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Join Date: Aug 2009
Magic need thrid point guard
RealGM Orlando Magic Front Office
With less than two months until training camps open, teams are looking for last minute additions and trying to fill out their rosters. For the Orlando Magic, this means signing a third point guard.
While the pool of free agents hasn't been entirely sucked dry, Orlando's options are dwindling.
Raymond Felton, Nate Robinson, and Ramon Sessions are still available but let's be realistic. The Magic only have minimum contracts to hand out and aren't looking for a starter who demands money and minutes that they cannot offer. So despite false insider reports, Raymond Felton isn't Orlando bound. Tragic, we know.
When we discussed this topic, we both agreed on one thing: the reserve must be able to step up and start if needed. With Jameer Nelson returning from a serious injury and extensive rehabilitation, Orlando needs someone who can join the starters on the court and flourish. While Anthony Johnson is effective off the bench, his play last season proved that he cannot start on a consistent basis and led to the acquisition of Rafer Alston.
The Magic do have the $8-9 million trade exception in case of a dire emergency but it would be nice to have that money for other purposes. With teams looking to dump salary before the 2010 free agency bonanza, Orlando can add a significant piece to their team rather than searching for the Plan B point guard they could have added during the off season. Why do tomorrow what you can do today?
Below, we have put together a breakdown of the remaining free agent point guards. We've assigned each individual into a category and our explanations and reasoning will follow.
Best Overall: C.J. Watson, Anthony Carter, Ronald Murray, Bobby Jackson
Kennedy: Watson has been my first option all off season. He can score, provide a spark off of the bench, and is the kind of player who leaves everything on the court. When given big minutes in Golden State, he was extremely production and his best years are still ahead of him. While it's going to be hard to acquire him through a sign-and-trade, I'm hoping Otis Smith can get something done because all alternatives pale in comparison.
Bobby Jackson and Ronald Murray are my top choices if Watson falls through. Jackson is a proven veteran and showed that he could still start last season in Sacramento. He averaged over twenty minutes per game and when given the minutes, played extremely well. Murray is another proven player who can step into the starting lineup and produce. He's an excellent scorer and plays the passing lanes well. Last season, he averaged 12.2 points in 24.7 minutes each night. I would feel comfortable with either of these players running our offense.
Anthony Carter is a great passer, defender, and capable of starting. He is consistent and a solid option for Orlando. The only negative? He can't shoot. Last season, this may have killed Orlando but with so many scoring threats on our team, a distributor who knows his role may not be such a bad thing. He is on my second tier of options but I wouldn't complain if we inked him.
Mass: The favorite amongst Magic fans for the backup point guard slot is C.J. Watson. It will be hard to obtain him though due to his status as a restricted free agent and Orlando only being able to offer him the league minimum.
A sign and trade is possible but could be difficult with Watson likely becoming a Base-Year Compensation player which will make it more difficult to trade him. Anthony Johnson and J.J. Redick could be possibilities in any potential deal.
There are other solid options here in Anthony Carter, Bobby Jackson and Ronald Murray.
Carter is a bit older but did a solid job as a backup for Denver last season. I would guess that he will land a deal for more than the minimum.
When Magic fans go back and look at past drafts, they shake their head at the 1997 selection of Johnny Taylor with the 17th overall pick and when the review the players who GM John Gabriel passed over, Bobby Jackson is one of the first names mentioned.
Twelve years later Jackson is a free agent and could still make a nice backup at this stage of his career
Murray is more of a scoring point guard that could give a team a spark off the bench. With Mike Bibby re-signing in Atlanta and the team drafting point guard Jeff Teague in the first round of this year's draft, Murray might feel the squeeze and sign somewhere for the minimum next season.
Solid to Decent Pickups: Jason Hart, Tyronn Lue, Carlos Arroyo, Jacque Vaughn, Damon Jones
Kennedy: The only reason I knew Tyronn Lue was still playing was because the Magic acquired him for Keith Bogans last season. But with how little he played, Lue was more cheerleader than team leader. The eleven-year veteran was acquired as a potential answer at point guard last season but instead his poor play motivated Smith to trade for Rafer Alston. Been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt.
Vaughn will turn thirty-six during the season and is entering his thirteenth season. Three years ago, I wanted Orlando to bring him back but was concerned about his age. Three mediocre seasons later, Vaughn is older and his production has plummeted.
Damon Jones is an incredible shooter who would be a threat from behind the arc. If Orlando is looking for a quick guard who can knock down open threes then this is their guy. If they're looking for a point guard who can do anything else, maybe Jones isn't the answer. He's an average passer, defender, and well, point guard but he is such a good shooter he may be worth it.
Mass: Jason Hart is a solid backup to third-string point guard. Hart is solid depending on where he goes and was the third point guard in Denver at the end of the season showing there is a possibility he would accept that role here.
Tyronn Lue had some positive spurts here during his second go-around in Orlando. Unfortunately, if the Johnson-Lue platoon did not work after Nelson's injury, why would you want it again if Nelson had to miss a stretch of games or went down again?
While Lue would be better than nothing, there needs to be another option and after falling behind rookie Courtney Lee on the point guard depth chart, it is likely going to be a mutual decision for the two sides to part ways.
An outside possibility is perhaps finding a team interested in signing Lue and then working out a sign and trade deal involving two or three teams where the teams would swap some low salary players and one of which could be another point guard or someone they can swap for a backup. It is a long shot though.
There is also the possibility of bringing Carlos Arroyo back after a tough season overseas. The Magic still hold his Bird rights so they could give him more than the minimum. Despite the Arroyo bashing that seems to go on, the guy is a quality backup and could even be in the first category. His tenure here ended in Stan Van Gundy's doghouse and an Arroyo probably does not. Like with Lue though, that long shot sign and trade option could be a possibility.
Vaughn actually was the starter here in Orlando during the 2002-2003 season. Unfortunately, he has never matched the glory of his college days at Kansas in the NBA.
Jones still has a good outside shot and also has a previous stint here in Orlando. His three-point shot helps but Orlando is looking for someone with more than just a shot.
The Magic would probably prefer to go with a younger guard than Vaughn or Jones although both would be experienced and decent options.
Risky Picks: Jamaal Tinsley, Jason Williams
Kennedy: Jamal Tinsley and Jason Williams are my risky picks and would include Stephon Marbury but let's be realistic. Otis Smith wasn't interested in him last season and he sure as hell isn't interested in UStream's main attraction now. This leaves Jamal Tinsley and Jason Williams who are each risky but for completely different reasons.
Williams will be turning thirty-four at the start of the season and hasn't played professional basketball in over a year after a temporary retirement. While he reportedly had an impressive workout with the New York Knicks, they renounced their exclusive negotiating rights and are exploring other options. Willians and Stan Van Gundy do have history with one another from their days in Miami and he does reside in Orlando so the Magic could attract the veteran, but whether or not he is worth the risk looms.
Tinsley, on the other hand, has proven that he can quarterback an offense and is an excellent floor general. Two seasons ago he nearly averaged a double-double and with the Magic's weapons around him, he could be very successful. That is, if character issues don't get in the way. Last season, he sat out the entire year and was banned from attending Pacers' practices and games. He has also had run-ins with the law and may not be the best locker room presence. Last season, Smith wasn't interested in the troubled point guard and while he may be the most talented player mentioned in this article that may very well be the case again.
Mass: Jamaal Tinsley is considered by many around the NBA as a huge risk. However, after being banished by the Indiana Pacers for an entire year, Tinsley has something to prove.
The big question here is not Tinsley's ability but whether you pick up a guy with his checkered past and risk the chemistry of a team that went to the NBA Finals last season?
He also is very injury prone. This reminds me of a player who came in and actually was one of the few bright spots for the Magic during that ill-fated 2003-2004 season. That player was Rod Strickland. While at the end of his career, Strickland was able to push the ball up the floor and help this team get a few of those very few victories that season before being released to go to a contender after the trading deadline.
Tinsley could step in and do a good job next season. The team in 2003-2004 was a lot different though and they were desperate. Orlando is not desperate right now and Tinsley just might not be worth the risk.
Over the past few days, there has been speculation surrounding guard Jason Williams. He suddenly retired last season after signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. This leads me to believe a losing situation does not appeal to him if he is only going to make the minimum. His first option is likely to get some more money for his family and future. If that does not come about though, he could look at signing with a contender like Orlando.
That leads to another question as to whether he can or thinks he can beat out Anthony Johnson for the backup point guard slot. This is a toss up at best and if he could not, would he get upset at the end of the bench?
Injury Prone: Juan Dixon, Mike Wilks
Kennedy: Juan Dixon is a good reserve player but he has never finished an entire season since being drafted in 2002. He averages around sixty-two games per season and has bounced around the league with questionable health for the past two seasons. At thirty-one years old, Dixon may have been an option several years ago but his health and aging makes him a question mark.
Wilks has been on ten rosters in six years and while he had a brief stint with Orlando, he was never on the active roster due to injury. The career journeyman is injury prone and would be buried on the depth chart, behind Anthony Johnson. He's a decent roster filler but not what the Magic are looking for.
Mass: The ole injury bug. Is the thing that hurts these next two players.
Juan Dixon is an injury option prone player although I've never really considered him as a guy who fits the point guard mold.
Last year, a lot of Magic fans including myself felt Mike Wilks did not cut it as the third point guard. The guy has been on a few teams the previous season and had not stuck anywhere. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to prove anyone wrong as he got injured in the preseason and did not play before being traded at the deadline in the Rafer Alston deal. While I've heard great things about Wilks heart, the Magic need a more proven or talented option.
Worst Overall: Mike Taylor, Gabe Pruitt
Kennedy: Nothing against the young guys but Gabe Pruitt and Mike Taylor wouldn't even be getting mentioned if it weren't for their upside. But with Orlando gearing for another deep playoff run, the two raw guards are the worst options for the Magic. Both players are raw and poor shooters who don't have the experience to lead a contending team. While both are very athletic, that doesn't cut it.
Mass: I are not saying these are bad options. Unfortunately, we all saw what happened when Jameer Nelson went down last season and with Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu gone, it is more important to have a good third string point guard who can step in and play next season.
Mike Taylor and Gabe Pruitt are young point guards who were let go by the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics respectively. Both could use some time in the NBDL though and The Magic need someone who can play next season not a D-Leaguer.
Many of you are probably shaking your heads regarding such a long piece on who is going to be the third-string point guard next season. Well, the third-stringer is more important this year. The Magic are now at a level where not winning a championship is a bad season. We are not in that getting past the second-round mode anymore here folks. Everyone saw what happened when Jameer Nelson went down. Up until then, there were only two point guards on the roster (if you do not count the injured Mike Wilks) with Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu handling the point at times. Vince Carter might be able to do this at times this season although this has been proven yet. Regardless of how you look at things, there are less options at the point this year.
After Nelson went down, it was a disaster because you need a real point guard out there to get you into your offense and you can only count on players like Turkoglu to handle the ball in certain situations, not the full game and he is not here anymore. The combination of Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue did not work. Thankfully, General Otis Smith pulled that last-second deal for Rafer Alston or the Magic could have been bounced from the first round.
Alston was traded to New jersey in the Carter deal so The Magic are back where they started last season with Jameer Nelson and Anthony Johnson at the point. What happens if Nelson has to miss time again, do you really want Johnson and a backup like Mike Wilks as your guys to get the job done? We don't think so!
This is why it is so critical to have a good third option and that this option be able to even compete with Anthony Johnson. Before Nelson went down, many knocked Johnson as a third-point guard. He did a great job in the backup role as a player and while we all like and respect him, this team needs to have at least someone who can at least platoon with him should Nelson have to miss a stretch during the season.
Many of us believe C.J. Watson is a good talent who can at least platoon with Johnson next season and even beat him out for the backup role. Unfortunately, Golden State does not want to let him go for nothing and the Magic do not have many options to get him.
It is always possible that they use that huge $8 or $9 million Trade Exception in a deal that lands them a point guard and we would not be surprised if they signed one of those players that gets cut right before the March 1 playoff roster deadline as the third point guard. The problem is there are no guarantees that the right player will be available in February or March. The Magic need to strike before training camp and land someone who can step in if the Magic experience another young devastating injury like last season.
Why can't we just give them Marcus Banks for a second round pick and problem solved?