu
3. Rashard Lewis
4. Rafer Alston
5. Courtney Lee

Three of those five are now gone.

To get more specific, we can break down how each off-season move degrades last year?s Eastern Conference champs.

1. Carter/
Ryan Anderson to Orlando for Alston, Lee and Tony Battie.

Let me get this straight. You?re trading away your backup point guard (the same one who led you to the Finals while Jameer Nelson sat out with a shoulder injury) and a 6-foot-5 starting two-guard with huge upside and defensive ability for a 32-year-old, injury-prone cry-baby, coming off one of the worse statistical seasons of his career?

Let me add that he doesn?t like to play defense and, with balky knees, operates best out of half-court sets (as opposed to Orlando?s fast-paced style). Oh, also, he?s never been to the Finals ? not even the conference finals, in fact ? possesses zero leadership skills and is due $16.3 million next season. Makes sense, right?

2. Vince is supposed to replace Turkoglu.

Some would argue Hedo was the team?s playoffs MVP. The 30-year-old Turk hit just about every big shot the Magic needed, went 39 percent from beyond the arc and confused defenses with his length (6-foot-10) and ability to operate both inside and out.

He also played solid, stay-at-home defense against Paul Pierce, LeBron James (though I can?t seem to find any footage of that matchup online?) and Kobe Bryant, something Carter hasn?t, and likely won?t, do.

Turkoglu, to add insult to injury, will be making about $10 million a year with the Raptors. Carter?s getting $16.3 million next season, $17.3 in 2010-11 and has a team option for $18 million the season after that.

Turkoglu for less, or Carter for more ? What would you do?

3. Re-signing Marcin Gortat.

When the Dallas Mavericks offered career backup Gortat a five-year contract for $34 million, no one ? not even Gortat ? thought the Magic would match it.

And why would they? The Poland native played just 12.5 minutes a game last season behind Superman, averaging 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Sounds like a 7-million-dollar player to me, especially when you consider that Gortat has said repeatedly he doesn?t want to play for Orlando, and that Smith is now almost $80 million deep for the upcoming season, placing the club well into luxury-tax territory.

In other words, almost across the board, the Magic are paying more to get less. And they still need a legitimate backup point guard to replace the loss of Alston.

Not to worry, though, Otis. Kelly Dwyer thinks you guys are ?stacked."

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