ORLANDO – Maybe it’s because he’s so at ease making high-degree-of-difficulty 3-point shots in traffic or just a generally happy-go-lucky sort of person, but Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross said Thursday’s NBA trade deadline will come and go without him worrying one iota.
Ross, who came to the Magic via a mid-season trade two years ago, is hopeful that he will be able to finish out this season with Orlando and help it make a push toward a playoff berth. But even if he’s about to potentially be dealt – as some published reports suggest he might be prior to the 3 p.m. deadline on Thursday – Ross refuses to stress about where his future lies.
To calm himself down, Ross – who celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday with a bottle of wine sent to him by his wife – takes almost a Zen-like approach, thinking of the potential positives rather than any negatives that might arise.
``(The threat of being traded) is kind of part of this league,’’ said Ross, who didn’t look bothered by that possibility on Tuesday when he had 26 points and five 3-point baskets. ``You can’t always look at (getting traded) as losing something; you’ve got to look at it as, `Hey, I’ve got a chance to make more relationships and enjoy some new experiences.’ It’s just as much fun as it is stressful, and you’ve got to look at it as a positive.’’
Because the Magic (22-32) play on Thursday night some four hours after close of the NBA trade deadline – they host the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-28) at the Amway Center – Ross said his mindset will be locked onto what he has to do for Orlando to be successful rather than stressing over the rampant rumors circulating the internet. One way or another, Ross said he’ll be playing basketball, heaving 3-pointers and enjoying whatever life sends his way.
``As players, you don’t have any say-so, so there’s no point in stressing about it,’’ he noted. ``You’re going to get an opportunity to play and you’re going to have to do what you do regardless what happens. Whether you get traded or not, you’re on a team to do a specific job. Regardless of whether you get traded to a team that needs what you do, or you stay with the team that needs you, you’ve got to play at the end of the day. We don’t have any say-so, so it’s just about staying focused and not worrying about none of that.’’
Ross has enjoyed a resurgent, career year with the Magic, averaging 14.4 points a game in a reserve role. Much of his damage has come from the 3-point line where he has shot 37.7 percent. He has made at least three 3-pointers in 25 games this season. Additionally, he’s been better in the Magic’s 22 wins (15 points, 47.3 percent shooting and 38.9 percent accuracy from 3-point range) than in their 32 defeats (13.9 points, 40.3 percent shooting and 36.9 percent accuracy from 3-point range).
``Thankfully, (Ross) is such a dependable player,’’ Magic head coach Steve Clifford said recently of his team’s top reserve. ``We don’t win many nights when he’s not scoring. He’s that important to our team.’’
Orlando’s front office leaders, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond, might look to deal Ross prior to the deadline out of fear of losing him this summer with no compensation in return as the guard will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1. A Magic team that is once again on the fringes of the playoff race might look to add a draft pick or address its glaring needs at point guard in exchange for Ross’ torrid shooting stroke.
Clifford has stressed to the Magic that their only focus now should be on trying to finish strong prior to the break for NBA All-Star Weekend (Feb. 15-21). After Thursday’s home game against Minnesota, Orlando will play road games in Milwaukee (Saturday), Atlanta (Sunday) and New Orleans (Tuesday) before hosting Charlotte on Valentine’s night.
``I talked to them (on Monday) about the whole grouping (of games) – (five games now) before the all-star break and let’s be in the hunt at the all-star break,’’ Clifford said. ``Four on the road, so this is not an easy stretch, and two of three against elite teams. But, again, it gets back to the same thing: You’ve got to know what’s ahead in this league. We’re good enough (to play with elite teams) and we’ve proven that.’’
Ross said if a Magic squad that owns wins over Boston (twice), Toronto, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia, Utah, Indiana and the Los Angeles Lakers (twice) fails to make the playoffs this season it will register as a major disappointment among the team.
``We don’t want to look back and say, `We blew our chance.’ So, everybody is trying to lock in and be prepared,’’ Ross said of his Magic teammates. ``We’ve just got to lock in and win the games that we’re supposed to win. Right now, is a time when every other team is thinking about vacation and all-star (break), but it’s a great time for us to sneak in and take some wins and build a winning (streak).’’
As for potentially being traded midseason, Ross has been down that road before. After spending the first 4 ½ years of his career in Toronto, he and a future first-round pick were traded by the Raptors to Orlando for forward Serge Ibaka on Feb. 14, 2017. For years, Ross had heard horror stories from teammates about the disruption of being traded in the middle of the season. For whatever reason, Ross didn’t feel anything even remotely close to those kinds of bitter feelings.
``I got traded, like, 20 seconds ago,’’ Ross said playfully of being dealt nearly two years earlier. ``It was cool, and it was an experience. It was my first time being traded and I wasn’t really (upset) by it. It was a new experience and it was about new beginnings. It’s kind of out of your hands at that point, so you’ve just got to go with the flow and roll with the punches.’’
And if he’s dealt before Thursday’s deadline? Ross said his only sadness would be missing teammates that he’s grown close to while in Orlando, but eventually he will adjust and adapt to new surroundings.
``When you stay somewhere for so long, you get attached to people and create relationships and all of that,’’ he said. ``(Getting traded at midseason) you go from memorizing all the plays in one training camp to going somewhere new and having to learn some new plays halfway through. Then again, we’re basketball players and you should catch on easily because that’s what we’re paid to do. The majority of the teams run the same plays, but with different names. I mean, I can always tell a play by the motion or how it starts, so I’ll be fine regardless of what happens.’’
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