Denton's Notebook: March 11, 2012

By John Denton
March 11, 2012

ORLANDO – Stan Van Gundy sounds like a coach eager for Thursday’s NBA trade deadline to come and go, but he is well aware that if the Orlando Magic decide against dealing superstar center Dwight Howard, the deadline will matter very little.

If Thursday’s deadline passes and Howard is still a member of the Magic, the likelihood is that the all-star center will opt out of his contract in late June and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. While it should bring some relief that the Magic will know the makeup of their team for the rest of the season, the daily Howard saga likely won’t end anytime soon.

``There’s closure, I guess, if he goes,’’ Van Gundy said. ``If he stays (past Thursday), it just starts all over again. You just start the clock again. Then, we’re right back to where we were when the playoffs ended last year. Everybody will be talking about, `OK, what’s going to happen in the summer? And what’s going to happen next year?’ ``But we’ll have to wait and see what happens,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``But if Dwight stays then we’ll have the same storylines.’’

Van Gundy said he talks daily with Magic President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith about potential trade scenarios. Van Gundy said if anything is going to happen with Howard – or any other Magic player for that matter – it will likely go all the way until Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

``It certainly looks like it (will go until Thursday). Maybe it will happen tomorrow, Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or maybe nothing will happen at all,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I don’t expect to have anything but the team that I have now until something happens. So my expectation is that these are the guys that we’re coaching. That’s what I expect.’’

LINEUP CHANGES: An injury and a suspension caused the Magic to juggle their rotation in Sunday’s game. With Jason Richardson out with a sprained ankle and Hedo Turkoglu suspended after making contact with an official, the Magic moved J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson into the starting lineup.

Losing Turkoglu meant the Magic were without one of their best playmakers off the pick-and-roll, but Redick picked up the slack. The shooting guard had five assists in his first 16 minutes on the floor, setting up Howard for two dunks and Ryan Anderson for a wide-open 3-pointer.

The trickle-down effect of losing Richardson and Turkoglu moved reserves such as Von Wafer and Earl Clark up in the rotation. Van Gundy decided to move the 6-foot-10 Clark at small forward instead of his usual power forward position because of the size of Indiana’s Danny Granger (6-8) and Paul George (6-8).

Richardson said that he hopes to return from the ankle injury by Tuesday’s home game against the Miami Heat. Van Gundy said was told by the training staff on Saturday that Richardson would likely need ``three to five days,’’ so a Tuesday return might not be realistic.

ETC: The Magic played some of their best basketball of late in the first half, leading the Pacers by as many as 24 points in the early going. However, the Magic struggled with turnovers late in the half and saw their lead fall to 11 by halftime. … Van Gundy said he’s confident that the Magic won’t suffer much of a letdown with Redick starting at shooting guard. Said Van Gundy: ``J.J. has played well all season. He stands out because he consistently plays with a high energy level. Bringing energy every night is something we’ve struggled with, but we can always count on J.J. to have a high energy level.’’ … The Magic host the Miami Heat on Tuesday and then play in San Antonio on Wednesday. Orlando is 1-1 this season against the Heat and dropped an overtime game against the Spurs in January. The Magic’s first game after Thursday’s trade deadline – at home against the New Jersey Nets, the team pushing the hardest for a Howard trade.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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