Orlando Magic News & Notes: Matt Barnes Talks Stephen Jackson, Contract Extension, Playoffs Begin


It’s finally here – the 2010 NBA playoffs open at 3:00 pm EST Saturday when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately Magic fans will have to wait another day to see their team take the court.

Mike Bianchi will not consider the season a disappointment if the Magic don’t win the NBA title.

"I don’t think the Magic’s season will be a failure if they don’t win the championship.Unless you are the New York Yankees or the UConn women, it is ridiculous for anybody to think winning a championship is the be-all, end-all for judging a successful season. Certainly, it’s OK to be disappointed if your team doesn’t win it all, but it’s ludicrous to base your team’s whole sense of self-worth on a championship ring."

You can find that story here.

Two good friends, Magic Forward Matt Barnes and Bobcats Guard Stephen Jackson, will be squaring off in the first round.

"But early in the week when Barnes sent his best friend a few of those messages in anticipation of a head-to-head playoff matchup, he didn’t hear back from Jackson for a while. When Jackson replied, his message wasn’t about basketball. Instead, he wanted to make plans to see Barnes and his young twin sons.It showed just how much the relationship between two of the NBA’s most volatile enforcers softens away from the basketball court. There, it’s about the rest of their lives, making fun of each other, their kids, their families and a bond formed three years ago in California by two players drawn together by their similar playing styles.“I gave him the nickname Pedro; he always talks about my teeth,” Jackson said. “We have fun, but I love that dude to death. And I’d do anything for him.”"

Tania Ganguli has that story here.

Barnes and the Magic have early discussion about a contract extension. Barnes signed a two-year deal in the summer worth about $1.8 million a year but he can opt out after this season.

"Starting Magic SF Matt Barnes and the franchise have met about his contract situation, but nothing was resolved.“Yeah, we talked to them,” Barnes said told the Sentinel. “We’re going to wait until the season’s over.”Barnes said Thursday that his agent, Aaron Goodwin, met with the team about extending his contract or awarding him with a new deal.Goodwin confirmed the talks, saying that Barnes “would like to stay there and that they would love to keep him. Nothing more until the end of the season.”"

Brian Schmitz has that story here.

Speaking of Smith, Andrew Ungvari called him the league’s third best General Manager trying to win a championship.

"3) Otis Smith, Orlando MagicSmith was criticized for trading away Hedo Turkoglu and replacing him in a separate deal with Vince Carter. While Carter has had flashes of brilliance it is another of Smith’s moves that has paid dividends. Smith signed journeyman Matt Barnes to a two-year, $3 million contract that includes a player option for next season.Barnes has given the Magic a swagger and toughness that a lot of people felt they lacked in their series against the Lakers last June.While the Magic have struggled at times this season they still finished with the league’s second-best record and you’d have to think that they have a better chance of knocking off the Cavs than the Lakers or Celtics do."

You can find his full rankings here.

Vince Carter is having a lot of pressure put on him by the media. Tim Povtak weighed in on Carter as well.

"After spending all his years with average or below average teams — carving out big numbers in losing causes — Carter is facing an opportunity to put an emphatic stamp on a career with a gaping hole on his resume.“It’s obvious. This could be a crowning moment for me,” Carter said after Friday’s practice. “I don’t worry what others think, but everyone out there wants this kind of opportunity. I’m lucky enough to get it.”"

You can read that story here.

Now, on to more previews…

You won’t find anyone in the blogosphere who analyzes game tape better than Sebastian Pruiti.

"What makes the Magic so good is they surround Dwight Howard with 4 shooters. When they are at their best, they are swinging the ball around, spreading the floor, and then they get it inside to Dwight. This forces the defense to make a decision. Are you going to cover Dwight one-on-one and let him muscle you up? Or are you going to double him and free up a shooter. Whatever the defense chooses is wrong."

Click here to read his preview.

Ken Berger takes a look at the series as well.

"As cynical as I am about Brown’s wanderlust, I have the utmost respect for him as a coach. It’s impossible not to respect the job he has done in Charlotte, with a team that defends, plays unselfishly, and has a little edge to it since the Jackson acquisition. But Michael Jordan’s first foray into the postseason as a majority owner will end badly. It has to, because the Magic are playing better than they were a year ago when they went to the Finals — and they’re more confident and dangerous than they were, too. Yes, the JordanCats can throw a lot of bodies at Howard, put him on the line, and watch him miss a lot of free throws. It won’t matter. The Magic won’t get flustered, they have too many shooters, and remember — Howard gets to play defense, too."

You can read his complete Eastern Conference playoff predictions here.

Ben Q. Rock has done an excellent job of previewing the Orlando-Charlotte series and you can find his specific preview section that has all of his stories and predictions from around the league here.

Eddy Rivera rounded up some of the best basketball minds in the business to preview Orlando’s postseason and you can find that here.

Philip Rossman-Reich discussed the series with Bobcats blogger Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops and you can find that here.

Click here to read Kevin Mchale’s Charlotte-Orlando preview.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).