Great Quotes: Stan Van Gundy

Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy had a few thoughts to share about the Miami Heat and how they are reacting to the scrutiny they’re under.

“I do chuckle a little bit when they sort of complain about the scrutiny when they get. My suggestion would be if you don’t want the scrutiny, you don’t hold a championship celebration before you’ve even practiced together. It’s hard to go out yourself and invite that kind of crowd and celebration and attention, and then when things aren’t going well, sort of bemoan the fact that you’re getting that attention. To me, that doesn’t follow.”

Stan Van Gundy

The Heat’s summer celebration (after signing LeBron, Wade and Bosh) raised more than a few eyebrows around the league. I’m sure the players and franchise just wanted to celebrate the fact that they signed all three players, but it clearly didn’t go over very well outside of South Florida.

It is funny that anyone in their position would be surprised at the attention the team is getting. Of course the team is going to be under heavy scrutiny after the summer it had. And when you lose four games in a row, that attention isn’t going to be positive. Man up.

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Heat blow 24-point lead in loss to the Magic

Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (R) drives past Orlando Magic shooting guard Jason Richardson in the first quarter during their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The woes continue for the Miami Heat, who are having a tough time putting good teams away. The Magic came back from a 24-point deficit in the third quarter to upend the Heat in Miami, 99-96.

Down by 24 points in the third quarter, the Magic went on an unbelievable 40-9 run over the next 15 minutes and stunned the Heat 99-96, the second-largest comeback in Orlando franchise history and matching the second-biggest in the NBA this season.

Jason Richardson scored 24 points for Orlando, 11 of them to kick start the epic burst that turned a 73-49 deficit into an 89-82 lead.

It’s unbelievable that a team with three players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would allow a run like that to occur. Not only are they three of the best offensive players in the league, the Heat are pretty damn good defensively as well.

Forget about the 22-7 run to close the third quarter. The Heat had time to digest that during the break between quarters and went into the fourth quarter with an 80-71 lead. A Chris Bosh jumper pushed the lead to 11.

Then the Magic went on an 18-0 run to take an 89-82 lead with 5:16 to play. Erik Spoelstra did his part, taking two timeouts (after Orlando’s 8-0 run and then again after the Magic rattled off another eight points), but it did no good. Miami’s three stars went 0-for-5 from the field during that run, and Wade even missed two free throws and turned the ball over once.

Miami is susceptible to runs like this because they lack an inside scorer. Bosh is more of a face up power forward and is far more comfortable shooting 18-footers than he is trying to score on the post, and we all know that LeBron rarely (if ever) ventures down to to the block. When those jumpers aren’t falling, it’s so valuable to have a player or two who can get you a bucket or a pair of free throws with his post up game. That player should be LeBron, but he has never developed a post game, and at this rate — I doubt he ever will.

It’s mind-boggling that LeBron and Wade combined to go 21-for-34 from the field for 57 points. That means the supporting cast shot just 14-of-41 (34%) for 39 points.

Magic add Arenas, Turkoglu and J-Rich

Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas warms up prior to playing the Los Angeles Lakers at the Verizon Center in Washington on December 14, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

The Magic were busy on Saturday. Very busy.

The Orlando Magic capped a blockbuster day of wheeling and dealing by trading one franchise cornerstone for another, sending Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas on Saturday.

That trade followed news of a deal that sent Vince Carter to the Phoenix Suns in a six-player swap that returns Hedo Turkoglu to the Magic.

The Magic also get Jason Richardson and Earl Clark from the Suns in exchange for Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick and cash considerations.

The Magic added Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark and lost Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and a 2011 first round pick.

Let’s take these deals one-by-one. First, Lewis for Arenas. The Magic had to be disappointed with the production they were getting from Lewis, who is averaging just 12.2 points per game this season, his lowest since his sophomore season. The truth is, Lewis’s production took a nosedive when Carter came to town. Now the Magic have Arenas instead, and Gilbert will have to embrace playing off-guard because Jameer Nelson is still slated to start at the point.

Not a bad deal for the Wizards who get a starter-quality ‘stretch four’ in Lewis, who should thrive spacing the floor for John Wall. Lewis’s contract is ridiculous, but it’s one year shorter than Arenas’s deal, which is just as ridiculous. The real upside is that it’s Wall’s team now and he doesn’t have to deal with Agent Zero stepping on his toes.

Now to the Suns’ deal. The Magic sent a starter-quality center (Gortat), Vince Carter’s expiring contract, Mickael Pietrus and a first round pick to Phoenix for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark. J-Rich is the best player of this bunch, but his deal is expiring as well, so there’s little salary relief for either franchise.

The bottom line is that the Magic just traded away four of its rotation players, so it’s going to take some time to work Turkoglu, Richardson and Arenas into the fold. Unless they expect Richardson to play some small forward, one of the three guards (Richardson, Arenas or Nelson) is going to be short on minutes. And let’s not forget that the Magic want to work J.J. Redick in as well.

Arenas to the Magic?

Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas is seen as the Wizards play the Los Angeles Lakers at the Verizon Center in Washington on December 14, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

Per Adrian Wojnarowski:

Orlando and Washington are engaged in serious discussions for a trade that would send Gilbert Arenas to the Magic, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Still unclear was whether Orlando would send the expiring contract of Vince Carter as part of the package or build a trade around longer-term contracts, including that of backup center Marcin Gortat, sources said. The Wizards also have been angling to get a first-round pick in return, sources said.

The Magic are currently sitting at 16-9 and in fourth place in the much improved Eastern Conference. They see the writing on the wall, which is why they are willing to roll the dice on Gilbert Arenas in order to improve their talent base and give the team a better shot in the playoffs.

Still, it’s funny how quickly things can change. Just a few short months ago, after Arenas was suspended for bringing a loaded gun to the Wizards’ locker room, the team couldn’t give him away. Now there trying to wrest a first round pick out of the Magic in return. Amazing.

For his part, Arenas is posting decent numbers (17-3-6) this season, but isn’t shooting the ball particularly well (39% from the field, 32% from 3PT). I don’t see how he’d work with Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter in the backcourt, so I suspect that Carter would be the one to go. That means that Arenas would have to play a lot of off guard because Nelson is a better point guard right now, in my opinion.

If the Wizards can get out from under Arenas’s contract and get a first round pick and/or a starter-quality center like Marcin Gortat, it will be a coup. John Wall is the future in Washington and Arenas is superfluous. I don’t think Arenas is a good move for the Magic, but they need to do something, and there’s no doubt now that Vince Carter experiment was a failure.

2010 NBA Preview: #1 to #5

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, (R) hugs teammate Russell Westbrook (0) in celebration late in the fourth quarter against the Lost Angeles Lakers during Game 3 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Oklahoma City, April 22, 2010. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

This year, I’m going to preview the NBA season by starting with the lowest of the low and working my way up to my Finals picks. If a franchise is a legitimate championship contender, I’ll focus on what stars have to line up for a title run. If a team is a playoff also-ran, I’ll identify the weaknesses that have to be shored up via trade, free agency or draft over the next couple of seasons to make it a contender. If a team is likely to miss the playoffs, I’ll take a look at the salary cap, and provide a blueprint for how the team should proceed in the near future to get back in the postseason.

#5: Orlando Magic
Doesn’t it seem like the mojo that the Magic had a couple of seasons ago is long gone? The Vince Carter trade backfired and the supporting pieces don’t seem to fit as well as they used to. Rashard Lewis is coming off his worst season in a decade, and the team didn’t do much of anything to improve in an offseason where the rest of the East got a lot better. That said, there’s still a lot of talent in Orlando and they’ll compete each and every night, assuming the players don’t start to tune Stan Van Gundy out. But unless Dwight Howard suddenly finds a go-to post move, I don’t see the Magic getting out of the East when they have to get by the Heat, Celtics and Bulls. Cap-wise, Orlando’s payroll is bloated ($94 million) and there’s no relief in sight until the Summer of 2013, when Lewis finally comes off the books. More and more, the Magic are starting to resemble the Dallas Mavericks. A huge payroll can buy lots of talent, but it can’t buy a championship.

#4: Oklahoma City Thunder
I hesitate putting the young Thunder this high, but OKC took the Lakers to seven games last spring and Kevin Durant’s performance at this summer’s FIBA World Championships indicates that he’s hasn’t yet reached his ceiling. Throw in and improving Russell Westbrook and the fact that the West is going to be a bit down with the loss of Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer (and potentially Carmelo Anthony), and the Thunder could very well finish the season with the second-best record in the conference. They could just as easily finish #7 or #8, which goes to show how much parity there is in the conference. Barring a banged up Kobe or Pau Gasol, I don’t see the Thunder getting past the Lakers (or the Heat or Celtics, for that matter), but they are more than capable of making a deep run if all goes well. OKC also has one of the best payroll situations in the league, and are projected to have about $24 million in cap space next summer. On the whole, the future looks very bright for Durant and Co.

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