Denton's Notebook: Sunday, Oct. 11

By John Denton
October 7, 2012

New Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn promised throughout training camp that he would be a coach who would allow his players almost unlimited freedom on the court, expecting them to play without the restriction of too many play calls from him.

A man of his word, Vaughn went almost an entire half in last week’s exhibition opener without calling a single play during game action. Instead, he allowed point guard Jameer Nelson to use his judgement to get the Magic in the right alignments on the floor.

``Arron Afflalo was on the bench and he said it was the 6-minute mark of the first half before I made my first play call and I told him I was upset that I didn’t make it to halftime,’’ Vaughn joked.

A point guard throughout his 12 seasons in the NBA as a player, Vaughn always preferred to play for coaches who gave teams freedom to be creative. So far with the Magic, Vaughn has told his teams he doesn’t know who will get shots and expects the team to react to the defense and dictate the tempo.

``I want us to dictate what’s going to happen,’’ Vaughn said. ``Jameer can see who is playing well, who needs a shot and how the defense is playing us. He can make those reads and get us into the right sets.’’

J-RICH RETURNS: Jason Richardson, who spent the past season-and-a-half in Orlando, returned to face his old Magic teammates Thursday night. Richardson was dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason as part of the four-team, 12-player deal that centered around Dwight Howard.

Richardson said he knew a trade was coming because he was represented by Dan Fegan, the same agent who demanded that Howard be dealt from Orlando to the Los Angeles Lakers.

``I knew I would be a part of that deal,’’ Richardson said. ``I felt like me or anybody who were associated with Dan Fegan were going to be traded, and that’s what happened. I kind of figured it would happen and there’s no hard feelings at all.’’

Richardson said ideally he would have remained in Orlando and he was disappointed that his play fell off somewhat last season. He said he regretted that the Magic lost two first-round series during his time in Orlando. That motivated him this offseason to try and improve this season with the Sixers.

``It’s a part of the business (getting traded). I was here short term and I wish it could have been a little longer, but the NBA is a business,’’ Richardson said. ``There are still guys here that I had a relationship with and it will be that way for life. It was good coming out here for 10 minutes and talking to those guys.

``It was definitely a pleasant experience here in Orlando, but I wish I could have done more,’’ Richardson continued. ``It gave me some inspiration this summer knowing that I need to step my game up a little more. The older you get you lose a step and some people think I lost four or five steps, but I don’t think I lost that much.’’

COLLINS ON VAUGHN: NBA coaching veteran Doug Collins, who led the Sixers to the second round of the playoffs last spring, is a firm believer that Orlando’s Vaughn will be a big success as a NBA coach. Collins said he thought for years that Vaughn would be a coach because of his mature nature and heady play as a point guard.

``Jacque is going to do great,’’ Collins said. ``He’s very smart and has been under some good coaches as a player. He’s going to do a great job.’’

Prior to becoming a head coach and a highly successful broadcaster, Collins was a former first overall pick of the NBA draft and a high-scoring shooting guard. Collins said his playing experience helps him to relate to players that he now coaches. The same could very well apply to Collins in Orlando.

``We’ve had some guys talk about having a coach who played who understands the nuances of training camp and trying to incorportate rest into training camp,’’ Collins said. ``Sometimes your best laid plans are set and you cut practice an hour short to get guys off their feet. I have conversations about guys about what they need to get accomplished without beating them down.

``And because I was a guy who went through injuries, I think I have a sensitivity about that,’’ Collins continued. ``I was told I had a low threshold to pain and I had two broken feet and I was going to show everybody how tough I was and I blew out my knee and ruined my career. If a guy says to me he’s hurt, then he’s hurt.’’

ETC: The Magic were still without expected starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo because of a strained left hamstring. Afflalo hurt the leg last month and again during camp and is being rested as a precaution. The injury has bothered him the past two years. He isn’t expected to return until next week at the earliest. … NBA officials met with the Magic players on Wednesday and with the media on Thursday to stress the league’s ``points of interest’’ this season. Among them are: illegal screens; freedom of movement for cutters and drivers; contact on jump shooters; block/charge calls; traveling; and respect for the game. The NBA has enacted a policy to try and curb ``flopping’’ and those acts will be punishable. The referees will have nothing to do with the new rules and they will instead by inforced by the league office. … The Magic will play the Cleveladn Cavaliers in Cincinnati on Monday night. They will then play the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich. On Tuesday night. The next home game is Friday, Oct. 19 against the Indiana Pacers.

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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