Orlando is hoping to return to their elite status in the Eastern Conference
After losing five out of their last six games, the Orlando Magic finally decided to shake things up with two significant trades.
Trade No. 1: Rashard Lewis traded to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas.
Rashard Lewis had become a scapegoat in Orlando for some of their offensive and defensive struggles. As the Magic's highest paid player, some of the criticism was warranted even though he probably did not deserve a max contract. His overall play had become too inconsistent, having only scored over 20 points three times this season, and is having his worst statistical year since his second year in the league.
This trade frees up playing time for Brandon Bass, an under-sized power forward that loves to get his nose dirty and is strong around the rim. Orlando had been using a lineup that consisted of two power forwards, however Lewis' production was simply unsatisfactory.
In return, Orlando receives guard Gilbert Arenas. After becoming obsolete in Washington after the drafting of John Wall (and the offseason acquisition of Kirk Hinrich), Arenas was in dire need of a new beginning. The Wizards were also looking to move on past his negative image after Arenas' off-court issues last season involving bringing firearms into the lockeroom.
In acquiring Arenas, the Orlando Magic now have four point guards: Arenas, Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon and Jason Wiliams. In Arenas, they have a point guard who is capable of also playing shooting guard, the aptitude to create his own shot and the ability to score points in bunches. Orlando may also decide to bring Arenas off their bench and allow JJ Redick or Quentin Richardson to start instead.
Financially, Orlando is swallowing more money since Arenas has more years left on his contract, which never decreases the $17 million/year mark.
If Arenas is a starter at point guard or shooting guard, he will have a tough time guarding either Rajon Rondo or Ray Allen. Both Rondo and Allen are more than adequate defenders and shouldn't have too much trouble with Arenas.
However, if Arenas comes of the bench, he will most likely be facing either Delonte West or Nate Robinson. Without doubt, Arenas is a better player and will have the advantage in those respective matchups.
If Orlando and Boston meet in the playoffs, Arenas will become a large x-factor in order for the Magic to defeat the Celtics.
Trade No. 2: Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and a 2011 first-round draft pick along with cash to the Phoenix Suns for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark
Orlando never got want they really wanted from Vince Carter, which was a playmaker that steps up during big games and big moments. Defensively, Carter could not be counted on but wasn't necessarily a huge liability. Of the offensive end, there is no doubt that Carter could score, but was not aggressive enough for Orlando's liking.
Mickael Pietrus was Orlando's best perimeter player. He had guarded the opposing team's best perimeter player and had a solid grasp of Orlando's system. The bottom line is the Magic had too many other guards with better offensive skills and Pietrus fell out of favor.
Marcin Gortat was a solid backup for Dwight Howard. He was never an offensive weapon, but did take smart shots when he had the ball in his hands. Gortat is not a lock down defender, but he certainly doesn't shy away from contact. Similar to Pietrus, Gortat was never going to see big minutes in Orlando, especially playing behind Howard.
In return, Orlando acquires old fan favorite Hedo Turkoglu, who was a vital member of their run to the NBA Finals a couple seasons ago. It was believed that Turkoglu was slowing offensively and wasn't going to be the same playmaker that Orlando fell in love with.
Hedo struggled during his time in Toronto, barely averaging over 10 points a game and wasn't a great fit with the Phoenix Suns either, averaging less than 10 points a game.
Jason Richardson provides Orlando with an athletic wingman who can score in a multitude of ways. He is averaging 19.3 points/game and will be looked upon to be a consistent scorer for the Magic.
After reviewing both trades, Orlando has become a weak defensive team. They still have no viable option in guarding either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. Boston will also have the advantage, once healthy, in the paint. The Celtics have more quality big men while Orlando is counting heavily on Dwight Howard.
Orlando is currently ranked 21st in the NBA in scoring (down to 96.9 from 102.8 last season) and are hoping these moves and can improve their standing. It doesn't seem that Orlando is done making moves, especially with four point guards on their roster.