For a long time, Orlando Pinstriped Post (nee Third Quarter Collapse) was one of the best-kept secrets in the NBA blogosphere. The secret got out for good once the Magic made their finals run last year. Since then, OPP has been all over the Magic beat, attending games and practices on credential, conducting exclusive player interviews, and doing literally whatever a Magic fan could want from a blog.
Recently they were voted Best Sports Blog in Orlando and deserverdly so. OPP stands next to SacTown Royalty and Bright Side of the Sun as my top 3 favorite team blogs on SBN. They're good. Really freaking good.
Last year, Eddy Rivera joined OPP's long-time writer Ben Q. Rock, taking up the beat side of things. Eddy wanted to talk some shop in advance of tonight's game so I answered some Blazers questions for him this morning.
Click through to read his comprehensive and smart answers to some questions I asked him: trade talk, Hedo, Jameer Nelson and more.
1. Why does everyone seem to insist that Bass or Gortat will be traded? Isn't keeping both a no-brainer?
It hasn't helped that Bass and Gortat haven't been pleased with their playing time, with both of them feeling like they can bring something to the table for the Orlando Magic. That's part of the reason why there's trade rumors involving both players. Plus, when you consider the fact that Bass is playing behind Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson, and Gortat is playing behind Dwight Howard, people wonder if they're better off playing with different teams given the lack of minutes that they're getting.
For Gortat especially, people are cognizant of the fact he was dead-set on joining the Dallas Mavericks during the off-season, knowing he had a great chance to start before general manager Otis Smith decided to match the Mavs' offer and bring him back to back-up Howard for another year.
That's why, to answer the first part of your question.
Isn't keeping both a no-brainer? Yes, it Is.
As Smith told me once the news broke about Gortat, there's "not a lot of bigs available. We already have one in Marcin so you still have to protect the asset, [the] 25 year old center in the league."
Smith is right.
Now granted, Gortat's numbers are down this year but when he's playing up to his potential, he's a starting-caliber center in the NBA without a doubt. That's why Smith chose to re-sign him, because you don't let an individual like Gortat (a valuable commodity in the league vis-à-vis the position he plays) walk away for nothing.
As for Bass, I'm more than convinced he'll have his uses in the playoffs. I could be wrong, given that Lewis and Anderson are stretch-fours that cause problems for a lot of teams in the league, but that's my belief. The same goes for Gortat.
In my opinion, a team can never have too much depth. I'm sure Smith feels the same way (he may not), which is why he isn't in a rush to move Bass or Gortat. Not right now, at least.
2. Is Jameer Nelson looking like a championship point guard?
Right now? No. Will he? I'm not sure.
Bear with me but I'm going to show Nelson's numbers to prove my point:
- 1 year adj. plus/minus (+6.66)
- net plus/minus (+9.7)
- statistical plus/minus (+4.81)
- PER (20.6)
- 1 year adj. plus/minus (-10.23)
- net plus/minus (-5.4)
- statistical plus/minus (-0.24)
- PER (13.6)
Nelson isn't playing well and it's partly because he's still trying to recover from a knee injury he suffered in mid-November. In other words, Nelson isn't fully healthy right now.
Looking at the numbers, Nelson has suffered a steep decline in his efficiency and shooting, which is a surprise (he'sregressed on defense, too). Everyone expected, including myself, that Nelson would regress to the mean this year after his torrid shooting pace last year but his dip in production has been a bit too extreme. The question now is, will Nelson regress back to the other mean (his career numbers, to be specific)? I don't know the answer to that question.
All of this has been an issue here and there but not as much as it could be, mostly because Jason Williams has been magnificent in his back-up role. Statistically, Williams has been outplaying Nelson but the reason why he isn't starting is because he's 34 and can't handle the increased workload over a lengthy period of time.
Rest assured, though, if the Magic want to win a championship, Nelson needs to play somewhere near the level he played at this past season.
That and other things, which I'll save for another time and another place.
3. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being angry, 10 being ecstatic) how glad are Magic Fans that Otis Smith opted not to keep Hedo?
The number depends on the day.
I think most fans are satisfied with the moves Smith made during the off-season, though - to be specific - it seems like there will always be a debate about Vince Carter and Hedo Turkoglu unless Orlando wins a title this year. Then it's a moot point (at least, it should be).
There's no denying Smith made the right move, though, from a financial sense. The Magic would have been, to be frank, screwed financially in the future had Smith decided to re-sign Turkoglu to the contract he received from the Toronto Raptors (five years, $53 million). As unique of a player he is, Turkoglu isn't worth that type of money. Instead, Smith acquired Carter, who's contract runs shorter (two years, $34 million/third year is unguaranteed) and allows Orlando to re-tool on the fly right at the point when Howard, Lewis, and Nelson are in the final years of their respective deals. And the Magic got Anderson, too, which may turn out to be one of the biggest coups in franchise history.
Can't forget about the trade exception acquired, either, that may or may not be used by Smith this season.
All in all, I think fans generally understand the short-term and long-term ramifications of not keeping Turkoglu around, though I'm sure there will be second-guessing if Orlando doesn't win a title in the next few years.
4. Hollinger recently presented some potential trade scenarios that involved the Magic. Did you have a favorite one?
The Jamison scenario, no question.
Netting Jamison would be a good move - he doesn't go to the Cleveland Cavaliers; the Magic get another stretch-four - but would he be content with coming off the bench for Orlando? Jamison in particular, as good as he is, isn't usurping Rashard Lewis at power forward. It's highly unlikely that Stan Van Gundy would move Lewis (or Jamison, for that matter) to small forward to accommodate such a move.
The only possibility would be for Jamison to be the sixth-man, a role he's filled before with the Dallas Mavericks in 2004 when he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. If Jamison is willing to come off the bench, then perhaps something could work out with all parties involved. However, Ryan Anderson would be pushed down on the depth chart, which wouldn't be good given that he is producing at a similar rate to Jamison (albeit in less minutes) at a much cheaper price. I haven't even mentioned the issue of finances, which would be a roadblock in nearly any trade scenario for the Magic.
Many thanks to Eddy for his answers.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter