Denton: NBA Draft Preview

By John Denton
June 22, 2011

ORLANDO – It figures to be a quiet night at the Orlando Magic’s headquarters at the Amway Center Thursday for the NBA Draft, but President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith left the door open for a surprise.

The Magic do not have a first-round pick as virtue of the December trade with the Phoenix Suns and go into Thursday night’s draft with only the 53rd overall selection. But Smith said the Magic will be monitoring a couple of players and if they fall, the Magic could make a move to get into the first round of the draft.

``If there’s a guy that we like and he’s still there, we’ll explore the possibilities and see what it would take (to make a trade),’’ Smith said. ``But right now I’m liking the way the second round looks because I don’t have a first round pick. It’s a unique draft with two or three at the top that can be really good and two or three more who have a chance. We’ll be monitoring what happens.’’

The Magic traded Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and their first-round pick to Phoenix for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark on Dec. 18. The Suns then dealt Orlando’s selection (No. 23 overall) to the Houston Rockets in another trade.

The Magic potentially have a need at shooting guard with Jason Richardson becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Also, reserve shooting guard J.J. Redick recently underwent surgery to repair a torn muscle in his lower abdomen.

Ohio State’s David Lighty, Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore and Marquette’s Jimmy Butler are possibilities for the Magic with the No. 53 pick. But the odds are stacked against second-round picks, who have non-guaranteed contracts and won’t have the luxury to audition in summer league because of the likely lockout ahead.

``With second round guys it’s always difficult for those guys to make our roster,’’ Smith said. ``But we like a few guys there in the second round. We might just hold there or possibly look to move up.’’

Smith said that the NBA’s labor situation has had an impact on the negotiations with Fran Vazquez, the No. 11 first-round pick of the 2005 NBA Draft. Vazquez has played in his native Spain the past six years, but he has hinted that he’s considering playing in the NBA. Smith said that Vazquez might sign a one-year deal in Spain, so that he can revisit the idea of playing for the Magic following the labor troubles.

Smith is hoping that last year’s first-round selection, 6-foot-11 center Daniel Orton, can contribute next season. He didn’t appear in a NBA game after spending the first part of the season rehabilitating an injured knee and then he suffered another injury in a NBA Development game that required corrective surgery.

``He’s getting to the point now where he’s working out hard and getting back into basketball shape,’’ Smith said. ``Hopefully we can see him play some in the summer and get him ready for next season.’’

John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at