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What the Orlando moves mean for the Celtics 12.18.10 at 10:31 pm ET
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Could Gilbert Arenas help put the Magic back in position to contend in the East. (AP)

In two separate trades over the course of one day, the Orlando Magic turned over almost half of their rotation for an upgrade at the scoring guard position (Jason Richardson) and high-priced gambles on two of the league’s worst contracts (Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas). In doing so, they ditched the services of two former All-Star wing players whose production has plummeted (Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis) and two well-paid role players (Mikael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat).

There are a lot of moving parts for the Magic, who over the last two and half weeks have lost six of seven games and watched as the Celtics asserted themselves as the favorites in the East and the Heat established themselves as the best team in their division.

The Celtics have always considered the Magic their toughest conference challenger and many of their offseason moves have been done with the Magic in mind. Orlando general manager Otis Smith clearly felt that his team needed an overhaul to try and keep pace.

The particulars are as follows:

Orlando gets: Gilbert Arenas from Washington and Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkulgu and Earl Clark from Phoenix.

Orlando gives up: Rashard Lewis to Washington and Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mikael Pietrus, a 2011 No. 1 pick and $3 million to Phoenix.

Phoenix and Washington’s motivations are clear. The Suns, who are going nowhere fast, shed Turkoglu’s onerous contract, which still has two years remaining after this season and get an intriguing big man with potential in Gortat along with a serviceable player in Pietrus. The cash will help the inevitable $4 million buyout on the last year of Carter’s contract. The Wizards obviously get rid of Arenas, who still has three years, $60 million and just as much baggage next to his name.

But these trades are all about the Magic, or more specifically, Dwight Howard, who as Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer points out, can opt out after the 2012 season. If this team had reached its limit, then it does them no good to continue playing out the string until Howard becomes a free agent.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the personalities of the new players will mesh with coach Stan Van Gundy, which is the huge blinking neon light of an X-factor in this discussion, the Magic have gotten better offensively. They have shooters everywhere to put around Howard and in Arenas they have a scoring guard who can create his own shot.

That is particularly important against the Celtics, who are one of the few teams capable of playing Howard straight-up. Without the double-teams, the Magic had trouble getting their shooters open for shots against the Celtics in the playoffs until they switched to a constant pick-and-roll attack. Carter was supposed to be that player, but he wasn’t able to do it.

The Magic should also play faster, an obvious adjustment for a team with so many perimeter players, a dominant rebounder and a lack of size beyond Howard. All of this makes it even more important that Delonte West is able to return from his broken wrist because Van Gundy now has a number of different lineup combinations he can use and the Celtics could use West’s defensive versatility.

Here are five essential realities of the deal from Orlando’s perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cavs land Jamison 02.17.10 at 11:20 pm ET
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While the Celtics worked to acquire Nate Robinson, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off a major deal Wednesday, landing Antawn Jamison from the Wizards in a three-team trade that also involved the Clippers.

The cost for acquiring the two-time All-Star was relatively light as Cleveland surrendered just a first round pick, center Zydrunas Ilgauskus and the rights to 2009 second round pick Emir Preldzic. It is widely believed that Ilgauskus will be bought out by the Wizards and then re-sign with the Cavs after 30 days.

Cleveland also got one-time Celtic Sebastian Telfair, although his role is expected to be limited. The Wizards received Al Thornton and the Clippers took back Drew Gooden, who was just traded to the Wizards over the weekend by the Mavericks.

The upshot of all that is that the Cavs finally acquired their long-desired big man who can shoot from the outside, without having to give up young forward J.J. Hickson.

There had been rumblings over the All-Star break that the Cavs were interested in Phoenix’s Amar’e Stoudemire, but that rumor went from white hot to ice cold in the span of 72 hours. Reports late Wednesday night indicated that Phoenix would likely keep Stoudemire for the rest of the season. (He has a player option this summer).

The stage is now set for the Cavs and LeBron James. They have the best record, the best player, and the prized late-season addition to bring it all home before James hits free agency. The pressure, however, will be enormous on them in the playoffs.

The Celtics play the Cavs next Thursday in a TNT game at the Garden. The two teams haven’t met since opening day when the Celtics won 95-89 in Cleveland. The other main contenders in the East–Atlanta and Orlando–are not expected to do much with their rosters before the deadline.

Read More: Antawn Jamison, NBA, Trades, Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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