Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic at a Crossroads


DWIGHT HOWARD

Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming.  Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players.  Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.

The Orlando Magic face numerous questions this off-season after being booted from the first round of the NBA Playoffs. At the forefront of those questions; Dwight Howard’s future with the organization.

By: David Kay

Orlando Magic (52-30 last season)

’10-’11 Season in Review:
The Orlando Magic are a very good NBA team and have been for the past few seasons.  But the team showed their weaknesses in the post-season by being eliminated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks, the same team they embarrassed in the second round of the playoffs a year ago.

Superstar Dwight Howard more than held up his end of the donkey in that series, averaging 27 points and 15.5 rebounds per game.  That is not surprising though as Howard continues to blossom into perhaps the best big man in the game as shown by his third straight NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.  However, after Howard the Magic failed to find consistency elsewhere on the floor.

General manager Otis Smith felt a change was needed early in the season and swung a pair of major deals.  He exchanged terrible contract for terrible contract when Rashard Lewis was dealt to Washington for Gilbert Arenas.  Smith also shipped Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, and their 2011 first round pick to Phoenix for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark.

The change did not provide the spark Smith was hoping it would.  Turkoglu failed to return to his old form from a couple of seasons ago when he played a huge role for Orlando.  Richardson was not an up-grade from what Carter brought to the team and Arenas was pretty awful shooting an attrocious 33.4% from the floor.

Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass, and Ryan Anderson all contributed to the cause, but did not help Orlando pack the punch needed to compete the top tier teams in the East.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Dwight Howard/Daniel Orton
PF: Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson
SF: Hedo Turkoglu/Quentin Richardson/#Earl Clark
SG: Gilbert Arenas/J.J. Redick
PG: Jameer Nelson/Chris Duhon

Free Agents:
#SF-Earl Clark (TO)
SG-Jason Richardson (UFA)
PF-Malik Allen (UFA)

’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $40.2 million

Off-Season Needs:
1. A Second Banana/Keep Dwight Howard Happy:
Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill, Steve Francis; since arriving in the NBA, the Magic have been unable to find a true second banana on the wing to compliment Dwight Howard’s developing dominance inside.  That is one of the contributing factors as to why Howard has never won a NBA title.

With Howard potentially becoming a free agent, the Magic need to somehow find a true second banana this off-season to A) Keep Howard happy and convince him to stay in Orlando and B) help the franchise continue to compete in the improving Eastern Conference.  However, the Magic are massively over the cap and do not have a ton of assets that will receive a lot of interest in the trade market.  They might need a minor miracle to finally fill this need.

2. Power Forward:
While Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson are nice players in their own right, I am not sure either of them should be starting for a team that calls themselves a legit NBA title contender.  The trade with the Suns left the Magic without a true back-up for Howard and unless Daniel Orton greatly improves, which I would not count on, Orlando needs to add some sort of size.

3. Shooting Guard:
Jason Richardson is a free agent and unless the Magic are comfortable with a rotation of Gilbert Arenas and J.J. Redick at the two (which they shouldn’t be), they will likely have interest in finding an up-grade.

OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
ATLANTA HAWKS
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
DENVER NUGGETS
DETROIT PISTONS
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
HOUSTON ROCKETS
INDIANA PACERS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
MILWAUKEE BUCKS
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
PHOENIX SUNS
PORTLAND BLAZERS
SACRAMENTO KINGS
TORONTO RAPTORS
UTAH JAZZ
WASHINGTON WIZARDS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS

CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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