It has been an eventful few days for the Orlando Magic.
In addition to getting a verbal agreement from the Sonics' Rashard Lewis, the Magic have withdrawn their qualifying offer to Darko Milicic and announced their new coaching staff.
Let's take the developments one at a time.
Lewis is a great pickup—certainly a big upgrade over Hedo Turkoglu at the small forward position.
Apparently Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson were involved in the courtship process...and I guess they did a pretty good job. It's great to see that kind of franchise commitment from two of the team's young stars. Hopefully they'll be able to lure more prospective teammates down the road.
On the court, Lewis' superiority to Turkoglu is evident in minutes (39.9 to 25.2), rebounds (5.8 to 3.8), and points per game (16.6 to 10.5). I'd be inclined to say that the Lewis signing would definitely bump Orlando into the second round of the playoffs, except...
The agreement with Lewis meant the Magic had to withdraw their offer to Darko Milicic. This move will hurt the team.
Darko came out of his shell in the playoffs, and will develop into a great player wherever he lands. Our starting five could have been Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Rashard Lewis, Darko Milicic, and Dwight Howard. Instead we're going to have an aging PF with no giddy-up—Tony Battie—shouldering the load in the frontcourt.
Losing Darko also leaves us without a backup big man. My only hope is that there's an angle to the story that nobody's talking about: Maybe Marcin Gortat is ready to come to the NBA....or the Magic are being coy when talking about Fran Vasquez...or we're finally ready to give James Augustine a chance.
Whatever the ultimate outcome, it'd BETTER pay off...or this move is going to be remembered as a turning point for the franchise when Milicic finally blossoms.
As for the coaching staff: Besides Stan Van Gundy (whom I CANNOT wait to see!), the Magic have also added Brendan Malone, Steve Clifford, Bob Beyer, and Patrick Ewing to the bench.
Yes, that Patrick Ewing. I think I might still have the replica jersey I bought when Ewing was on the Magic for that one season.
The rest of the staff looks solid. Clifford has NBA experience as a Rockets assistant, and compiled a record of 86-36 as the top man at Adelphi University. Malone has logged almost two decades in the NBA, most recently as a scout for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was a head coach in Toronto during the Raptors' first season. Beyer, finally, was an assistant under Bob Knight at Texas Tech, and helped lead the Red Raiders to two postseason appearances.
The 2007 offseason has been an active one in Orlando and of course only time will tell how things shake out. Here's hoping the future is everything it promises to be.