The Quick & Dirty on the Orlando-Washington-Phoenix Trade

It’s pretty unusual for a team that has won 59 games in consecutive seasons and sits 16-9 through 25 games this season to nuke their rotation and bring in three new players who will likely see major minutes during the remainder of the season, but that’s exactly what the Orlando Magic did this weekend.

They made two trades that dramatically reshape their roster.  In one deal, they sent forward Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards for guard Gilbert Arenas.  In the other, they sent reserve center Marcin Gortat and guards Mikael Pietrus and Vince Carter to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for guard Jason Richardson, swingman Hedo Turkoglu and reserve forward Earl Clark.

Before we look at the Magic’s end of the deal, let’s look at their trading partners.  Their motives and results are simpler.  For the Wizards, this is simply addition by subtraction.  Arenas’s performance has ranged from expensive distraction to flat out embarrassment for the last three seasons.  After he was suspended for bringing guns into the locker room last season, the Wizards drafted a player, John Wall, who plays Arenas’s primary position and does it better already.  I’m sure the Wizards couldn’t wait to hit Arenas in the ass with the door.  In return, they get Lewis, a 31 year old whose primary skill is knocking down three pointers.  There are hoops fans in Cleveland who probably still have nightmares of Lewis burying their Cavaliers in 2009.  Unfortunately Lewis hasn’t been the same marksman over the last season and change, so it’s hard to see the Wizards getting much as much in return as they simply lose by jettisoning Arenas and his baggage.

For Phoenix the deal was also simple, they get some size in the 6’11 Gortat.  The Suns have struggled because they are getting destroyed inside (they are near the bottom of the league in rebounding).  Gortat gives them presence in the paint.  It allows them to move players like Robin Lopez and Channing Frye to their more natural spot at power forward.  Their hopes of winning a title in the Steve Nash era are still faint but they have a bit more life now.  The price of getting this size was to take on Carter and Pietrus, two players who have not performed well, but may benefit from Alvin Gentry’s uptempo system, and part with Turkoglu and Richardson.

Okay, now let’s look at it from Olrando’s perspective.  They lose a valuable pivotman, but hey, they have Dwight Howard, one of the best in the game already.  They lose two players who were not performing well in their system, Carter and Pietrus, and Lewis, who has probably peaked.  In return, they get Richardson, who is playing very well and whose skill set is a good fit for the Orlando system (he’s an excellent catch and shoot marksman).  Turkoglu’s return to Orlando will probably include a bit of revisionism about how the Magic never should have let him go, but he’s been in decline since 2008-09, his final season in royal blue.  However, Turkoglu is hitting threes at a career best rate this season (42.3%), a skill well suited for the Orlando offense.  Arenas was a borderline superstar in 2005-’06, but that’s four years, two knee surgeries and one suspension ago.  Still he’s performing at a higher level than many Orlando perimeter players.  The question is how Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy configures all of this talent.  The smart move would be to start Ryan Anderson at power forward in place of Lewis.  Anderson has excellent range from behind the arc and is a decent rebounder.  Jameer Nelson remains the starter at point guard, and the Richardsons, Quentin and Jason fill the other perimeter spots.  Arenas, Turkoglu and Brendan Bass become the main three players off of the bench.

I have no statistical proof that this will work but the Magic GM Otis Smith has made his team marginally younger and better at the cost of some payroll flexibility and a reserve center.  It looks good on paper, the team was suffering due to poor outside shooting and these moves should remedy that, but it’s still really strange to see a team winning 72% of its games hit the panic button.


About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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4 Responses to The Quick & Dirty on the Orlando-Washington-Phoenix Trade

  1. Welcome to the blogosphere Martin. Didn’t we have several exchanges about the Magic’s wisdom – or lack thereof – in saying bye to Hedo and welcoming VC in the first place? VC’s been shot for the last 3 seasons; all that early career high-flying having apparently taken a toll – while Hedo’s game has always been better suited to Howard’s peerless post presence. You did allude to that in your piece, but you gotta come clean my friend.

  2. jmartin437 says:

    Hi Willard,
    Thanks, I’ve been blogging about cheese for a while. I needed this to get back up to speed on sports writing.
    I’m happy to come clean on things I was wrong about. For instance, I spent all last fall acknowledging that Favre was showing me something. After three bad seasons in four I thought he was washed up.
    However, I think you need to disconnect your thesis. Carter isn’t washed up. He scored 16 per game with Orlando, didn’t turn the ball over and played good D. He may not have been a good fit in Orlando as he’s not an effective catch and shoot guy (sometimes good players are bad fits for certain systems: think John Salmons in Sacramento or Richard Jefferson’s first year in San Antonio). JRich is one of the most sought after players in the NBA right now, I think the trade was Gortat, Carter (and his soon to expire contract) and the draft choice for Richardson and Turkoglu’s contract was necessary to balance the $$ (the word on the grapevine is that the Magic wanted Chilldress and the Suns said no). Hedo was a bad player for most of his final season in Orlando (he had an excellent Game 7 in Boston that year but otherwise, cover your eyes). He’s been worse since. I think the initial game plan will be for him to be the first wing player off the bench and he may succeed in that role, especially as a spot up shooter, but if not then JJ Reddick will reclaim that role by the ASB.

    Williard, your theory is elegant, but the facts don’t support it.

  3. Chris Ross says:

    Hey great post I’m happy that I took the time out to read it. Anyways, I was just shocked to see this big blockbuster trade go through and it just makes the NBA season that much more exciting. Hedo Turkoglu going back to the magic with Gilbert along with J-Rich. The Magic really needed a shakeup and I think it will be good for them. Actually, I think it works out pretty decently for all the teams. They seemed to have gotten what they wanted, or gotten rid of what they didn’t want for that matter lol. Also, you think you could check out my blog, cuz I really wanna hear what you have to say.

  4. JGT says:

    I told people that Vince Carter could not effectively replace Hedo, but people didn’t wanna hear it. I was right. Hitting the open man still wins in the NBA.

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