NBA AM: Finally Some Fight In Orlando
Finally Some Fight In Orlando: When the Orlando Magic opened their pre-season versus the Miami HEAT last Sunday, the results were surprising. The Magic were worked in almost every aspect of the game and Magic center Dwight Howard looked like he had checked out on his team, starting a firestorm of trade rumors and speculation about Howard’s commitment to his team.
Last night for most of the first half it seemed like much of the same. However, in the second half an interesting thing happened – the Orlando Magic showed up to play.
Magic new comer Glen “Big Baby” Davis anchored a Magic unit that erased and 20-plus point first half deficit.
After the game Davis said he was glad he could show his new city his skill set, hitting 7-of-8 from the field and making several impressive plays on defense.
“This is my new home,” explained Davis. “To come here and show everybody what I can do.”
The Magic gave Davis a four-year, $26 million contract earlier this month, a deal Davis understands had some doubting the move.
“There is a question mark,” Davis mocked. “’Who is this guy? We know what he did for the Celtics, but Orlando gave him some money. He’s a fat guy and he’s out of shape, and what’s up?’.”
“This is the new me. This is the Glen Davis I have always dreamed and imagined I can be. A pro who can stay consistent with his weight and bring the intensity every day to help this team win.”
Magic center Dwight Howard looked disinterested in the first meeting with the HEAT in Miami last Sunday, however last night he responded with a 15-point, nine-rebound outing and led his team on and off the floor.
“Our energy level picked up.” explained Howard. “We ran more. We saw a lot of good things, especially the rookies; they came in and played some great defense.”
One thing that surfaced yesterday was news of a one-hour meeting between Howard and Magic coach Stan van Gundy, a meeting Van Gundy classified as a great clear the air meeting.
“Me and Stan did have a long talk,” revealed Howard. “The biggest thing I told Stan is that we have to be on the same page no matter what goes on, on the court. No matter if we don’t like what’s being called, or I don’t like what’s being called or whatever it may be. We have to show the team that we’re on the same page, that we are on one accord.
“Even tonight. He kind of sat back and he just let me and Jameer really lead the team. He called the plays and did all that stuff. Me and Jameer did what we are supposed to do on the court and that’s make sure everyone played hard and make sure everybody stayed focused on the game.
“One thing I told Stan is that our relationship, we have to have a great relationship. Our relationship has to grow in order for us to get where we want to get to. We have to grow and be leaders for this team.”
The Magic open their regular season on Christmas day in Oklahoma City versus the Thunder and then return to play host to the Houston Rockets on Monday.
The Magic released guard Gabe Pruitt in order to get their roster down to 15 in advance of the start of the NBA regular season, so it seems for now this is what the Magic will look like going into the season.
Dwight Watch: Sources close to the situation in Orlando revealed last night that reports of a deal with New Jersey involving the Magic were indeed true, and that all aspects of the club had agreed to a deal that would have landed Howard in New Jersey in exchange for a package of assets.
So much so Howard had told teammates that he was gone.
However, when the deal was presented to Magic ownership for approval, the DeVos family shot the deal down, at which point ownership pulled Howard off the trade market.
Sources explained the situation as a war of interests involving Howard, pointing to the variety of voices that that have been urging Howard out of Orlando from agents and business managers to friends and family.
The Magic feel like Howard has been away from the team for what amounts to seven months and that the team needs to do a lot of relationship repair before making the decision on what to do with Howard.
There still remains an inevitability to an eventual trade involving Howard, but the Magic want to be sure they have really lost Howard before pushing him out the door, mainly because of the conflicting and waffling message from Dwight Howard himself.
The Magic have stopped talking trades involving Howard and are hoping a strong start to the season and the embrace from the team might sway Dwight from the ledge.
There is also a sense that Dwight’s trade value will go up as the season gets underway.
If it becomes clear that the relationship is completely unsalvageable, which sources say it still is not, the Magic may revisit dealing their marquee big man, but for now Dwight is genuinely off the market and the Magic are in full on TLC-mode with Dwight.
Extension Time: In case you missed it Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose inked a monster five-year, $94 million contract extension yesterday using the new salary cap provision bearing his name.
The Derrick Rose provision allows the Bulls to give Rose a new deal that kicks in next year based on 30% of the salary cap, because of how well he has done in his first three years in the league, namely being named a MVP last season.
There are several other notables from the 2008 draft class that are also eligible to ink new deals including Minnesota’s Michael Beasley (2nd overall pick), OJ Mayo (3rd overall pick), OKC’s Russell Westbrook (4th overall pick), Kevin Love (5th overall pick) and Eric Gordon, now with the New Orleans Hornets (7th overall pick)
All of the players drafted in the first round in 2008 can be extended this year and their home teams have until January 25th to reach a new deal.
If the both sides cannot or do not reach a deal, all can become restricted free agents next summer and in 2013 could hit unrestricted free agency.
The Bulls were under no obligation to extend Rose, as they could have controlled his future for at least two more years. However it was pretty smart for the Bulls to do the deal with Rose as soon as possible.
Teams like Minnesota might be better suited waiting on deals as they would in essence be bidding against themselves and with Rose’s monster $94 million as the ceiling, teams may be better served waiting a year and seeing if the price comes down.
Sources close to the situation say Kevin Love’s camp is looking for a monster commitment from Minnesota, while Russell Westbrook is looking for a near max offer himself.
It’s unclear if either will get their new deal before the deadline to extend next month.
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