Magic Among Most Reckless Franchises


The lockout seems to either be winding to a conclusion preparing to kick into the most dreaded overdrive. It all depends on who you ask and which story you believe. I generally am cautiously optimistic at this point. If the reports that the owners and players have agreed to the split of basketball-related income, then we are very close to a conclusion to the lockout. But if the hard cap/soft cap divide is as bad as Robert Sarver and Dan Gilbert would apparently have us believe, then we could be without basketball fo a while.

Thus cautious optimism.

There has been no doubt that one of the major problems in the NBA has been the problem of unfulfilled long-term contracts. Eddy Curry has been the poster child, and more recently Rashard Lewis has become a poster for the problems with NBA contracts.

The Magic will certainly be watching the progress of this aspect of the negotiation with multiple years tied into Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu — not to mention Brandon Bass and J.J. Redick. There will be changes in the new collective bargaining agreement. Orlando is hoping some will help the team clear up its larger contracts to players that are not seemingly earning them.

But being in the situation where you are relying on a new agreement to help you clear your cap space, means you did something very wrong. Especially with 2012 on the horizon. And we all know what that means.

Wages of Wins took a look at data from the last five years to determine who has been the most reckless in their spending. They measured recklessness by looking at the acquisition of multi-year contracts of three years or more for a “questionable player.” Defining what a questionable player is obviously very subjective.

But, to say the least, acquiring Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas were questionable moves. Maybe signing Marcin Gortat was too. Signing Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon definitely are. And Rashard Lewis is a maybe.

That is a lot of Magic player on this list already. So it is no surprise to discover that the Magic are fourth in the league in reckless spending with $150 million in reckless spending. With the second highest payroll in the league, it is no surprise that Orlando has spent its money a little recklessly.

“Just like the Cavs this team was graced with an all-time great at a bargain for many years,” Wages of Wins writes. “Their decision was to surround him with overpriced mediocre players. Rashard Lewis is the main culprit. Unfortunately swapping him out for Gilbert Arenas leaves them in the same spot. Despite having a chance to let Hedo Turkoglu walk they eventually traded to get him back and put themselves in the top 5 for reckless spending.”

I have to disagree with the “overpriced mediocre players” moniker. As we discovere din our cost/efficiency analysis, Jameer Nelson is properly priced. Vince Carter had an expiring contract, although he was not performing to standards. Rashard Lewis helped transform the Magic into a championship-caliber team because of the matchup problems he created. He was overpriced, but made himself worth it (at least somewhat).

Now, perhaps, the Magic are Dwight Howard surrounded by overpriced mediocre players. There is not a lot of value on the roster right now and very few players who are playing up to their contract level. Thus the problem with Orlando right now.

Letting Turkoglu walk was ultimately the right financial decision. Bringing him back certainly was not. And swapping Lewis for Arenas was not a smart financial decision either. The Magic pushed all in, as we all know, in December and have not reaped the rewards. It was extremely risky.

After the first round exit, Orlando put itself very much in the hole.

Now Otis Smith is probably hoping and praying that some fortune goes his way — like Turkoglu becoming 2009 Turkoglu or Gilbert Arenas becoming completely healthy — or the collective bargaining agreement forgives him some of his mistakes. Surely in the future, Orlando will be spending its cash a little more wisely.

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