Jennifer Stewart/USA TODAY
December 18, 2010 is a day that should live in infamy in Magic history.
That was the Saturday the Magic traded Mickael Pietrus, Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat for Hedo Turkoglu (currently being paid $6 million not to show up at the Magic facilities), Jason Richardson (re-signed to a four-year deal and shipped off to Philadelphia as part of the Dwight Howard trade) and Earl Clark (traded to the Lakers in the Dwight Howard deal and now in Cleveland). And then there was the Rashard Lewis-Gilbert Arenas swap, which was not nearly as much of a killer despite the Magic amnestying Gilbert Arenas two years before the end of his deal.
To say the least, it was one of the worst deals in Magic history. Orlando went from championship cotnender to mediocre in one fell swoop at a time when Dwight Howard's future was very much in doubt.
Again, one of the worst trades in Magic history.
Just about everyone agrees that this was the final nail in the coffin for the Magic's championship runs. Everyone except Dwight Howard who probably still thinks the Magic did not give Gilbert Arenas the chance he "deserved."
Marcin Gortat, probably the most prized asset in that deal with the Suns, owes a lot of debt to the Magic and recognized that deal for what it was, telling Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
That was a front-office decision. I’m not going to lie: It was a great move for me personally. Was it a great personnel move for the Orlando Magic? I don’t think so. But they decided to make a move, and pretty much they got punished for it.
“For me, I wanted to go out and play as much as I love Orlando, as much as I loved the team and the franchise and Stan [Van Gundy]. After all this time, now you realize you love Stan. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve been basically spoiled. I’ve been around the league for seven years, and I’ve seen a lot of young guys coming into this league that have no idea what to do to survive in this league. They have no idea what to do to become a decent player in this league. And if you don’t have a great coach from the get-go, and a group of veterans, sooner or later, you’re going to end up out of the league. And, I’ve been basically spoiled.
It did not turn out well for the Magic. It did turn out well for Gortat. He averaged 13.3 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game in three seasons for the Suns. His already strong per 36 minute numbers continued to climb even with the expanded playing time.
Gortat struggled though with the Suns win/loss record and did not seem to keen to go through another rebuilding effort in the Valley of the Sun. He was "saved" when Phoenix traded him to Washington at the beginning of the season. That put Gortat back into the Playoff race.
The Wizards got back to .500 last night with the 18-point win over the Magic. That is good for fourth in the East, believe it or not. Gortat scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds against his former team.