Even after two trades shook up the roster two weeks ago, the Magic remain one of the most active teams on the trade market according to several reporters. There is no doubt Otis Smith is still working the phones as Dwight Howard has had to pretty much play every minute at center.
Orlando has continually said it is in no hurry to find a backup center for Dwight Howard, but it is becoming relatively clear that the team cannot continue with just Howard and Brandon Bass capable of playing center. Malik Allen will come back at some point, but who knows if that actually solves the problem at center.
Bass does not appear like he will need surgery for his troublesome knee, but that risk will always be there for the rest of the season. Stan Van Gundy said Bass’s injury would not quicken the pace in Orlando’s search for a backup center.
Plenty of names have been thrown out. But it has been reported multiple times that Otis Smith is not looking for whoever he can get, he wants someone who will contribute meaningful minutes.
For now, the Magic believe Dwight Howard can do everything they need. Van Gundy has had no qualms playing Dwight Howard as long as necessary. He has played the entire second half the last two games. And Van Gundy said a few weeks ago, he thinks Howard could play all 48 minutes if needed.
“I think the team counts on me every night,” Howard said. “I have to call the plays during the timeouts. I have to be the announcer for the team. I’m one of the cheerleaders. I do about everything.
“We have to play inside-out and when I get the ball in the post, I have to make the right play. If they double team me, pass it out. If they don’t, score. And just be patient and just play out of it. Every night is going to be different, and I understand that. I just try to play my game and whatever the defense gives me, I take it.”
Howard has told that joke a few times in the locker room. And it is true, he is the spoke about which this team turns around. Right now Orlando has very little insurance behind him.
Most people still believe Orlando needs a backup center to make it through the playoffs. Smith might be right on this point to be a little patient and wait to see who becomes available.
Marcus Camby has had his name thrown around a lot, but it appears Portland is asking for a lot — and asking Orlando to take on a lot — to make that deal happen. Who knows which veterans would become available around the trade deadline?
One guy whose name could surface is Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert appears as if he wants out of Sacramento with more playing time going to rookie DeMarcus Cousins. If the Magic are willing to take on another big contract, approximately $12 million expiring after this year. There is no reports that Orlando has made any contact with Sacramento concerning Dalembert.
Sacramento appears to be selling, but if you want a guy like Dalembert or Omri Casspi, teams may have to take on some unwanted salary like Francisco Garcia. And Sacramento likely would want some young players in return.
JJ Redick’s name is likely to be thrown around as much as any other player, but I think it is unlikely Orlando will trade him to fill this backup center need. Unfortunately, he may be the best trading asset the team has unless Jason Richardson is on the table (something I do not think would be so for the caliber of player that Dalembert is).
From a pure player standpoint, however, Dalembert would fit what this team wants. He is more or less a Marcin Gortat copy. He plays decent defense and is a shot blocker. For 10-15 minutes per game, he would give the Magic exactly what it wants in relief of Howard. His acquisition would even help the team clear some cap.
His name might be the biggest on the table right now as far as backup big men go. Him or Camby, at least. And it is the perfect situation perhaps to wait and see if the Kings will come down and accept Chris Duhon or someone else out of the Magic’s rotation. If Orlando could get Omri Casspi out of the deal, then maybe you are more willing to part with Redick or Richardson.
Smith is going to be patient on this. No need to pounce on this opportunity if it is not the right one, and I think you can see it may not be right now. The Magic might be in the mercenary market after the deadline and they could very well acquire Camby or Dalembert then. It is definitely wait and see time and Smith is going to weigh all his options.
Either way, Howard is confident with the team Orlando has.
“There is no doubt we have a team that can win a championship,” Howard said after Wednesday’s game. “I don’t care what anybody says about our team. I feel that we have a great team to win a championship. But it’s going to be on us. And it starts with me every night dominating. Do we have a team that can win a championship? Yes. We’ve got to have belief. Everybody in this locker room has got to believe. Everybody coming to the game and supporting the Magic have to believe. Just we got to start acting like champions.”