Orlando Magic: 5 Reasons GM Otis Smith Must Be Axed Following This Season
Six seasons, five playoff births and one brief Finals appearance are the product of Otis Smith's reign as Orlando Magic general manager, but it's time for the Magic to move on, and part ways with Smith.
When the Magic hired Smith as co-general manager in 2005, the future looked bright for a team led by the then 20-year-old Dwight Howard. Each year with Smith brought trades and personnel moves to build a championship team around Howard.
Over the years, Howard and Smith's relationship has the two at odds, and Howard is expected to leave the Magic after this season.
After earning himself a contract extension following the team's Finals appearance in 2009, Smith (like Howard) will become a free agent as his contract expires after this season.
I'd like to point out some key mistakes made over the years, urging the Magic to say goodbye to Smith as their general manager.
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J.J. Redick is no slouch of a basketball player. After a phenomenal career at Duke, this season has been his best as a pro as he is averaging 11.2 points per game and shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc.
The only problem is that Redick is the best draft pick Smith has selected since being in Orlando. On one hand, Smith has only had one lottery pick to work with, but drafts are deeper than the lottery, and the Magic have had a poor draft strategy.
Smith has drafted 11 players for Orlando, but only three remain on the roster: Redick, Daniel Orton and DeAndre Liggins.
Neither Orton nor Liggins have seen playing time or shown any promise to becoming legitimate starters.
Smith's best pick was probably when he spent the No. 22 overall pick on Courtney Lee in 2008. Unfortunately for Smith, he traded Lee after his rookie season in an effort to transform the returning Eastern Conference champs.
Blowing Up the 2008 Finals Team
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Everything was going great for Smith and the Magic in the 2008 season. His first-round draft pick Courtney Lee was proving his worth, and Rashard Lewis was actually playing up to the expectations from the huge contract he signed in 2007.
That's of course right until they ran into the brick wall that was the Lakers in the Finals. Orlando lost the series four games to one, and Smith decided changes needed to happen.
While it was wise for Smith to stay active after the successful season, his mistake was that he did too much. Smith sent away then-valuable backup point guard Rafer Alston and Lee to the New Jersey Nets for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.
Smith also sent Hedo Turkoglu to the Toronto Raptors on a sign-and-trade deal, as he thought Turkoglu was demanding too much money.
These moves didn't work out for the Magic as Carter's age became instantly noticeable. In his first year in Orlando, his 16.6 points per game average was the lowest in his career, only to be followed by averaging 15.1 points the next season.
Anderson is now a starter filling the void of Lewis as the three-point shooting power forward. Averaging 16.2 points per is a good sign, but Anderson is still far from an elite player for the Magic.
Acquiring Gilbert Arenas
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Much like the post-Finals meltdown, Smith seemed to have another panic attack in 2010 after the Magic had lost five of six games. After realizing the mistakes of his last blockbuster trade, he made another.
Smith sent Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus to the Phoenix Suns for Jason Richardson, Earl Clark and the return of Turkoglu.
Later in the day after the Phoenix trade, Smith made another deal sending Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas.
These trades were supposed to give the team a big push and improve them all together. While the Magic still made the playoffs, they were knocked out in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks.
Richardson and Turkoglu are still starting for the Magic, but the team is far from the contender they once were.
Bad Sense of Team Chemistry
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Smith has always made sure that he considers Dwight Howard's feelings towards any move the team make. He has kept Jameer Nelson and even went back to get Turkoglu.
The problem here is that Howard should not have been the team's only concern. This is easy to say now with Howard's departure in the near future, but it is clear Smith was not on the same page as the players he dealt.
Over the past six seasons, Smith has created several different starting lineups simply by moving players around too often. Coach Stan Van Gundy has not been able to coach players up because they aren't in Orlando long enough.
A team needs to grow together if they want to compete at the highest level. Smith's strategy was not based on chemistry, but instead based only on surrounding Howard with the appropriate players.
Mistakes Have Finally Caught Up with Smith
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Throughout his time with the Magic, Smith has been cleaning up after his own mistakes. The situations Smith has put the Magic through were even awkward at times.
His mistake of paying Rashard Lewis too much ended in acquiring Gilbert Arenas, which did not make up for the lost dollars.
Smith let Turkoglu go, and then decided he was an important facet to the team.
There have been highs but unfortunately for Smith, too many lows to keep him as Magic general manager.