The Orlando Magic are once again in the rebuilding process with center Dwight Howard inevitably on the move. The Magic have also parted ways with 2011-12 NBA Most Improved Player Ryan Anderson. In last month’s NBA Draft, the Magic selected two college seniors in St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson and Norfolk State’s Kyle O’Quinn. Both will play roles in helping Orlando become a winning franchise once again. But one thing that the Orlando Magic are missing, is a cornerstone, a person to be the face of the franchise for years to come and a basket for the Magic to put their eggs in.
With the proposed trades for Howard whether it be to Houston, Atlanta or even the Lakers, the Magic are likely to pick up role players, expiring contracts and draft choices. Even if Orlando gets All-Star center Andrew Bynum for Los Angeles, he likely will not be staying with the Magic for very long. So despite how good Howard has been for the Magic over the past six years, Orlando probably won’t be acquiring the team’s next superstar in a deal for him.
The Orlando Magic are going to have to find some one that they can build around, their cornerstone. With maybe (and that’s even debatable) the exception of the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons, every championship franchise over the past 25 years has had one. If the Magic want to once again be a championship contender or even a perennial playoff team, they will need to find one. Finding one however, doesn’t have to come immediately.
As said before, the Magic are not going to acquire a franchise player from any deal for Dwight Howard. But perhaps one of the draft picks attained in a deal for Howard could eventually become that cornerstone of the franchise that Orlando is looking for. After all, Howard came to Orlando as the first overall draft pick following the dismal 2003-04 season.
Should the Magic pick up expiring contracts in exchange for the superstar big man, Orlando will have plenty of money to spend in the years to come. After Anfernee Hardaway left Orlando following the 1998-99 season, the Magic played with a squad of misfits known to this day in Central Florida as the, “Heart and Hustle Team”. Next season’s Magic squad may look quite the same, but following the overachieving efforts of Heart and Hustle team that finished 41-41, the Magic were able to acquire Detroit Piston superstar Grant Hill and central Florida native Tracy McGrady. Hill’s Orlando career was mauled with injury, but McGrady transformed into a superstar. While the Magic did not win a championship or even get past the first round with T-Mac, they did make three straight playoff appearances, something that had only been done once in team history. Had Hill been the player that Orlando thought it had acquired, who knows how good those Magic teams may have been?
The Magic may be looking ahead to a season filled with players with expiring contracts and guys that no one really wants. But in the upcoming offseasons, Orlando should have plenty of cash to go out and sign players to help the franchise become relevant once again. Whether it comes through the draft or free agency, finding a new face of the franchise likely isn’t all that far away. If Magic fans over the past 20 years have learned anything, it’s that building a championship caliber team takes time and a little bit of luck.
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