Orlando Magic Make Key Trades: Did They Save Their Playoff Hopes?

Thomas H.Correspondent IDecember 27, 2010

Van Gundy Takes Flight with new look Magic
Van Gundy Takes Flight with new look MagicSam Greenwood/Getty Images

Since trading with both the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns, the Orlando Magic have gone undefeated against two teams that had both won more than 10 games in a row, the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs. 

The trade sent away key parts of the Magic in Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and backup center Marcin Gortat. They gained three veteran stars in Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and former Magic Hedo Turkoglu.

The recent wins have ignited the quieted careers of the troubled Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu, who struggled in short stints in Phoenix and Toronto.

Or have they? Yes, Gilbert Arenas escaped his backup spot behind rookie John Wall in Washington and much trouble from last year's gun incident. Yet his statistical numbers are down from his playing time in Orlando, as he shoots 29% from the field and averages 10 less points. The points are largely because of his smaller minutes, but the shooting percentage has been poor and inconsistent.

Though he is a happier Gilbert, his numbers are below those of Rashard Lewis, who was traded away in hopes of improvement. Rashard's numbers have improved in Washington, as his points and rebounds are both on the rise. 

So far, it is clear that the trade for Gilbert, at least statistically, has been a poor move. 

The Suns dealt Earl Clark, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and a first round draft pick on the same day as the Arenas trade.

Two strong scorers and a deep bench player for a depleting veteran, two bench players and a draft pick. It seems like a great victory for the Magic front office.

So far, 29 year old veteran Jason Richardson has struggled with the Magic, playing the same minutes, but having his scoring cut in half while also shooting much worse from the field. His 3 point shooting fell from 28% to 41%. 

Only Hedo Turkoglu seems to fit in the Magic offensive system, as he looks refurbished and again a star in Orlando. His scoring numbers are up, but his field goal percentage and three point shooting are both considerably down. He is passing much better though, and this seems to be a success for the Magic. 

So, how great have these bench players been playing for the Magic anyways?

Really well.

Mickael Pietrus started very quietly off the Magic bench, but burst against the Clippers, with 25 points and 5 for 8 from three point range. He has always had the ability for big games, but this is a good sign for the Suns.

Marcin Gortat is the best bench center in the league by far, but was widely not talked about due to the star in Dwight Howard. He will definitely shine on the Suns, as he sits behind injury-plagued Lopez. His biggest game so far also came against the Clippers, as he warmed up to shoot 5 for 10 from the field and picked up 5 boards. 

Vince Carter will return later this year, and though he is injured and is getting old for the league, he still has a big-game mentality. Not to mention a first round pick, letting the Suns have a deep draft this year.

The Suns probably did not threaten their chances at making the playoffs, though they currently sit 9th in the West. They were falling apart before the trade and needed some kind of change. The chances of any playoff run is remote for them, and they know that.

The Magic had been collapsing after their quick start, but two consecutive big wins against the two best teams in the league have made people turn their heads.

Jameer Nelson is having the best season of recent memory, but how long can Dwight Howard play this many minutes at the demanding center position? Though his numbers will not likely falter as long as he is healthy, he is now at risk.

Brandon Bass will flourish now in a Glen Davis-like role in Orlando, his consistency will become a large part of this Orlando turnaround.

Trading a key veteran and bench players for three scorers could be a negative outcome for the Magic though, as they try to get to the same level as the Heat and Celtics. It is doubtful this trade will save their season, as the wear and tear gets to Dwight Howard and the three older players they received.

Watch out for an early exit in the playoffs for the Magic, but also watch out for a very different Suns team to come this year and the next.