Head coach Stan Van Gundy received a contract extension through the 2012 – 2013 season. Otis Smith received the same extension, and a promotion to president of basketball operations.
Magic ownership has invested heavily in the franchise. Otis Smith often compliments the DeVoe family as being the “best owners in sports”.
The DeVoe family gave indications the respect remains mutual.
Smith turned around a Magic organization, whose previous general manager came from hockey. Enter the Steve Francis era of errors and failure. Prior to that, things ended badly with Tracy McGrady, ‘Penny’ Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal.
With a new state of the art arena opening next season, most of which will be funded with public money, the organization must now make good on it’s promises.
The team played in the Eastern Conference Finals two consecutive years, and earned a place in the NBA Finals in one of those instances. After 20 years of highs and lows, Magic fans remained steadfast for the most part.
They complained when the basketball got too bad, and put their heart behind Dwight Howard and the team’s run in the playoffs the past two season. Both times, fans found themselves disappointed.
It’s time in Orlando. The DeVoe family senses that as well. They also realize they can only continue to spend large sums of money, but for so much longer. Now Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy see the bottom of the well.
We can probably assume that if 2012-2013 rolls around with no championship parade in Orlando, Smith and Van Gundy will be looking for new employment.
Does that also signal the end of Superman in Orlando? Dwight Howard will be a free agent. Does ownership intend to keep Howard, and change the leadership around him? They could intend to make this their best shot, assuming Howard will look for greener pastures, if the new arena remains bannerless.
Note that J.J. Redick will also be entering free agency at the same time.
In fact, barring any player contract extensions, the Magic will potentially have only one player on the payroll at the end of the 2012-2013 season— Marcin Gortat.
And just in case you’re wondering, Chris Paul’s current contract would be ending that same season. Emeka Okafor, Paul’s center in New Orleans, would have only one season left, which would also be a player option. If this is a go for broke period for the franchise, the seemed poised to make a trade for Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets.
So the Magic would be in a position to dump it all and start from scratch, or rebuild with plenty of cap space. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and some future draft pick might be gearing up for a title defense, or a run at a Three Peat.
On the down side, a disgruntled Dwight Howard could be preparing for the Summer of Superman. Secret meetings and covert phone calls already made to future teammates, precipitating a free agent move to a different team.
The next three seasons will be fun. Everyone knew it had to be done, but now we know by when. Until now, hope sprang eternal.
But we’re Orlando Magic fans. We know every good beginning can have a bad end.
Here’s to 2012-2013, and everything in between.