It's been on every Orlando Magic fan's mind since the 2009 NBA Finals went in the Lakers' favor. What can the organization do this offseason to make sure that what happened against Kobe and L.A. doesn't happen again?
It's clear from Otis Smith in the front office to Dwight Howard down on the court—bringing an NBA Championship to O-Town is the goal; we're not interested in merely making it to the playoffs. So, how can the Magic make it over the hill in 2010?
I know six is a weird number for a countdown, but hey, I believe there are seven things the Magic need to work on. They're not in any order of significance, they're all important for Orlando's growth. As the hype of the NBA Finals ends and the offseason plays out, I'm sure we'll know a lot more about what needs to be done to get the Magic a championship win.
Let me know what you think, and if you think there are any other issues that need to be raised, I would be interested to hear them.
Almost immediately after the Lakers won the 2009 NBA Championship, Hedo Turkoglu let the sports world know that he wanted to stay with the Magic only if the price is right.
On Tuesday, June 16, Hedo Turkoglu confirmed that he would opt out of his contract to become a free agent in two weeks, and hopes "everything will work out for both sides and I can stay here (Orlando) because I became Turkoglu here."
He's opting out of the last year of his six-year, $36 million deal.
Turkoglu said multiple times that this decision was made in order to secure himself and his family.
The problem with Turkoglu demanding more money is that the Magic don't exactly have a lot of cap space left for 2009-2010. In fact, if the Magic want to keep the much-needed Hedo, they might have to exceed their soft cap this year and deliver a luxury tax to the NBA.
Really, if the team hadn't offered Rashard Lewis such a lucrative contract, the Magic's money situation might not be so dire right now. The more I take a look at Lewis' $18,876,000 million salary for 2008, the more I understand Hedo's position. If you're not up to speed, Lewis is making more money in the next four seasons than Dwight Howard.
Who will be on the chopping block first in order to secure Hedo Turkoglu? Probably Tony Battie. Next year, Battie is set to make $6,292,000 million.
In the next couple weeks, we will know a lot more about the Turkoglu situation. When asked if he might take less to re-sign with the Magic, Turkoglu smiled and said, "Depends on how much less it is. Look, I have good stuff going on here. I'm not stupid."
I really think it's in the Magic's best interest for Marcin Gortat to stay put. He is, after all, the "Polish Hammer". All joking aside, though, there aren't a lot of "big men" out there available for the $711,517 salary that Gortat played for this past year.
The game is all about brawn these days; finesse is out as the premier way to win an NBA game. Gortat's skill continues to increase, and he's sure to be a solid investment for the Magic this offseason.
Unfortunately, right now, Courtney Lee is most famous for his legendary miss in this year's NBA Finals.
If you live under a rock, Lee is the rookie that botched Hedo Turkoglu's nearly perfect pass with only 0.6 seconds to go in Game Two.
The first thing came into my mind after Lee's missed alley-oop layup is his lack of experience, especially in a Finals situation.
How would you feel if you were fresh out of college, guarding Kobe Bryant?
I guess I can't blame the guy for choking—it is, after all, the coaching staff's job to decide who is ready to make it happen in game play. However, Courtney Lee is an investment, and should improve a lot in the offseason if he works hard and the coaching staff spends some quality time with him.
In the 2008-09 season, Magic SF Rashard Lewis made a team-high $17,238,000 million. Next season, he's slated to make over $18,000,000 million.
I think it's safe to say that Rashard Lewis hasn't played up to his superstar salary.
He's being paid to be the man, and Magic fans graciously have not reminded him of that with any malice. We continue to be polite, but we also keep waiting.
If Rashard plays like the $18,000,000 million superstar he is supposed to be in the 2009-10 season, the Magic will be very strong.
Diligently developing Dwight—it can only help.
Probably the most physically gifted player in the NBA, and only 23 years old, Dwight Howard has a lot of time left in the league. His frustration got him into a little bit of trouble this year in game play (see Dwight elbowing Samuel Dalembert in Game 5 of the Magic-76ers series), but I honestly wasn't surprised about it. I'm two years younger than Superman, and can only imagine just how mentally and physically taxing it is to be a young player in the NBA.
As Howard continues to grow more experienced as an NBA powerhouse, the overall quality of Magic game play will obviously improve. Patrick "Chewing" will continue to mentor Dwight, and good things can only come from that.
In very early February 2009, Jameer Nelson suffered a torn labrum, devastating Magic fans who wondered what kind of impact the injury would have on the rest of the season.
Nelson sat on the sidelines at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game due to his injury, despite being chosen. Look, we know Nelson is an All-Star, and it was a lot to ask him to return during the 2009 Playoffs and be at that star-caliber status.
However, there's no limit on Nelson's potential for the 2009-2010 season. If the Magic continue to heal and re-develop Jameer after his long hiatus from regular play, the Magic should be that much better.
Magic fans, I hope this inspired you to get excited about the changes being made during the offseason and the awesome time that will be the 2009-10 NBA season.
I will keep you all updated on what goes on regarding the Magic's offseason moves. Until then, keep the spirit alive!
Blue and white ignite!