Denton's Notebook: April 25, 2012

By John Denton
April 25, 2012

ORLANDO – In the coming weeks, Ryan Anderson could very well be selected as the NBA’s Most Improved Player following what has been a breakout season with the Orlando Magic.

Posting career highs in scoring (15.9 ppg.) and rebounding (7.6 rpg.), while also leading the NBA in 3-pointers (164) and becoming the only player in the league’s top 10 in offensive rebounding and 3-point shooting, Anderson is in line for a big raise over the summer when he becomes a free agent for the first time in his career.

Anderson, a fourth-year pro, will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Magic have the right to match any contract offer that the sweet-shooting power forward receives from another team. Anderson said that his first option is to return to the Magic – the team he’s played for the last three seasons – but he’s also looking forward to exploring free agency for the first time in his NBA career.

``I love it here, but it’s a free-agency period and this is my first one,’’ Anderson said. ``I’m not going to just set myself in one place. I do love it here in Orlando and I’d be happy to be here. But I still want to experience my career, see where it takes me and see where God wants me to be.’’

LOCKOUT EFFECT: Maybe no team knows more about the effects of injuries more than the Magic, who have had to play most of the last month without Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. Howard had season-ending surgery last week to repair a herniated disc in his back, while Turkoglu is trying to get back after suffering three fractures in his face.

It’s debatable what role the lockout played in those injuries. Because the NBA was forced to start the season on Dec. 25, they had to trim the schedule to 66 games and they have to jam them into a smaller window. That meant more back-to-back sets of games and stretches of four games in five nights.

Howard entered this season having missed just two games because of injury in his first seven years in the NBA, but he broke down this season after receiving repeated blows to the back.

``I think there has been more injuries and wear and tear on guys bodies,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``But the bottom line is that everybody approved this schedule because they wanted to play as many games as possible. It was a business decision and now they have to deal with the repercussions, which are more injuries to the players. With the coaches, I think there’s been a drop off in the play. Things you thought you always did well you don’t necessarily do well anymore. But it’s all relative because we’re all in the same situation.’’

ETC: Howard will remain in California for the next three weeks to complete the rehabilitation on his surgically repaired back. That was the recommendation of Dr. Robert Watkins, the California-based spine specialist who performed Howard’s back procedure. ``I examined Dwight Howard on Saturday, April 21, 2012 and he showed significant improvement from his preoperative condition that necessitated mandatory spine surgery,’’ Dr. Watkins said in a statement. ``He was discharged from Marina Del Rey Hospital on Saturday afternoon and will be reexamined this week. I have advised Dwight not to travel and to undergo rehabilitation treatment for the next three weeks in Los Angeles. He has agreed with my recommendation. While it is anticipated that Dwight will not be able to participate in the Olympics, I am very optimistic that he will be able to play next season.’’ … Magic rookies Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins have been informed that they will playing for Orlando’s Summer League squad. Orlando will once again host the league, which helps give visibility to young players and unsigned veterans. … Charlotte rookie guard Kemba Walker has gone from winning a national championship last season at the University of Connecticut to playing for the Bobcats, owners of a 21-game losing streak before Wednesday’s game. He said playing for a team that is historically one of the worst in league history is a low point in his basketball career. ``I don’t ever want to go through something like this again.’’ … The Magic close the regular season Friday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The playoffs will then begin for the Magic either on Saturday or Sunday.

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

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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