Cohen 8-Ball: Magic Decisions
January 4, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: Injuries, unfortunately, derailed the Magic’s momentum in December. With Glen Davis, Orlando was a surefire playoff contender. The Magic have lost seven straight since Big Baby’s shoulder injury and to make matters more complicated, E’Twaun Moore sprained his elbow and is still recovering. Since other teams like Boston, Philadelphia and Brooklyn are struggling, should Orlando believe that once Davis, Moore and Al Harrington, who is progressing, return, it can make a serious playoff push?
Cohen’s Analysis: It’s not necessarily a decision that needs to be made today or this season for that matter, but if a superstar-caliber player in his prime becomes available via trade, should the Magic attempt to acquire that talent by surrendering any of the budding young talent/assets they are presently grooming? We saw, for instance, Houston give up young pieces/draft picks to land James Harden. Preferably, it would be most superlative if Orlando can utilize its looming salary cap space to sign star free agents without having to capitulate assets that are still developing.
Cohen’s Analysis: By all accounts, the 2014 NBA Draft class will alter the landscape of the league. There are two prospects expected to be available in next year’s draft that will immediately transform their impending teams from pretender to contender. Should the Magic, or any other rebuilding team for that matter, attempt to acquire another franchise’s unprotected 2014 draft pick in hopes of potentially striking gold in the lottery?
Cohen’s Analysis: It’s no secret that J.J Redick will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Assuming he is not traded beforehand, J.J. will be one of the more intriguing players available on the market in July. Should the Magic do whatever it takes to re-sign Redick, even if they are required to offer him a “non-salary-cap-friendly” contract? It’s not quite as dramatic as the Dwight Howard saga was, but the decision on J.J. will have a monumental impact on the direction of the Magic.
Cohen’s Analysis: It’s ambiguous who the Magic’s starting small forward should be, even when completely healthy. There is the youth movement option in which Maurice Harkless gets the opportunity. There is the experience and versatility choice in which Hedo Turkoglu is out there for tipoff. There is the athleticism preference in which DeQuan Jones starts. And then when Al Harrington is back, you can go with more length and scoring power. Tough call.
Cohen’s Analysis: With Glen Davis out, we have seen both Gustavo Ayon and Kyle O’Quinn get minutes at backup center. But when Big Baby returns, who should be granted more playing time? While Ayon is the more creative player because of his passing ability and effective rolls to the basket, O’Quinn has the potential to be more of a conventional big man because of his strength and agility.
Cohen’s Analysis: Nikola Vucevic, who could end up winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award this season, should be a lock to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge in Houston during All-Star Weekend. But what about Andrew Nicholson, who in limited minutes has been stellar? There are several other rookies, including Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Dion Waiters, Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who are guaranteed to earn a spot in the game. But Drew is right there to be considered.
Cohen’s Analysis: Maurice Harkless needs more time to develop and most of that training will happen behind the scenes. After starting the rookie in 20 games, Jacque Vaughn decided to have Harkless watch all the action from the bench these past two contests. Maurice has all the intangibles to be productive player in the NBA, but is flawed in many areas, particularly offensively. Would it be beneficial for Harkless to get sent down to the D-League to continue expanding his game?