You can't help but root for affable Al. Here's hoping he can say good-bye on his terms.
Bang for your buck?
Here's a mind-numbing factoid: The Magic have about $62 million tied up in contracts for players . . . . who currently are not playing or on the roster.
The biggest deal, of course, is the $20.8 million this season owed to Gilbert Arenas, who was let go via the NBA's amnesty clause. (And Arenas still has one more year at a $22.3 million next season! It's the grift that keeps on grifting.)
The Magic are paying or have paid four other players who aren't around: Hakim Warrick ($4 million), Quentin Richardson ($2.6 million), Christian Eyenga ($1.7 million) and Justin Harper ($762,000). Richardson and Harper were holdovers; Eyenga came over in the Howard deal; and Warrick's contract (but not Warrick) arrived from Charlotte in exchange for Josh McRoberts.
The following players are on the roster, but are not playing due to season-ending injuries or season-ending decisions by the club: Hedo Turkoglu ($11.8 million) Afflalo ($7.5 million), Harrington ($.6.6 million) and Glen Davis ($6.4 million).
First (-round) Noel?
Can the Magic afford to gamble on injured freshman Kentucky star Nerlens Noel with a lottery pick?
In any other draft with more impact players, the obvious answer is no. But this draft apparently features just one potential game-changer — Noel.
Noel can block shots and has a defensive presence at 6-10 — something the Magic desperately lack.
Noel had surgery to repair a torn ACL in mid-March after being injured a month earlier. Players can show remarkable recoveries from ACL injuries (see Adrian Peterson), but it's still a risk.
Grant Hill hobbling into Orlando to sign a $98-million contract still haunts the Magic. The franchise steered clear of Andrew Bynum in a possible Howard trade (bravo!) and passed on Jared Sullinger (recovering from back surgery) in last year's draft.
Do they dare to be great by picking Noel (some team will) and pair him with Nik Vucevic — or play it safe?
The Magic could take Noel and give him all next season to recover. They would continue to bottom out so they'd have a shot at Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker in next season's draft.
Did you see that Phil Jackson has joined Twitter? Soon he'll buy a cell phone. His first tweet: "11 champ:ipnsikp[ ringhs." Huh? It was all part of a clever promotion. In a video, Jackson's back is to the camera as he's typing away, exasperated. His computer screen then shows he's typed that unintelligible tweet. The he spins around and holds up his hands — where he has his heavy championship rings on 11 fingers — and says, "I take these off, right?"