If you need any other sign that the Magic have fallen from grace, look no further than the 2012-13 national television schedule. Orlando will appear on ESPN twice. No ABC games. No TNT games. Just two appearances on national television total (excluding NBATV). This Magic team was on national television 16 times during a 66-game schedule last season as a team falling from grace at the fourth seed in the East!
Certainly the NBA is pretty sure Dwight Howard has played his last game in a Magic uniform and have decided to turn the focus away from Orlando. The league probably also wants to stop the constant speculation and media coverage that came with the Dwight-mare. Like us all, they want this to end as quickly as possible.
Rob Hennigan may choose to wait. But this is not a post about that -- at least not directly.
The NBA released the 2012-13 schedule Thursday. Orlando will open its 24th season November 2 against Denver at Amway Center, an ironic opponent since Orlando is looking for a similar haul to the one Denver received for Carmelo Anthony in its Dwight Howard trade. Maybe Rob Hennigan and Masai Ujiri can compare notes.
The Magic schedule is pretty balanced. Orlando plays nine of its first 15 games at Amway Center in November. Only April is road heavy, with three of the team's eight games away from Orlando.
The Magic will have a season-long five-game homestand during a 10-day stretch in late November. Orlando will take three separate five-game road trips. The two West Coast trips occur in early December and early January as they usually do.
On to the matchups of interest.
The Magic will play the Nets three times in the first month. I guess the NBA figured it needed to get the mess out of the way. Orlando hosts Brooklyn twice in that month -- November 9 and November 21 -- so if the Magic trade Howard to the Nets in January, Orlando fans will not see him. If the Magic trade Howard to the Lakers, they will see him at Amway Center on March 12.
Those two national television appearances? They are not the best games either.
On November 16, Kyle O'Quinn faces Andre Drummond for the first time since their summer battle in the summer league at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Somehow, that may not be what the ESPN executives had in mind. Maybe they did.
The Magic will also appear on ESPN on December 14 against Golden State (a dark horse landing spot for Dwight Howard, by the way).
For those that do not let go of things easily, Orlando faces Indiana for the first time on January 16 after a four-game road swing. The Magic face the Pacers on March 8 in Orlando and March 19 in Indianapolis. For those that really cannot let things go, the Magic play the Rockets on March 1 in Orlando and April 1 in Houston.
So there is a small potential March 1 will be Dwight's first trip back to Orlando.
Yes, it is true, Orlando will be toiling in relative obscurity this year. In all likelihood, the Magic are going to be as bad as the number of national television appearances suggest.
Of course, we said that in 1999. Time to prove everyone wrong again.