How To Have Patience: A Guide for the Orlando Magic Fan

Pat Williams and I at the Magic Game

OMG!!!! Dwight is gone! FINALLY! THAT’S IT?! WORST.DEAL.EVAR!

If one of these is your status update today, then perhaps you should keep reading. If one of these status updates appears on your news feed today please point them here. Let me take a moment to calm your fears and stress the transcendent words of the Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, “DON’T PANIC”.  I am a huge Orlando Magic fan and I’m here to tell you that it’s not the end of the world.

Here is a break down of the deal that went down today that sent Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers. First off, here is the exact deal as reported on the Orlando Magic website:

Orlando acquired guard Aaron Afflalo (ah-FLAH-low) and forward Al Harrington from Denver, forward Maurice Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic (KNEE-coal-uh VOOCH-uh-vitch) from Philadelphia, as well as forward Josh McRoberts and guard/forward Christian Eyenga (eye-EN-gah) from the Los Angeles Lakers.

In addition, the Magic have also acquired five additional draft picks over the next five years. Orlando receives: a second round pick from Denver in 2013, a first round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second round pick from the L.A. Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first round pick from the L.A. Lakers in 2017.

The Magic have traded center Dwight Howard, guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark to the L.A. Lakers, while sending guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia. As part of the deal, Philadelphia has acquired center Andrew Bynum, while Denver has acquired guard/forward Andre Iguodala.

Now, before you immediately think back to Shaq let me introduce you to our first step.

STEP 1: The Dwight Trade Is Not Comparable To Shaq’s Situation – Back in 1996, we got a grand total of nothing for Shaq, he left as a free agent. This left the Magic franchise a total wreck for many years since we got nadda, zip, zilch and had a bunch of other crappy contracts. So please before you start hyperventilating and having flashbacks to 1996, remember we got plenty this time around in comparison. So just breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t get royally screwed like we did with Shaq.

Now you are going, OMG, we didn’t get a star in return though! Well that brings us to step two.

STEP 2: Our Star Is Going To Come Later, Hopefully – Again you probably flew off the rails at the word hopefully. But for us Magic fans, now is the time for patience and here is where we begin to practice it. We are going to get 5 draft picks over the next five years. Now that doesn’t sound like anything special to you, but depending on what kind of deals GM Rob Hennigan does next year and the following years, those draft picks could be enormous. Also, you have to consider that this upcoming season may be a wash and so we might end up getting a good draft position next year as well. So 2014-2015 will be big years for us.

So you have stopped freaking out right? But now you are mad because you don’t want to see losing seasons for years. Here let me introduce you to what we call potential and step three.

STEP 3: Our Current Roster Is Young Now – Here is the full roster, obviously it will change though.

gustavo ayon
glen davis
justin harper
jameer nelson
andrew nicholson
kyle o’quinn
jj redick
quentin richardson
hedo turkoglu
deandre liggins
ish smith
von wafer
nikola vucevic
moe harkless
arron afflalo
al harrington
josh mcroberts
christian eyenga

I have highlighted the rookies and the guys with one or two years experience. Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson were both taken in the 1st round of the draft this year. They have a ton of upside and that should give you hope that they will become solid players come 2014 or so. This is important when a free agent summer bonanza comes around in 2014/2015. We want the depth to compliment the all-stars we try to lure to the Magic. Basically, we have 9 untested players that are growing and could have lots of potential. Turkoglu is not going to be playing much longer, maybe two more years, and Quentin probably will be moving on as well. After the 2014 season we should have lots of young team oriented talent coming our way.

Now were the Nets or Rockets deals better? It’s hard to say without seeing the full deal exactly, but Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries along with 4 picks wouldn’t have been worth it IMO if rumors were true. The Rocket deal was probably further away than we realize as well considering the Lin and Asik offers that they had to honor. Anyway, the point is that the Magic got lots of young hard workers and more flexibility with this deal, which is much more important for long term success. That is obviously in contrast to being a mediocre, possible fringe playoff team now, with liabilities like Lopez and Humphries. Being strapped to another 13.6 and 12 million a year, respectively, for a middle of the road center and power forward was not going to help the Magic.

So, now you aren’t as mad, just a little annoyed, right? Ok, maybe not. Well let us move on to the next step to help make you feel a bit better.

STEP 4: Basketball Is A Business – On the business side of this deal, we have now freed up roughly 8 million in salary cap space for this year alone, just from this deal. We got a nice 7.8 million dollar trade exception as well. We have taken on a couple of expiring contracts too. This means that our flexibility will improve in the coming years when the next big star(s) hit the market. We are really left with only a couple big contracts in Jameer and Turkoglu. As I said earlier Turk is probably only going to play two more years as he mentioned recently. He also wants to finish his career in Turkey, so maybe one more year in the NBA. Glen Davis and JJ Redick’s contracts aren’t bad, but they aren’t great either. They don’t present as much of a problem as Jameer and Turkoglu since they have more upside with their development as players.

In 2014 the Orlando Magic will probably have around 20 million in cap space to work with, but this of course will be dependent on future moves to either improve or worsen that number.

So now that your annoyance level has dropped down to bearable, take a look at step five.

STEP 5: Dwight Howard No Longer Wanted To Be With The Orlando Magic – Take comfort in the fact that we no longer have a player who did not want to be on the team. Take comfort in the fact that we no longer have a player who was flip-flopping on every decision he made. Instead we now have a more youthful team oriented system. Dwight was leaving anyway. He wasn’t staying and the relationship was beyond repair. What good would it have done to start the season with a brand new head coach having to deal with a player who he knew didn’t want to play for him? None.

Rob Hennigan wants to make the Magic like the Thunder or Spurs of the Eastern Conference. I’m fine with that as I believe that will bring us championships. Now it’s up to us fans to have patience and believe in that vision. Losing Dwight sucks, but it’s time for the Magic to change their basketball culture and that starts with a little patience. That brings me to my final step.

STEP 6: The Orlando Magic Will Recover, So Will You – The Magic have the tools and if they do it properly, from the ground up, then they will be a great team. If they can move on from Dwight, so to can you.

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