20th December, 2010
A rough patch early this season was enough to convince the Orlando Magic that perhaps they werenâ€™t good enough to contend in the Eastern Conference after all.
They acquired troubled guard Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards and Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson from the Phoenix Suns in a major roster shake-up at the weekend. The Magic sent forward Rashard Lewis to Washington and Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat to Phoenix in a separate trade.
Orlando also gave Phoenix its 2011 first-round draft pick and cash and received Suns forward Earl Clark.Â â€œWe needed a little bit more punch,â€ Magic president Otis Smith said. â€œAll those guys coming in have an ability to move the ball. After looking at our team through 25 games, we were missing a little something. I thought change was needed.â€ The overhaul was a major move for a franchise that began the season believing it had all the pieces for its first championship.
Instead, Orlando had lost five of its last six games to drop from first to fourth in the Eastern Conference. The slide was magnified by winning streaks of 11 by Miami and 12 by Boston, a ripple effect that was enough to force Orlando to revamp the roster again with a player looking for a second chance of his own.
â€œ Iâ€™m just glad to be back in the playoff hunt,â€ Arenas said. â€œIâ€™ve been out of it for a while and just glad to be back in competitive basketball with a group of guys who now hope to win, so itâ€™s just great.â€ This is a do-over in many ways for the Magic, too. After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals in the 2008-09 season, the Magic parted ways with Turkoglu a fan favorite who went to Toronto and traded with New Jersey to get Carter. The decision turned out to be a disaster; Carter struggled mightily in Orlandoâ€™s disappointing exit in the East finals last season against Boston. An early season skid forced Smith to reverse course.
â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s admitting a mistake,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t regret breaking up the finals team. I think it was the right decision at the time.â€