By Jerel Marshall
Unless you were under a rock this weekend (or a horrific snow storm) you probably heard about the drastic changes the Orlando Magic made to their roster. Monday night marked the first time new additions Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark reported for action.
Any time a team undergoes a makeover it takes time to adjust but this will prove to be an even bigger challenge for the Magic as their landmark trades happened to go down right before a six game in nine day stretch.
Before Monday night’s game against the Hawks, head coach Stan Van Gundy pointed out the irony of trying to pull his new team together to take on Atlanta.
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“The Hawks have been together for six years,” Van Gundy said. “We haven’t even been together for six hours yet so we have a little bit of an experience deficit.”
The most interesting part of this transition will be seeing how Van Gundy deals with the newfound depth in the back-court. He is going to have to split playing time and touches between Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Reddick and Jason Richardson. It doesn’t help that Turkoglu feels most comfortable when he has the ball in his hand and they still have to try to please franchise player Dwight Howard down in the post.
“I think our depth on the perimeter is pretty damn good,” Van Gundy boasted. “Probably what is gonna’ effect guys minutes more than anything else is how they play. Over long periods of time if you’re not producing there’s not reason to run you out there.”
Turkoglu said he was happy to come back to Orlando because he feels his talents fit in here more than they did in Toronto or Phoenix.
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“I just want to be using the stuff that I’m good at,” he said. “I like being in the pick-and-roll and just being a creatable guy looking for the best shot for me or for my teammates. I was able to be that when I was making those decisions even in crunch time.”
Turkoglu might be in for a disappointment as Van Gundy said he isn’t sure how often he going to allow him to facilitate.
“We will certainly put the ball in his hands during pick-and-rolls,” Van Gundy said. “Will we do it as much as we did before? Probably not quite honestly because Jason (Richardson) is a scorer and Gilbert (Arenas) is a scorer and a guy who will run a lot of pick-and-rolls so it will be split up a little more. I don’t think anybody, including Dwight (Howard), will get as many shots as they have been getting up to now.”
Despite all of the challenges they have to overcome the team already has a little bit of chemistry. Turkoglu helped lead the the Magic to the finals just a couple of years ago and Arenas and Richardson seem to be excited to play together again as they both spent their rookie seasons in Golden State.
“We’ve been knowing each other forever,” Richardson said. “We came in the league together.”
Considering the rumors that were circulating that Howard was unhappy with teammates Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, any sign of good chemistry is an improvement.
There have been some speculations that Howard had some input in the recent transactions but Howard refused to comment on the topic. However, he did say that he plans on welcoming his new teammates with open arms.
It’s not often that a team that made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals makes such a dramatic change so it will be interesting to see how things play out down in Orlando.
“We got about four months to become a good team,” Van Gundy admitted..