Hey, we can't fault them for trying.
With word coming in that the Orlando Magic are interested in one of the top free agents set to hit the market in Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Jamal Crawford, it's becoming apparent that the team is now willing to do whatever it takes to keep their All-Star center in Dwight Howard to stick with the team rather than possibly leaving in the 2012 offseason.
The Magic are looking to acquire Crawford via sign-and-trade. While we can't judge quite yet, the chances would be large that he'd start at shooting guard with Jason Richardson set to either ride the bench or jet during free agency. Jamal has said that he'd rather start than come off the bench and he'd get his wish in Orlando by starting at 2-guard while playing alongside the most dominant force in the NBA in Howard.
Not only would he be playing alongside Dwight, but he'd also benefit greatly off of the big mans presence and influence as well as the Orlando Magic's style of offense. The team has been reliant on a system that focuses more on shooting from beyond the arc and attempting to out-score the opponent by hitting as many threes as the other team hits twos.
Crawford has always been a consistently solid three-point shooter and would thrive greatly with the Magic as he'd assume the control of main perimeter threat by replacing Richardson. He'd find himself receiving open looks as well considering that Howard's presence in the paint has always drawn double-teams which could mean the two working an inside-outside game with both players benefiting off of each others influence.
Jamal regressed last season, averaging only 14 points per while converting on a lowly 34 percent of his three-pointers. He is, however, only two years removed from winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award with the Hawks and is still easily one of the most lethal and dangerous players you could possibly be matched up against due to his perimeter shooting.
Adding Crawford would be a tremendous help to the Magic and their chances of keeping Howard around, but, unfortunately, it's probably going to take more than another sharpshooter to make the Magic a championship team and to keep Howard around. With the team having to compete with the likes of the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, the Magic are going to have to spend their money in the right places and putting it all on Crawford won't do it.
Even though a sign-and-trade could possibly mean the team getting rid of Hedo Turkoglu's bloated contract, the Magic would still be over the cap after bringing in Crawford. Their potential lineup could be Jameer Nelson at point, Crawford at SG, a player to be named later at SF, Brandon Bass at PF and Dwight Howard at center. It's a solid lineup, but that's not a championship-caliber one.
Think about it. What is Jamal Crawford going to do for this team other than replacing a three-point shooter with another three-point shooter? We understand that Crawford is one of the most dangerous perimeter threats in the league and has had three 50-point games with three different teams, but how exactly does he differ from Richardson who has a higher shooting percentage from beyond the arc and has averaged more three-pointers per game than Jamal?
It even occurred last year when Richardson converted on two three-pointers per game while connecting on 38 percent of his three-point attempts. On a team where three-point shooting is the main focus, replacing a three-point shooter with another three-point shooter isn't going to help in any way as the team will be right back to where they were minus a horrid contract with the loss of Turkoglu.
The Magic don't need another three-point shooter, they need the exact opposite. Acquiring Crawford shouldn't even be an option for the team as they should actually be in pursuit of the likes of the New Orleans Hornets' David West or the Denver Nuggets' Nene Hilario. Both players are power forwards and would improve that frontcourt in a huge way by replacing Bass as the starter at the 4.
Orlando has plenty of three-point shooters and adding a mid-range and another post threat surely wouldn't hurt. This team needs to start deviating from the approach that they've taken into every game by shooting from long distance on offense and then leaving the defense up to Howard. They need to start working the ball inside on more occasions and have the ball circulate through Dwight rather than along the perimeter where low percentage shots are frequently taken.
It's understandable that the team would pursue Crawford in order to obtain one of the top free agents while also possibly letting Turk's contract loose, but it's not the right move that this team needs to make in such a dire situation. Adding Crawford to this equation isn't going to change much as they would be replacing a 37 percent three-point shooter with one who shoots 35 percent.
That's not going to keep Dwight in Orlando. The organization needs to start making the right moves by getting their mind out of this three-point shooting idea and actually making an effort to sign players that can help bolster the frontcourt. If you have a player like Howard taking up all of the attention from within the perimeter, you need to have another player that also spends time within 25 feet of the rim and can attract attention as well.
No team is scared of Brandon Bass. He's the only other player on this team that actually spends his time near the basket by making shots in the post and hitting from the mid-range and it's not a good thing that he's probably the second best post presence that they have. Unless this team has an ace up their sleeve and know something we don't know about Daniel Orton, then there's no reason why they shouldn't go after West, Hilario or any other power forward that could attract some attention.
Basketball games aren't track meets anymore. The 1960s were a long time ago and championship teams are made out of squads that have set offenses and can thrive in a half-court set that have a post presence to be relied on. The Magic should consider themselves lucky that they have a player like Howard who is last of a dying breed of centers that know how to score. They need to make the moves to keep him around or face being in obscurity for a decade.
Adding another three-point shooter won't help. Pursuing a power forward that can bring some attention and adding a capable mid-range threat is the more viable and beneficial option for a Magic team that's looking for the right answer in order to stay among the Eastern Conference's elite.
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