Orlando Magic News & Notes: Getting Ready For The Stretch Run, Rumors


John Denton has an excellent article about Head Coach, Stan Van Gundy.

"At some point before Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game, Stan Van Gundy will briefly relax his must-win mentality, take in the surroundings that include roughly 90,000 fans and 24 of the best basketball players in the world, and be overcome by one overriding thought.“I’ll be wondering, `What the hell am I doing here?’ Van Gundy said in his typical self-effacing style.Van Gundy likes to call himself a “nobody” and a “grinder,” but don’t be confused why the Orlando Magic’s coach is at the NBA’s All-Star Game tonight. He might look as out of place at the glitzy, superficial all-star gala as country music in a NBA locker room, but he belongs on this stage because the guy can flat out coach."

You can read Denton’s story here.

Dwight Howard and the Magic Coaching staff have returned to reality after the All-Star break.

"“Oh, it was incredible,” Van Gundy recalled. “When you first walk in, you just go, ‘Oh, my God.’ You’re looking at the size of the screen and everything else. It was phenomenal. Then, when you walk back for the game, and there’s all those people in there? Yeah, phenomenal. It was an awesome sight.”Less than 16 hours later, Howard and the coaches stood on their practice court at RDV Sportsplex for a Magic team workout. You couldn’t find a celebrity anywhere. The group that gathered to watch the practice consisted of Orlando General Manager Otis Smith, Assistant General Manager Dave Twardzik and a few others — not the 108,713 people who attended the exhibition on Sunday.Van Gundy and assistant coaches Brendan Malone, Patrick Ewing, Steve Clifford, Bob Beyer and Ahmad Ajami didn’t look bleary-eyed late Monday afternoon even though they had arrived back in Central Florida around 5 a.m. Perhaps they still felt a bit wired from coaching in the Eastern Conference’s 141-139 victory over the West.Howard, on the other hand, looked and sounded tired after a whirlwind weekend in which he played more than 27 minutes of the game, showed his shooting touch from beyond the arc and even helped prepare some burgers, fries and a cup of hot chocolate at a Dallas-area McDonald’s."

Josh Robbins has the story here.

The Magic are looking to make a second-half push.

"“I think that now’s the time we really need to raise our focus and to expect more out of ourselves and to cut down on the number of mistakes we’re making,” Van Gundy said.On Monday, the team scrimmaged for 35 to 40 minutes to try to knock off any rust that accumulated over the weekend. Van Gundy said all the players on the roster attended the workout.“This is our chance,” SG Vince Carter said. “This is the last 27 or 28 games and [we need to] make that push for playoff positioning. We want to try to play our best basketball going right into the playoffs. This is the time.”"

You can read that and other notes here.

Basketball Prospectus takes a look at how the season will shake out.

"It’s gonna be a heck of a race. Right now, my system has it going Orlando-Boston-Atlanta, but it’s really close. That’s based on the Celtics going 28-4 to finish the season, but Boston is break-even over its last 28 games and it sounds like Danny Ainge wants to shake things up, even though nothing material has come to pass. The Hawks have the easiest set of opponents down the stretch, but also the most road games. Despite what my numbers say, I’m gong to venture it’ll be Orlando-Atlanta-Boston, which means the Celtics are doomed to a second-round matchup against Cleveland.The last two or three spots in either conference look to be up for grabs. Without knowing the outcome of the trade talks this week, who do you see getting in and who gets left out?"

Some notes on Wednesday’s opponent, the Detroit Pistons:

Jonas Jerekbo really enjoyed All-Star weekend.

The Pistons are ready to resume what has been a difficult season.

"One day after the All-Star break, coach John Kuester was excited about getting back to work with 31 games left and the Pistons mired in a down season.“Philadelphia was snowed in, and I drove all the way to Philadelphia on Thursday,” Kuester said Monday. “My wife and I spent 8 hours on the road just talking. It was good. Then I went to see my daughter play and had a chance to be at home, and then I got back late Sunday night. It was good.“I’m ready to go, got to get it going. My charge is always ready to go. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”Unless president of basketball operations Joe Dumars can bring him a threat in the low post before the trade deadline, Kuester is looking for two things the rest of the season: effort and healthy bodies, which he hasn’t had all season."

Read that story here.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the middle of several rumors. Terry Pluto wonders if the rumored trade for Amar’e Stoudemire is worth the risk.

"I can’t picture Stoudemire on defense. He has spent his entire career with the Suns, where defense is a rumor and offense means taking a shot every seven to 10 seconds. With the Cavs, the power forward is a position that requires everything most Suns’ players hate — rebounding, defending, and not having the ball very often."

You can find that story here.

Have the Cavs turned their attention to Corey Maggette?

Rip City Project says that a deal to bring Marcus Camby to Portland has been completed.

I love this for Portland. It’s a short-term solution for what they hope is a short-term problem.

Nugg Love breaks down the rumors here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)