The Magic went all-in over the weekend making two separate trades to help keep up in the Eastern conference. It was becoming increasingly clear that Orlando was falling behind Boston and Miami in the pecking order so GM Otis Smith pulled the trigger on two trades acquiring Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark for Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, and a first-round pick.
On the floor the trades appear to be a net minus for Orlando. Before the trades the Magic was projected for 55 wins with a 25 percent chance at beating the Heat for the division title. After the moves Orlando is now nearly three projected wins worse with just under a 15 percent chance at the division.
Arenas is shooting just 39 percent from the field this season, and is just a 42 percent career shooter. He is also a high turnover rate player. Turkoglu once fit in well with this team, but he appears to be a shell of his former self. The swap from Carter to Richardson appears to be negligible and all three players are poor defenders putting more pressure on Dwight Howard. The moves also leave a void behind Howard in the middle. Marcin Gortat was considered one of the best back-ups in the league. That job will now be manned by Brandon Bass (who will likely start at PF) and Ryan Anderson. It has actually already been reported the team is looking to move Chris Duhon and/or Quentin Richardson to find another back-up big man.
While the moves may not have helped Orlando, it is at least understandable why the team made them. The Magic was clearly third in the pecking order, and it was looking increasingly unlikely it could not win a title as previously constituted. Something had to be done to shake up the roster, and this was about as bold a makeover as one could imagine. While the commitment to winning might be admirable, these moves don’t look like enough to keep Orlando in the title discussion.
For Phoenix, as I said, Carter is roughly the same as Richardson. Gortat should provide a big boost in the middle for a team that has zero size outside of Robin Lopez. Pietrus probably gets lost among the wing players already in Phoenix. The big upside for the Suns is giving away Turkoglu’s contract. On the court, simulations project them to be about one win worse and still 9th in the West. While Phoenix is also eight percent less likely to make the playoffs, the move could actually help more than expected if Gortat can help solve some of the defensive and rebounding issues that have plagued this squad for years.
This move for Washington was all about saving money as Lewis’ contract effectively ends in 2012 (the last year is non-guaranteed) and moving on from Arenas. The trade actually looks to help the Wizards on the floor as well since Lewis is a moderately useful frontcourt player and removes Arenas’ shooting percentages from the equation. The simulations also assume John Wall should return to health soon and play most of the remaining games.