Orlando has already done its big trade for the year. It is almost like when the Magic traded Cuttino Mobley for Doug Christie in January of 2005. The rationale then, as it was now, was to allow the team the ability to gel and germinate before the trade deadline and possibly allow Orlando to make adjustments.
Jon Weisbrod never did make that adjustment, electing instead to fire Johnny Davis and tag Chris Jent as interim coach. That team finished 18-31 and Doug Christie was in Seattle showing off a bag of bone spurs to the world. Yeah, that did not work.
Orlando has a little bit of a better team now (not to mention a better general manager) and employed the same strategy in trading for Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark on Dec. 18. The team is 20-11 since the trades and many people would consider the team incomplete, and a little disappointing.
The major focus on trades has been acquiring a backup center to replace Marcin Gortat's departure and provide Dwight Howard with someone who could step in and take 10-15 minutes per game. Malik Allen has struggled in that role and few people believe Brandon Bass can sustain playing at center with the same effectiveness that Gortat did in the postseason.
As Otis Smith said, a backup center is a luxury.
With the trade deadline coming up next Thursday, Orlando's name is going to be thrown around a lot because everyone realizes how desperate the team is to win a title and win it immediately. The All-Star Break seems like a good time to look at who might be available to the Magic.
Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post did a good job pointing out the team's assets entering the deadline. As you can see there is not much unless Orlando is willing to part with JJ Redick or Brandon Bass. That greatly limits what Orlando can do, especially considering Jason Richardson cannot be traded in combination with any other player.
Options are indeed limited. I feel it is more likely the Magic chase someone who gets bought out after the deadline. There, they have some advantages considering they did not use their bi-annual exception. Orlando has money to spend in what I like to call the "mercenary market."
Still there are potential places the Magic can go to get some fresh blood and fill some needs to get the team closer to its championship goal. Here is a list of some rumored players attached to the Magic as the trade deadline nears:
(Eds. note: all the trades I suggest are pure speculation and use the ESPN Trade Machine; I have no information to suggest any trade is imminent)
Contract: Approx. $12 million this year, 0 years remaining
Stats: 18 G, 16.0 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 38.9% TS%, 6.8 PER
My Take: New Jersey seems pretty desperate to get rid of Murphy, but I get the sinking suspicion no one is going to bite on a trade even though he would be a free agent this summer. The Nets have pretty much given up on Murphy playing for them this year and have allowed him to be away from the team. In all likelihood New Jersey will buy him out after the deadline and that is when the Magic will pounce.
From an on the court standpoint, Murphy could theoretically fit. Throughout his career he has been known as a hard-working player and one of the quietest double-double machines in the league. He has averaged a double double in points and rebounds in his five of his nine seasons in the NBA. He even has posted a 39.1 percent 3-point shooting percentage and 49.3 percent effective field goal percentage.
However, this has been by far his most disappointing season. He is averaging career lows in points and rebounds in his limited minutes. His total rebound percentage is 15.5 percent, his lowest since he was traded from Golden State to Indiana in 2007. Murphy could very well come in and be the rebounds and post presence Orlando wants off the bench and could even play some minutes alongside Howard as something of a stretch-4 with better rebounding abilities.
Potential Trade: Troy Murphy for Jason Richardson -- Surprisingly these two appear to be able to be traded straight up. They both have expiring contracts so the deal would not affect either's cap situation in the long-term future. New Jersey gets a shooting guard who can score and spread the floor and possibly send Anthony Morrow or Travis Outlaw out of a starting role, where they are probably not best suited. Orlando gets Murphy while not giving anything up. If the Nets are really desperate to get rid of Murphy, this deal works. Of course, I am sure Otis Smith would be happier to keep Richardson and get Murphy than have to give him up.
Zach Randolph, Memphis
Contract: $17.3 million this year, 0 years remaining
Stats: 52 G, 37.1 MPG, 20.1 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 53.3% TS%, 21.8 PER
My Take: This has been a pretty juicy rumor ever since Sam Smith of Bulls.com floated the idea out there. As most Magic writers have pointed out, Smith did not cite any sources for his report. Personally, I have never been a big fan of Randolph. That is probably more of a holdover from his Portland days when he was a bit of a head case and appeared to only rack up his own personal stats. However, since suffering through a season and a half in New York and then a stint with the Clippers, he has transformed himself in Memphis.
It helps he has some great players around him, but he has established himself in the post and has put up career numbers. His raw numbers do not reveal much but his 21.8 PER is the second best in his career and his 21.1 percent rebounding percentage is the best of his career. There is no doubt Randolph would help solidify Orlando in the post, be able to spell Dwight Howard and even play alongside him on lots of occasions. The only question is his post defense, but his last two years he has a career-high 2.7 defensive win shares this season. So he should be improved there.
The question is how much would it cost Orlando to get Randolph? With Rudy Gay out, Memphis will be relying on Randolph more to keep the team in the playoff race. That makes him pretty valuable. The Grizzlies are also rumored to be looking to cut some costs so they don't want to take on a ton of money. Also, I do not believe Howard has played alongside a guy that demands the ball in the post like Randolph does. It is going to be asking a lot of this team to address this concern in a relatively short time.
Potential Trade: Zach Randolph for Jason Richardson -- You can already begin to see how difficult it is to get a trade done without involving Jason Richardson or Hedo Turkoglu (but not both since neither can be traded in combination with other players). I tried a couple deals, but found none that really work on ESPN's Trade Machine. This trade works and gets Randolph in Orlando without giving up too much. JJ Redick slides into the starting lineup with Quentin Richardson and Gilbert Arenas behind him. There would be an even larger logjam at power forward though, at least for this year. I doubt Memphis does this as tey really don't get anyone back to replace Randolph unless they have a ton of confidence in Darrell Arthur.
Marcus Camby, Portland
Contract: Approx. $17.7 million, 1 year remaining
Stats: 39 G, 28.7 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 45.8% TS%, 16.2 PER
My Take: Camby has been a hot name among Magic fans. It seems everywhere I go fans suggest Camby as a trade target. Honestly, trading for Camby might be an admission that this season is over. He is out right now and I do not think Orlando is willing to take on a player that would not play immediately. However the fact he has an extra year could be a good thing, despite the amount, if Orlando can get rid of one of its larger contracts (Hedo Turkoglu or Gilbert Arenas).
There is no doubt Camby can still rebound and play defense. So he would be great as a backup center, if he is healthy. He would not have to play the same minutes he is playing in Portland in Orlando. The Magic could work around his limited offense. Because this year he is averaging a career-high 23.9 rebounding percentage. If defense and backup center is what Orlando wants, a healthy Camby is a good get.
Potential Trade: Marcus Camby for Hedo Turkoglu -- Portland sought Turkoglu last summer and nearly had him. Now might be the opportunity to actually get him back. It might be tough to get rid of Turkoglu with no legitimate small forward on the roster. It would get Gilbert Arenas to play the two more, JJ Redick in the starting lineup and Jason Richardson and Quentin Richardson at the three. All this with no guarantee Camby would play. That might be too much.
Joel Przybilla, Portland
Contract: Approx. $7.4 million, 0 years remaining
Stats: 30 G, 14.0 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 61.7% TS%, 7.3 PER
My Take: Przybilla is something of an anomaly in the league. A highly efficient backup center who is capable and hard-working, but does not produce a ton of stats and makes a ton of money. Again, like with Camby, if Orlando can get rid of long-term salary, this could be a good pickup.
He is a more than capable rebounder -- a 16.5 percent rebounding percentage -- and will clean up around the basket. He would fit solely as the backup center. But not much else. The fact his contract is expiring helps a bunch too.
Przybilla and Camby have both seen plenty of interest from other teams. It is still not clear what direction Portland will go.
Potential Trade: Joel Przybilla, Andre Miller for Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon, Malik Allen -- Portland has been desperate to get rid of Andre Miller and his $7.3 million contract (with team option for next year). His attitude has hurt the team almost as much as the injuries to all the Trail Blazers' centers. Miller has been another guy Magic fans have had an eye on as a game manager and distributor. And as much as I like Jameer Nelson, hee might be able to manage this team better than Nelson... so long as Gilbert Arenas is not pushing for starter's minutes.
Changing point guards at this stage of the season might be too much to overcome. But if Orlando picked up Miller's options and gave him next year to run with Howard, it could be a good tandem for the future. Przybilla might also be available for cheaper after the season ends to continue backing up Howard.
Contract: Approx. $23 million, Player Option for Next Year
Stats: 51 G, 30.6 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 68.5% TS%, 21.2 PER
My Take: This was a fan suggestion, but I just don't see Orlando wanting to acquire Nene. It will be difficult to find time for him behind Howard and that may not be the best place for Nene, who has started his entire career. He would bring another post presence, but that is a lot of money to commit to a backup center. Good thought though. There is no suggestion Denver is going to trade Nene, but then again, nobody knows what Denver is going to do.
Potential Trade: Nene for Hedo Turkoglu -- I would not see this trade happening. Orlando just does not have enough assets that it can combine to reach Nene's salary without absolutely gutting the roster. You can see by all these 1-for-1 trades how difficult it will be for the magic to make a move.
In the next part, I will take a look at the wings and point guards Orlando might have a shot at before the deadline.