If I were to tell you that Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki is set to make a near identical salary to an Orlando Magic player, you would almost certainly assume I'm talking about Dwight Howard. But, I'm actually talking about Gilbert Arenas, who was acquired via trade last season with the Washington Wizards for Rashard Lewis.
Arenas is set to make nearly $21 million in 2012, which is superstar money. The problem is, Arenas is not putting up superstar numbers. In fact, what Arenas averaged last year with the Magic (8.0 points, 3.2 assists) was more like numbers a struggling rookie might put up.
The more alarming problem is, Arenas is on the books through the 2014-2015 season, whereas Rashard's contract ends after 2013, which would have opened up a lot of cap space for the Magic to work with.
Otis Smith's other blockbuster trade of the 2011 season, and to me the worse of all, sent Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus to the Phoenix Suns in return for guard Jason Richardson, forward Hedo Turkoglu and power forward Earl Clark.
What's most disturbing about this trade is that Otis Smith sent the best backup center in the NBA, Gortat, to the Phoenix Suns for essentially nothing.
Richardson is now a free-agent and Clark has never seen true court time. Turkoglu averaged over 10 points and five assists last year, but those numbers don't match up to a player due to make $11.5 million next season and $12.5 million the following year.
Do you think general manager Otis Smith should still be the Orlando Magic's GM?
If the Magic still had Gortat on their roster and were to lose Howard to free-agency, having Gortat to fill in for Howard would help ease the blow. Now, the Magic have absolutely no backup center, and did I forget to mention that Smith threw in a first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns as well to sweeten the deal?
If that is not enough reason to hate that trade as a Magic fan, maybe Carter's $18 million expiring contract is. Carter's contract ends in 2012, as does Howard's.
Oh, how nice it would have been to have $18 million to work with next summer to put towards signing a star player like Chris Paul.
Now the biggest problem the Magic have to face is this:
How will the Magic retain Howard when they have no money to deal for a meaningful player?
If Howard walks, you can thank Smith. Smith has managed to make the Magic the second-highest paid team in the NBA despite having a roster that could not even make it to the second round of the playoffs in 2011.
So why does Smith retain his job as general manager?
Maybe Magic owner Rich DeVos likes the fact that Smith is active as a manager and has never been content, even when Orlando made the Finals in 2009. Smith has continued to blow up the roster ever since, though it has never actually benefited the Magic.
The mid-season trades from last season could haunt the Magic for years to come, and the question is, how long will Smith still be in office for Orlando if it causes Howard to walk?