Denton: Magic Dealing with Injuries

By John Denton
September 21, 2012

ORLANDO Training camp is still more than a week away, but the Orlando Magic have already been hit by injuries. However, new General Manager Rob Hennigan is confident that reserves Al Harrington, Moe Harkless and Ish Smith will make quick recoveries and he’s excited about the opportunities that will be afforded to other players over the coming weeks.

When training camp opens Oct. 2 at the Amway Center, Harrington, Harkless and Smith won’t be ready for action because of injuries that required offseason surgical procedures. The Magic are projecting Harkless and Smith ready for game action by mid-November – meaning they will only miss a handful of regular-season games – while Harrington’s return will be based more on how his knee responds to rehabilitation. The three are already on the court doing basketball-related drills and working with their Magic teammates.

Harrington, acquired from Denver in a four-team, 12-player blockbuster trade, had arthroscopic knee surgery following last season and needed subsequent procedures to clean out an infection. Harkless, the No. 15 overall pick in the June NBA Draft, needed surgery to repair a sports hernia. And Smith, who appeared in 20 games last season with the Magic, dislocated his left shoulder early in the summer and needed surgery.

The Magic analyzed the medical data following each of the surgeries and were confident that Harrington, Harkless and Smith would make full recoveries.

``We were very comfortable with the information that we had and our medical staff assured us that these injuries were short term and they would make full recoveries real soon,’’ Hennigan said. ``The season is about opportunity and training camp is about opportunity. (Head coach) Jacque (Vaughn) has made it clear that every player will have a chance to earn minutes as long as there is merit behind that. So this (injury situation) creates opportunities for guys to carve a niche for themselves.’’

The Magic should be able to easily withstand the injuries in the preseason because their roster currently stands at 17 players. They will have to trim the roster to 15 by the start of the regular season and 12 players will be active on game nights. Many of the players have been at the team headquarters the past two weeks going through voluntary workouts and conditioning drills with Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Rogowski.

``The energy and the work ethic have been consistent and really intense,’’ Hennigan noted. ``Guys are gearing up for the season and everybody is excited to get the season started.’’

The Magic will hold media day on Oct. 1 and start camp the following day. After three two-a-day practice sessions, the Magic will travel to Mexico City to open the exhibition season against the New Orleans Hornets on Oct. 7.

The Magic will play their first home preseason game on Oct. 11 against the new-look Philadelphia 76ers, and they will host the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 2 in the regular-season opener.

Smith’s injury means that the Magic will be able to get an extended look at newcomer E’Twaun Moore as the backup point guard behind Jameer Nelson. Moore had the game of his professional life last season in Orlando, making four second-half 3-pointers to key a Celtics rally against the Magic.

With Harrington out, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis figures to be the starter at power forward and first-round pick Andrew Nicholson will likely be given every chance to show off his scoring abilities in the low post. Davis, who finished last season strong and carried the Magic for stretches in the playoffs, has been a leader for the team this summer with his dedication to working diligently to improve his game.

Harrington, 32, figures to be the most experienced player on the Magic roster this season what with his 14 years of NBA service. He averaged 14.2 points and 6.2 rebounds last season in Denver, numbers that closely resemble career averages of 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds a game for five teams.

``That was a factor in making the trade, knowing that Al’s experience, mindset and professionalism will rub off on some of the younger guys,’’ Hennigan said of Harrington, who was acquired along with Arron Afflalo from Denver. ``We’re trying to create a culture of good habits, work ethic and discipline and Al certainly will help accelerate those things for us.’’

Harkless, 19, is considered an elite athlete with blossoming basketball skills. He spent one season at St. John’s before opting for the NBA. He is expected to push veterans Hedo Turkoglu and Quentin Richardson for playing time and possibly starting minutes at small forward because of his athleticism and defensive prowess.

``I liked a lot of things about Moe,’’ Hennigan said. ``His size and his length are really two attributes that bode well for his success long term. And he has great versatility and instincts and those are two things that really stood out to us. We’re excited about watching his development going forward.’’

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.

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