NBA PM: Dwight Howard partying as Magic sink?
“Celebrating my boy @peeweekirkland bday tonight,” the tweet read. “I’ll see y’all there.”
Magic center Dwight Howard was simply letting everyone know about his friend James Kirkland’s birthday celebration—an Orlando bash that is to be co hosted by fellow Atlanta native Josh Smith and will also feature appearances by people named D.J. Young Smitchell, D.J. Nice and BET’s D.J. Q45 (whoever they are).
The only problem is, the Magic previously told reporters that the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year is in Los Angeles seeing a back specialist, which is probably why the tweet was removed from Howard’s timeline. Now it’s important to note, Howard could have agreed to this engagement weeks ago and could potentially skip the event in light of his recent back issues–and there are issues.
“It’s back spasms, basically, caused by bruising and getting pounded,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said on Thursday, as quoted by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
“It’s not a disk problem or anything, but anybody who’s been through back problems knows sometimes they resolve more quickly than others,” Van Gundy continued. “We’re heading down the stretch now, so as much as we’d like to get everybody together and have ‘em out there and playing, we’ve also got to get healthy. It’s a tough time.”
It’s easy to understand the consternation among Magic fans who have seen Howard miss four of the last six games, especially after reading about how precautious the team has been with Howard and his ailing back. (Even Kirkland has a right to complain after Howard’s picture dominated the flier for his birthday)
Orlando has lost six of its last eight contests and has gone from the third seed to the sixth seed in the East largely because of Howard’s back; so any late-night celebrating on his behalf looks like a slap in the face to the fans and organization (as we mentioned, there is a chance he’s blowing this off). Heck, flying around on an airplane is a lot to ask of someone with a bad back.
Van Gundy’s claim that Howard had been trying to get him fired is still a fresh wound, and the franchise as a whole had been jumping over itself to prevent its star from opting out of his contract this summer. When Howard decided to stay in Orlando right before the trade deadline, the Magic faithful thought the “Dwightmare” was over.
Turns out it’s just beginning.
For the first time in a while, the Orlando Magic go into a home game against the Atlanta Hawks tonight, and they’re not heavily favored. After tormenting the dysfunctional Hawks for years, the Magic have exposed their own infighting, insecurity and lack of direction. Now they’re the Hawks.
The plan was to keep Howard from leaving, right? So now that he’s on board for this year and next, shouldn’t the team be free to move forward and challenge the Chicago Bulls and Miami HEAT for Eastern Conference supremacy?
One league scout told HOOPSWORLD, that’s a lost cause.
“I think the Magic are done,” he said. “That’s not to say that they’ll go out with a whimper, but they are so volatile and I think they’re so broken right now that they’re not a threat in any way.”
The results speak for themselves. Orlando was 22-12 on Feb. 22nd and have gone 12-12 ever since, losing to such low-level teams as the Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.
In Tuesday’s loss to Washington the Magic conceded 24 points and 13 rebounds to Kevin Seraphin and blew an 11-point first-quarter lead by scoring just 12 points in the second frame and yielding 33 in the fourth.
Without Howard in the middle to keep Washington’s defense from overloading the perimeter, Orlando—the league’s most prolific 3-point shooting team—made just 11 of 35 attempts from beyond the arc and finished the game shooting 36.6% from the field.
The Magic aren’t in danger of missing the playoffs or anything like that. They have a three-game lead over the 76ers for the sixth spot in the East, which means they could be facing the Indiana Pacers in the first round. As luck would have it, our scout said, that’s probably the best matchup they could have hoped for.
“As good as Indy has been, I’m just not sold that they’re built for playoff success,” he said. “I’m not going to predict Orlando would beat them, but if I’m Orlando, that’s who I want to play. They’re lined up as well as can be.”
Still, don’t expect any miracles from a team that has clearly given up on itself.
Maloofs want new negotiations
The Kings’ $391 million arena proposal might be done.
Co-owner George Maloof hosted a news conference on Friday in which he accused mayor and former Phoenix Suns point guard Kevin Johnson of denying the franchise a response to a non-binding term sheet, which both sides agreed to on Feb. 27th.
Maloof claims to have 14 questions and objections to the term sheet and says he has not received a response from Johnson.
“Where’s our term sheet?” Maloof asked during the press conference, as quoted by USA Today’s J. Michael Falgoust. “Why haven’t you commented on our term sheet?
“Isn’t that normal business practice,” he continued. “When you buy a house, you mark up the purchase agreement, you send it back to the guy that’s selling it to you and you hope to hear back. That’s 24 to 48 hours. Not seven weeks.”
Johnson, who is currently in New York, wrote an open letter late Thursday to declare that he will not continue to negotiate with the Maloofs.
“We are 100% committed to moving forward under the framework laid out in the term sheet,” Johnson wrote. “And there should be no expectation in tomorrow’s conversation that this deal is subject to further negotiation. In light of these facts, the ball is in your court.”
Commissioner David Stern commented on the situation at the Board of Governors meeting and said the Kings will be in Sacramento next season, but he’s not making any predictions beyond that.
Bargnani to miss remainder of 2011-2012 season
Toronto power forward Andrea Bargnani will miss the remainder of the 2011-2012 NBA season because of the calf injury he suffered during Sunday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team stated that he is being sidelined to “eliminate any further risk.”
Bargnani led the Raptors in scoring this season at 19.5 points per game.
Board of Governors Meetings
As tweeted by TNT’s David Aldridge, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver predicts the league will lose less money this season than it did last season and he believes the league will be profitable in 2012-2013.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to inn sure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: If you are looking for the next NBA Chat, you can find them here: Upcoming NBA Chats.