There’s no doubt that Otis Smith has his critics. The Billy Donovan saga, the $118 million dollar contract, the Jameer Nelson extension – he’s been jumped on by cynics for each of these moves. But Otis was right on all of those transactions, and he’s going to get the last laugh at the end of this season. He’s pretty much a shoe-in for the NBA’s executive of the year. In addition to putting together a team that is currently 37 games above .500, Smith manuevered the team through a devastating injury to Jameer Nelson by pulling the trigger on Rafer Alston. The addition of Alston has the Magic playing almost efficiently as they did with Jameer. Let’s take at some of Otis Smith’s key moves in the past year:
June 28, 2008 – Drafts Courtney Lee with the 22nd overall pick. Lee has developed into a starter and the team’s best defender. July 10, 2008 – Signs Mickael Pietrus to the mid-level exception. While MP has been inconsistent, he was undoubtedly a quality value for that amount of money. Oct. 7, 2008 – Extends JJ Redick’s contract for two more years. While anything but earth-shattering, Redick has proven to be a capable reserve. Feb. 5, 2009 – Trades Keith Bogans to Milwaukee for Tyronn Lue. The Magic received cash in this deal (who doesn’t need cash?), and a point guard to back up Anthony Johnson. It’s still unclear if Otis misread the situation, overvalued Lue or traded Bogans because he was unhappy. Feb. 19, 2009 – Acquires Rafer Alston in a season-saving trade. Alston is a great fit for the Magic, who are title contenders again.
And all that’s in addition to drafting Marcin Gortat, signing Rashard Lewis and inking extensions with Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson the year before. Smith’s main competition for the award is Cleveland’s Danny Ferry. Ferry deserves praise for the acquisition of Mo Williams, but come on… MVP LeBron James is the reason the Cavs are the league’s best team at this point.