Orlando Magic: 7 Player/Personnel Decisions the Team Needs to Make
After the debacle that was the 2011-12 season, the Orlando Magic enter the offseason with more questions than answers.
Of course, the big question revolves around the future of star Dwight Howard, but there are other decisions the team will need to make heading into next season.
Here are 7 player and personnel decisions the team will need to make this offseason.
No. 1: Who Will Be the GM?
We can all agree that Otis Smith's tenure as Orlando's General Manager will probably come to an end sometime in the next few months.
His tenure has been rocky to say the least. As Grantland's, Bill Simmons joked, "he's the reverse Black Friday—instead of everything being 50 percent off, it's 220 percent on."
Since Otis is out in all likelihood, the Magic will have to decide if they want to address the position internally or externally.
Internally, it is believed that former Magic center/current director of player development Adonal Foyle has been groomed to take the position, with one rumor speculating that Foyle was in charge of all trade deadline operations this past season.
Externally, there are several very intriguing options. These include former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard and former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, among others.
No matter what the Magic decide to do, it's evident that Smith is a dead man walking. Expect a new General Manager next season.
No. 2: Who Will Be the Head Coach?
We can probably have a 500 comment debate about Stan Van Gundy's future as Orlando's coach.
On one hand, he is an upper echelon coach. He has a really good record in both the regular season and postseason, and players like JJ Redick and Jameer Nelson have given him public votes of confidence.
On the other, Orlando's main goal is to appease Dwight. I don't need to remind you about the press conference from earlier this year that made everyone uncomfortable, where Stan told reporters that Dwight asked for him to be fired.
It's evident that there's a schism between the two. Maybe they can patch it up over the offseason, Dwight will realize that Stan's a fantastic coach and Stan will realize that he can be patronizing when talking to his players, something that Dwight doesn't like.
However, it's more likely the Magic have to choose between the two. If I were a betting man, I'd bet the team picks Dwight over Stan, as it's easier to replace a coach than one of the 10 best basketball players on Earth.
Luckily for the Magic, there are several options they can consider. Brian Shaw and Patrick Ewing are both highly regarded assistant coaches looking for their first chance to be a head coach. Nate McMillan, Maurice Cheeks and Mike D'Antoni are former head coaches who have been successful during their tenures in the Association.
There's a chance that Orlando retains Stan Van Gundy next year, but I wouldn't be surprised if they kept him. However, don't be shocked if they show him the door.
No. 3: Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson has pros and cons about him that make him very polarizing among Magic fans.
His pros are that he is a very good teammate, a solid leader and isn't afraid of big moments. A former All-Star, Nelson shoots threes well (38.8 percent for his career) and averaged almost 17 points per game a few years back.
As for his cons, Nelson isn't a physical presence by any means. He's only 6 feet tall, isn't terribly quick and while he is strong, he doesn't overwhelm defenders. Also, despite being a starting point guard on a team with arguably the best post players in the league, he's never averaged more than 6 assists per game in a season.
Nelson has the option to opt out of his current deal, and people are speculating that he will test the market in free agency. Nobody can blame Nelson if he does this: you never know if a team will overpay you in free agency and he could use a fresh start.
Whether or not Orlando attempts to resign Nelson if he opts out depends a lot on what happens with the next slide...
No. 4: Does the Team Sign a Free Agent Point Guard?
The 2012 free agent point guard class is incredibly deep, with names such as Steve Nash, Andre Miller, Chauncey Billups, Jason Terry, Jeremy Lin, Goran Dragic, Randy Foye and Delonte West all hitting the market as unrestricted free agents.
Of course, the crown jewel of this class is Nets PG Deron Williams. It is possible that Williams could still stay with the Nets, as he has a player option worth $17.8 million. Unless Orlando completely guts their roster, they wouldn't have the necessary money to throw his way.
What Orlando does have, however, is a full mid-level exception. It's not crazy to think that one of the aforementioned point guards would accept Orlando's MLE. There's also the possibility that Orlando tries to dump someone's contract with the intent of creating cap space. While Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon's deals probably aren't appealing to anyone, Jason Richardson is a candidate to get moved.
If Orlando can land someone in the Nash/Miller/Linsanity group for their mid-level exception, you can probably assume that Jameer Nelson won't be back. Even if they spend a bit of money for one of those guys, Orlando and Nelson don't appear to have much of a future together.
(If you'd like to see the entire list of free agents this offseason, hop on over to HOOPSWORLD.)
No. 5: Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson showed that he is an absolute beast this past season.
He averaged 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 39.3 percent from downtown and 87.7 percent from the free throw line.
Ryan Anderson is also a restricted free agent, and may put the Magic into an extremely awkward position.
Assuming Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan resign with their current teams (odds that happens: 99.8 percent), you can make a really good case that Ryan Anderson is the best power forward in this class after Brian Scalabrine.
Or let's put it another way: Ryan Anderson will make money this offseason, and lots of it.
Anderson has two red flags: he's a one year wonder and he struggled in the postseason when Howard was out.
But let's be honest, have those ever stopped a team from throwing money at a player before?
Orlando will do everything they can to retain Anderson's services if the price is right. If the price tag gets to be too high, Orlando may cut their losses and let Anderson go.
No. 6: JJ Redick
JJ Redick can be very valuable to the Orlando Magic this offseason.
Let's get the first option out of the way: Orlando keeps the soon-to-be 28 year old gunner. He stays in his role next year of 3 point specialist/energy guy off the bench and continues to contribute to Orlando.
If that doesn't happen, things get much more intriguing. Orlando has until July 8th to decide what they want to do with Redick.
They can certainly keep him, but his contract isn't guaranteed and the Magic can waive him to open up a little bit of cap room. This would give them the opportunity to have some more money to give to Ryan Anderson or one of the free agent point guards from a few slides back.
If Orlando doesn't waive him, Redick may be the team's most appealing trade chip (along with the 19th pick in the upcoming draft). It's entirely plausible that Orlando keeps Redick, then looks to package him with their first round pick and one or two other players to get someone via trade.
Would Atlanta agree to a Redick/Jason Richardson/Earl Clark/first rounder for Josh Smith deal? What about Redick/Glen Davis/a bevy of picks for Carlos Boozer? Maybe Redick/Hedo Turkoglu/picks/cash for Rudy Gay? While all of these scenarios are unlikely, maybe Orlando could get lucky and pull one of these deals off.
I'd bet that Orlando will keep JJ Redick this offseason. If they do, prepare to have his name be thrown into a bunch of trade scenarios as Orlando's most desirable asset.
No. 7: Dwight Howard
You had to see this coming.
What Orlando does with Dwight Howard can affect the franchise's immediate and long-term futures.
Immediately, Orlando needs to decide if they're going to keep the guy everyone but Skip Bayless and Chris Webber thinks is the best center alive right now. Magic CEO Alex Martins has said that Howard either signs a deal or else, "we're going to have to make the decisions that are necessary so that we don't go through a season like we went through this year."
Of course, this could mean that Smith and Van Gundy are fired while the team is gutted in the attempt to make Dwight happy. It is more likely that this means Orlando will look into trading their superstar.
I won't bore you with possible trade scenarios (you can bore yourself right here), but you can probably guess that almost every team would be very interested in acquiring the six-time All Star.
Long-term, any possible trade involving Howard would have to work. A player of Howard's caliber would be almost impossible to replace, but the assets they receive in return would have to do their best. If the team makes the wrong trade and doesn't get at least one very good player back for Howard, the Magic will face a long, arduous rebuilding phase. Just look at the New Orleans Hornets after they traded Chris Paul.
All of this can be nullified if Howard signs an extension. By himself, Howard is a game changer at both ends of the court, and having a player like that can carry almost any team to the playoffs. His signing of an extension would make Orlando an extremely appealing place for free agents, and could possibly lead to another superstar to sign with the team once the Magic receives the sufficient cap space.
Regardless of what happens with Howard, Van Gundy or anyone else, don't be surprised if there is a radically different Orlando Magic team that takes the floor at the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
Follow Bill DiFilippo on Twitter @bflip33.
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