Bombs away, Orlando.
The system of Dwight Howard in the paint and host of guys chucking up threes around him is not going anywhere soon — the Orlando Magic have extended the contracts of coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith through 2013, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Smith is now the president of basketball operations, which we hope for him is not one of those “we’re giving you a new title instead of a raise” moves. Those suck.
Smart move by Orlando — this was a below .500 franchise when these two came in, and now they are title contenders. They built a team that plays good defense. They built a team that matches up well with the Miami Heat (what, you think Joel Anthony is going to slow Dwight Howard?).
Orlando has won 59 games the last two seasons, been to an NBA finals and will be right in the mix in the East again. This is a case of the GM and coach being on the same page — Smith has brought in talent to match Van Gundy’s system. Sounds logical, but look at half the teams around the league and tell me if it looks like coach and GM are even speaking.
Orlando just keeps on making smart moves. Everyone notes that the Magic lost veterans in Jason Williams and Matt Barnes, but buy replacing them with Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon the Magic just got better shooters, as Orlando Pinstripe Post points out. It may not seem like great pickups in terms of names, but it’s a fit.
Orlando is not the sexy team in Florida anymore, but they may still be the best. We won’t know that until the playoffs, but this team is good and it is a contender once again.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.