Fournier & France Win FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal

In his first showing with the French men’s senior national basketball team, the Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier has won a bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup having defeated Lithaunia 95-93 on Saturday in the 3rd Place Game. It was a thrilling rematch of the 2013 EuroBasket Final that transformed into a free throw duel at the finish. France follows up gold at last year’s EuroBasket with their first ever medal at the FIBA World Cup. Nicolas Batum led France with 27 points while Jonas Valanciunas led his Lithuanian side with 25 points. Fournier would only play 16 minutes – sitting out the entire fourth period – as he finished with 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist on 0-for-4 shooting (0-of-1 on 3s). As with many of Evan’s games in Spain, Fournier’s impact is larger than the statistics indicate.

Below is details of the contest.

 

Lithuania may have had an extra day of rest than France, but it was Lithuania’s first time playing in Madrid having been in Barcelona for their previous knockout games. Fournier checked in with France up 7-5 at the 5:29 mark. Evan missed his first attempt, a 3-pointer from the left side. Fournier Vdid a decent job of guarding former Duke Blue Devil Martynas Pocius. Evan would drive up the middle for a nice lefty dish down to Antoine Diot for an easy baseline bucket. A Nicolas Batum 3-pointer to beat the buzzer put France up 22-19 after one period. No signs of French fatigue considering their Semifinals match occurred 18 hours prior to tip-off of this 3rd Place Game.

Evan would sit to begin the second period but checked back in at the 4:23 mark of the first half with the French up 34-32 as Batum and Joffrey Lauvergne were performing fantastically. Fournier would force Pocius into fouling him on a right to left drive into the paint. The 6’6″ guard would make both free throws. It was intriguing seeing massive centers Jonas Valanciunas and Rudy Gobert take up an enormous amount of space around the rim with their physicality.

Fournier would sit with 1:24 until halftime having tallied 4 points on 1-for-2 shooting with a rebound and an assist in 8 minutes. Or so I thought. FIBA would take Evan’s field goal make away and award it to Gobert for a questionable putback. The French led 43-42 at the break. Lithuania’s 22-13 rebounding advantage is what kept the contest close. They had more offensive rebounds (12) than France had defensive (11). Valanciunas led his side with 12 points while Batum (13 points) and Lauvergne (11 points) paced France.

Evan checked in at the 8-minute mark with the French down 47-46 as Lithuania was making their perimeter shots. Gobert picked a bad time in the tourney to struggle on both ends of the court. Lithuania began to bury the French with numerous 3-pointers while fatigue started setting in for France and their offense stalled. Evan did a nice job of penetrating the paint and earning free throws. In transition, Evan would get up a tough righty banking floater over two Lithuanians which allowed Florent Pietrus to fly in and get the putback finish. Evan ended the third period with a difficult buzzer beating one-footed turnaround jumper off an offensive rebound that didn’t fall. France trailed 71-64 entering the last ten-minute session. Lithuania were 5-for-7 on 3-pointers in the third period.

Fournier opened the fourth quarter on the bench, and never reentered the contest. Coach Collet preferred an Antoine Diot and Florent Pietrus wing rotation off the bench. Thanks to some NBA-like plays from Batum and Diaw, France took a 77-75 lead with 4:34 remaining. Great comeback for Les Bleus. Valanciunas wouldn’t give in though as he’d score five straight points as he had his way with Gobert, Lauvergne, and Diaw. France again held the advantage, 82-80 with 1:27 left, after Diaw completed a ridiculous shake that Hakeem Olajuwon would have loved. Lithuania was dominating the boards in the first 3 periods, only to give up the result by letting France out-rebound them when it mattered most in crunch time.

The French would prevail in the end after Valanciunas missed several attempts at the rim followed by yet another impressive Diaw drive and basket. It was all part of a 9-0 French run. All that was left was converting on free throws (which Thomas Heurtel almost blew) and playing adequate enough defense. Lithuania actually got within 1 before French decided not to choke the contest away. All with Evan and his benched teammates looking beyond nervous. It was a lengthy amount of free throws for both squads in that last minute of play that took about 20 minutes to complete. Congratulations on your first FIBA World Cup medal, Evan and France.

Click above for Fournier’s tourney stats. Even though Evan didn’t personally have the best conclusion to his tournament, we know Fournier had a massive role in getting the French to this accomplishment. In 9 games, Fournier averaged 6.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg, and 1.2 apg on 38.5 FG%, 68.2 FT%, and 24.1 3PT% at 15 minutes per contest. The 6.9 points per game were the 5th-highest on the roster. As has been documented numerous times, Evan managed to have a great tournament despite struggling with his 3-point shot (7-for-29) as Nicolas Batum’s SG backup. Fournier’s best games would come against Iran in the last Group A game, Croatia in the Round of 16, and against Serbia in the Semifinals.

Evan’s defense was a revelation of great habits that the Magic coaching staff can certainly utilize as well as his floor spacing and court vision versatility. I expect Fournier’s role under Coach Vincent Collet to grow heading into EuroBasket 2015, a tournament in which France hosts the final round. I would expect guys like Tony Parker and Joakim Noah to participate. Evan will head back to Orlando and rest up for 2 weeks before Magic training camp begins. This international experience should give the 6’6″ wing an abundance of confidence. Evan will have his opportunity to be the Magic’s starting shooting guard come Opening Night.

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

Exclusive Report: Orlando Magic Sign Devyn Marble

A source close to the situation confirms that the Orlando Magic have signed Devyn Marble. Terms of the agreement are unknown at this time, but an official team announcement is expected this weekend. The 56th overall Draft selection being signed, along with the expected official signings of Channing Fryeand Ben Gordon, means the Magic roster will currently be at 14 players.

The 21-year-old 6′ 6″ Iowa Hawkeyes alum played in all five Orlando Summer League contests. Devyn saw time at four court positions. Marble averaged 9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, and 1.2 spg on 37.2 FG% (16-of-43)  and 31.3 3PT% (5-of-16). Marble proved capable of contributing defense and rebounding even if his jump shot was not falling. His confidence and great character make this another quality Rob Hennigan signing.

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

Orlando Magic are STILL paying Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert “Hibachi-Agent Zero” Arenas is the gift that keeps on giving. The player acquired in the famous “untradeable for untradeable” trade in the Year of Our Lord 2010, played a total of 46 games for Orlando before being waived via the amnesty provision in 2011. At the time he was waived, Arenas had 3 years and just over $60M in salary owed to him.

Part of the “Amnesty Provision” is that even though the player was waived, he is still due his entire contracted salary. If the original contract had stood, Gilbert would have still counted against Orlando’s salary cap  for the final time at $20M+ in 2013-2014 season. It was thought, that the era had officially ended. BUT NO!

 

In a not so surprising move by the Magic franchise, it appears that they renegotiated some of those final paycheck$ and deferred the money. Further research into the internetz has shown that Gilbert himself had already broken that story back in April during a phone call to a local DC radio program.

“Noooo, no, that’s been a fib for awhile,” Arenas replied. “No, when they did the amnesty [clause], when the amnesty came in, I think it was two years ago, what they did was, instead of me getting paid $20 [million] a year, they extended the years and dropped the money down. So instead of getting 20 I was getting 12 for a longer period of time. So I’m still getting paid until 2016.”

Keep gettin’ ‘dem checks, Gil.

Arron Afflalo’s “Courageous Effort” Propels Magic Past Bucks

Moe Harkless drives, spins and slams against the Milwaukee Bucks

After trailing by as many as 19 points and looking completely dead in the water early, Arron Afflalo and the Orlando Magic wore down the Milwaukee Bucks and eventually took their first lead mid-way through the 4th quarter on an Afflalo three pointer. The Magic were able to hold that lead and come away with a hard fought 94-91 win on their home court.

Arron Afflalo was the hero of the night behind a career high 36 points and a career high eight 3-point makes. He also filled in the stat sheet with eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. After the game, Afflalo was quick to pass on the praise for his performance to the improved play of his teammates. In reality, the Magic had no chance to get back into the game tonight if it wasn’t for Afflalo’s insanely red-hot shooting.

Trailing by 13 points with 30 seconds left in the first half, a Jameer Nelson layup and then a Moe Harkless steal and layup as time expired brought the Magic within nine at halftime. Afflalo would make three 3-pointers within the first three minutes of the second half to bring the Magic permanently back into the game.

Jacque Vaughn made a key defensive adjustment in the second half by choosing to start Ronnie Price over Jason Maxiell, allowing the Magic to keep pace with the small-ball underhanded Bucks squad.  Price’s intensity on the defensive end helped Orlando to allow just 55 points in the final three quarters after allowing 36 points in the first quarter alone. The scrappy backup point guard played 25 minutes on the night and managed to grab a career high seven rebounds.

Milwaukee dressed just 8 players tonight as Zaza Pachulia, Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and Carlos Delfino were all sidelined with various injures.

Nik Vucevic put up 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Maurice Harkless had 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Harkless played with much more ferocity on both ends of the floor than he has throughout the early part of the season.

O.J. Mayo had 25 points for Milwaukee, while Caron Butler put up 20 and Khris Middleton had 19.

The Magic now hold a 15-game win streak against the Milwaukee Bucks in games played in Orlando. While it looked like that streak was going to be broken through the first 24 minutes of action, Arron Afflalo stepped in and saved the day.

The Magic, now 4-5 on the year, are off until Saturday night when they host the Dallas Mavericks at 7:00.

[Video] Bill Simmons & Jalen Rose break down the Orlando Magic – poorly.

For their official 2013-14 NBA Preview, Grantland Head-Overreacter Bill Simmons and the sneakily good Jalen Rose are breaking down all 30 teams in reverse order according to ”The Sports Guy’s” rankings. The duo teamed up and are doing 10-15 minute preview videos for each team, that so far through three, are quite entertaining. Simmons has the Orlando Magic ranked as the 28th (out of 30) best team in the league.

Relevent notes:

  • Simmons is convinced they are going to “really, really suck” – but sees hope in Wiggins or Randle. Deep.
  • They also didn’t realize that Jacque Vaughn is NOT a brand new coach in Orlando. Nor did anyone who produces these segments at Grantland. Bravo.
  • Neither Jalen or Bill can pronounce Nik Vucevic’s name.
  • Clairvoyant Bill predicts that Victor Oladipo will win the Rookie of the Year, immediately after arguinging that he was going to struggle because the team will try to play him at PG. Jalen Rose disagrees and predicts Cody Zeller will win it.
  • “Champagne and Campaign” – Jalen Rose rated Orlando as basically worthless because he only visits with his family. No love for all of our chain restaurants and awful strip clubs.
  • Simmons predicts that the franchise will rig the season with fake injuries and associated tom foolery.
  • Overall, not much insight to the actual team – including an incorrect depth chart.

Orlando’s Core Beams Optimism at Media Day

Well, we’re here. Time to shove the 20-win nightmare to the side and start from scratch. The best thing about Media Day is that everyone is smiling. The day before tip-off of Training Camp also brings hopes, dreams, and high expectations for an individual and an organization as a whole. Ignore the numerous viewpoints that another season of tanking is the assumed solution and that the playoffs should be the last thing on the Magic’s mind. Enjoy interviews from GM Rob Hennigan, Head Coach Jacque Vaughn, and the ‘core’ group of Magic men.

 

Rob Hennigan:

Notice that even ‘Henny’ isn’t hiding the fact that Hedo Turkoglu is done in O-Town.

 

Jacque Vaughn:

 

Jameer Nelson:

If you go in with a ‘Last of the Mohicans’ mindset, you appreciate this interview even more.

Click for more Magic men.

Arron Afflalo:

Tobias Harris:

The 17 pounds of added muscle are not a lie, T12 is going to terminate some folks.
Nikola Vucevic:

Nik’s disappointment over EuroBasket will be some great fuel to continue improving. Also, he legitimately appears 7’0″.
Andrew Nicholson & Maurice Harkless double interview edition:

I never want to deal with that again.

Orlando Magic sign draft pick Romero Osby, plus free agents Joseph, Gladness, Harris and Jones

Romero Osby signs his first NBA contract with the Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic have signed rookie forward Romero Osby, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. In addition to Osby, the Magic have signed free agents Mickell Gladness (#40, 6-11, 220, 7/26/86, Alabama A&M), Manny Harris (#3, 6-5, 185, 9/21/89, Michigan), Solomon Jones (#22, 6-10, 245, 7/16/84, South Florida) and Kris Joseph (#32, 6-7, 210, 12/17/88, Syracuse). The roster currently stands at 19 players, including Hedo Turkoglu who is likely to be waived prior to the start of the season.

It was previously reported that Michael Eric, a big man who played Summer League with the Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors, would be signed – but Gladness was signed in his place.

Osby (AHZ-bee, 6’8”, 230, 5/7/90) was selected by Orlando in the second round (51st overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft. He appeared and started in 63 career games during two seasons at the University of Oklahoma, averaging 14.4 ppg., 7.2 rpg. and 1.1 apg. in 29.4 minpg., while shooting .509 (321-631) from the field. Osby also played in 71 games (three starts) in two seasons at Mississippi State University, averaging 4.2 ppg. and 2.6 rpg. in 12.8 minpg.

Orlando begins the preseason in Jacksonville, Florida against New Orleans on Wednesday, October 9. The Magic will host their preseason home opener at the Amway Center on Friday, October 11against Cleveland. Tip-off is 7 p.m. The Magic open the 2013-14 regular season at Indiana on Tuesday, October 29. Orlando’s regular season home opener will be on Friday, November 1 against New Orleans.

The Magic will also host an “Open House” at Amway Center, which will be free to the public, on Saturday, October 12 from noon-3 p.m. For more information, you can visit OrlandoMagic.com.

Source: Orlando Magic likely to name GM by end of the week; new GM to make Dwight decision.

A source close to the decision making process within the Orlando Magic organization has informed me that the team is close, and likely to name their new General Manager by the end of the week. Many names have surfaced as potential candidates with many of them set to be interviewed in the next few days. Jeff Bower, Spurs Assistant GM Dennis Lindsey, Thunder Assistant GM Rob Hennigan, Kevin Pritchard, Mitch Kupchak and Donnie Walsh have all been rumored to be potential candidates.

More importantly, my source has also said that the new GM will make the decision on Dwight.  Meaning that if Dwight isn’t ready to commit long term, that the new GM will have the authority to either trade Howard or to move forward with one more year of the what-if’s. This initially seems to be contrary to the DeVos and Alex Martins previous iterations of decision-making authority, but it may be a strong piece in recruiting a powerful GM into the organization.

Obviously this is subject to change pending how the interviews go, but regardless the team should have a clearer path forward heading into the next week.

Jameer Nelson begged Avery Bradley, “don’t pick me up”. It didn’t work.

Avery Bradley, the Boston Celtics backup PG who was starting in place of the injured Rajon Rondo, played stifling defense on Jameer Nelson throughout Orlando’s record setting low output and loss to Boston on Monday night. Anyone who watched the game could immediately tell that Bradley was getting into the head of Nelson.

When asked by Brent Barry of NBATV what he saw from Jameer Nelson in the 3rd quarter, Avery Bradley responded with a very telling quote:

“You know what, he seemed like he didn’t really want to bring the ball up. I looked at him and he kept telling me throughout the game, ‘don’t pick me up, don’t pick me up’ and that’s when I knew that if I brought pressure he didn’t want nothing to do with it.” – Avery Bradley

On first glance that quote is a lot more than telling, it’s completely damning of Jameer Nelson. Once entitled as the ultimate chip-on-his-shoulder competitor, Jameer’s confidence right now is clearly shaken. I have no doubt that Jameer was saying those things to Bradley in a tongue in cheek manner, but those are the types of jokes that are made on the court that are much more serious than they are a joke.

Further backing it up was the fact that Jameer could do virtually nothing against Bradley’s defense other than just bring the ball up the court. By the time Jameer made it past the three-point line and tried to get the Magic into their offense, there was often less than 10 seconds on the clock.  Or, ins less words, a recipe for offensive disaster.

While Jameer’s confidence may be shaken, it’s his actual inability to initiate the offense that is a major concern at this point.  In 15 games, Jameer has played well in maybe 3 or 4 out of those. The PGs he faced in those games were Derek Fisher, Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin. Three players who are known around the league as either 1) having no interest in playing defense or 2)being 37 years old.

The Boston game plan against Orlando has always been to out-physical Dwight and his teammates. The rest of the league now has a free lesson in the “full court press” from Avery Bradley and Doc Rivers on how to not just stop Jameer Nelson, but to shut down the entire Orlando defense. Thanks a lot, Doc!

You can watch the full video of Avery Bradley being interview by NBATV here.

Orlando Magic Officially Waive Gilbert Arenas – Magic Hibachi Era Has Ended

#winning

The Orlando Magic announced this afternoon, roughly 40 minutes after they were allowed to, that they have released Gilbert Arenas.  Didn’t take long, did it?

I wrote a breakdown of the Amnesty Provision a few weeks ago and how it relates to the Magic. The following section is what I wrote about Gil at the time.

Why Gil?

Because Gil makes a LOT of money.  Gilbert’s salary for 2011-2012 is around $19.2M.  Assuming the team salary number for this upcoming season is similar to last year, Gil’s contract alone covers the luxury tax payment. Meaning that Gil’s true cost is actually DOUBLE his salary. Do you think Rich Devos enjoys paying $38M in one year for a player that he had to be talked into acquiring in the first place?

Financials aside, the team must ask themselves if Gilbert Arenas can be the player that they thought he was when he was traded for. He showed glances of it last year, but it was sporadic at best. Is that knee properly rehabbed? Did he work with Tim Grover in the offseason like he was supposed to? Can the Magic use Jameer Nelson as one of their few trade assets to return an impact player at another position? Are they comfortable with Chris Duhon as the primary backup PG?  Does Dwight Howard trust Gilbert? Does Dwight want Gilbert? Isn’t that what it all boils down to anyways?

Even if they amnesty Gil, it doesn’t create cap space to acquire a free agent because they are still over the cap. Everything would still have to be done through exceptions and sign and trades.  It comes down to 1) Are they willing to pay to find out if he can produce? and 2) Can he be relied upon if Jameer is traded?

Goodbye Gil

It turns out that the Magic were not willing to pay to find out what he still had left in the tank. In order to use the amnesty this season, they would have had to use it by December 16th. Without being willing to take the risk of having Gil around – and obviously paying for it – the Magic made the right decision to jettison him off.

Plank in peace, Gil.