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WATCH: Magic Exit Interviews Leading into 2016 Offseason

2016 April 14
by Adam Papageorgiou

vicexit

The Orlando Magic are certainly disappointed that they are not participating in yet another postseason. The pain of experiencing a horrible stretch from January through mid-March was still in many voices. But they are 10 wins better than last season. They are close to making that next jump. It’s just a matter of how the team chooses to improve itself. Here’s to a successful offseason for all associated with the franchise.

Free agency, national team duty, personal and team improvement, all were just some topics brought up.

Rob Hennigan:

 

Scott Skiles:

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Orlando Concludes 2015-2016 Season with Defeat in Charlotte

2016 April 13
by Adam Papageorgiou
Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic have concluded their 2015-2016 season with a 35-47 record after falling in Charlotte to the Hornets 117-103 on Wednesday evening. That’s still a ten-victory improvement in comparison to last Magic season. Still, all Scott Skiles will think about is that awful January and February that saw the team go from a playoff team to a struggling mess.

It’s the 4th straight year this franchise won’t be in the playoffs as an enormous summer looms to try and improve the squad. Orlando never led this final contest, but threatened to take the lead early in the fourth period despite trailing by as many as 22 points to the Hornets.

Aaron Gordon notched a career-tying 22 points in his first game back after recovering from a concussion suffered last week. Evan Fournier also tallied 22 points. Nikola Vucevic added 17 points. Mario Hezonja contributed 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. The problem was obviously defense though, giving up 54.7 FG% to the hosts. Al Jefferson led the Hornets with 26 points.

Below is the game recap.

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Source: Orlando Won’t Entertain a Dwight Howard Return

2016 April 13
by Adam Papageorgiou

d12

A source in contact with the Orlando Magic front office confirms to Magic Basketball Online that the team will not pursue former franchise center Dwight Howard this upcoming offseason. The 30-year-old will most likely utilize the opt-out clause in his contract with the Houston Rockets, which would then make him a free agent. Howard will be seeking one last massive deal with his prime years behind him.

There have been murmurs of #12 coming back to O-Town ever since Shams Charania of The Vertical reported in mid-March that Dwight dumped Dan Fegan as his agent and replaced Fegan with Shaquille O’Neal‘s agent, Perry Rogers.

The potential Shaq-Dwight ‘partnership’ is a rather peculiar one considering the two have had verbal spats when O’Neal was still playing, and even earlier this 2016 calendar year (deep into Shaq’s retirement). The tug-of-war over the claiming of the ‘Superman’ nickname has never vanished over the long period in time. Charania does mention the marketing aspect, and money can turn rivals into allies really quickly.

O’Neal stopped playing in the NBA after the 2010-2011 season. The 44-year-old will soon be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Shaq’s advertising deals are not disappearing any time soon, but why not also try and make some extra money by partnering up with an active player that you have something in common with? Ride that gravy train. Dwight isn’t the perennial All-Star and top-10 league player that he once was with the Magic, but Howard is still likely to get offered a maximum salary by one of the 30 teams in the Association. A successful rehabilitation of Dwight’s image could once again attract the attention of advertisers.

None of this interests the Orlando front office though, no matter how many rumors you may hear of a ‘Magic-Dwight’ reunion this upcoming offseason.

It’s important to the Magic to have quality individuals both on and off the court, and Howard doesn’t fall in line with the franchise’s viewpoint. Dwight has changed a lot since departing Orlando the first time back in 2012, and in many ways it hasn’t been for the better. You know my personal opinion on the matter.

Even if Dwight were to consider accepting some sort of ‘discount’ to come back to the Magic, the team is not interested at this time.

A popular rumor currently circulating is Dwight teaming up in Orlando with Chandler Parsons. The 27-year-old Dallas Mavericks forward was born in Casselberry, which is just north of downtown. Parsons attended high school at Lake Howell in nearby Winter Park, and is a Florida Gator. Parsons signed his Mavericks contract at a local club in downtown in the summer of 2014. He could opt out of that contract this summer in search of a larger payday as a free agent.

The source also informs ‘MBO’ that the Magic see multiple concerns when it comes to throwing a maximum contract in the direction of Chandler Parsons. The biggest worry is Parsons’ health. He’s now undergone 2 major surgeries in the past two years.

Magic GM Rob Hennigan and his front office staff undoubtedly have a lot of pressure to reach the playoffs in the 2016-2017 campaign. Ownership and fans won’t tolerate a fifth straight season of not making the playoffs. The team has potentially $45+ million in cap space to work with this summer. It would take all of the cap space they had to acquire Howard and Parsons. That may not be a wise decision considering how crucial it is to ‘get it right’.

The risk of a Dwight Howard return – as well as the acquisition of an also injury-prone Parsons – in Magic pinstripes crashing-and-burning in immense failure is far too high to even entertain the thought. There are better options with the assets and cap space currently in Orlando’s possession.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

WATCH: Orlando Players React to Final Home Win this Season

2016 April 11

orlbuck

It’s unknown how much of the current 14-man Orlando Magic roster will return come October, but they could at least enjoy one final victory at Amway Center this season and to leave their fans on a high. You have Dewayne Dedmon and Evan Fournier looking at free agency. Mario Hezonja trying to steal away minutes from other wings. Elfrid Payton trying to cement his status as the franchise’s point guard.

All of them have their own problems and worries, but they grouped together and pulled off one last short-handed victory. First time Orlando’s won their final home game since 2012.

Mario Hezonja:

 

Evan Fournier:

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Orlando Earns Victory Against Milwaukee on Fan Appreciation Night

2016 April 11
by Adam Papageorgiou

milorl

On Fan Appreciation Night, the Orlando Magic put a lot of smiles on fans’ faces as the final buzzer sounded on Monday night. Orlando took down the Milwaukee Bucks 107-98. On an evening where Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, and Aaron Gordon sat out due to injury, the pinstriped patrol got large contributions from several sources.

Ersan Ilyasova scored 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Mario Hezonja had his best game as a rookie: 19 points, a career-high 7 assists, a career-high 5 steals, and 3 rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting. Dewayne Dedmon tallied 17 points and 8 rebounds. Evan Fournier notched 13 points. Elfrid Payton tallied 11 points and 11 assists. Jason Smith was the sixth Magic man in double figures with 10 points.

Milwaukee never led in the contest. They got 23 points from Greg Monroe. Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton added 17 points each. Milwaukee shot 52.6 FG%. Orlando 48.8 FG%. Orlando made four more 3-pointers than their foes. The Magic shared the ball better too, a 28-18 advantage.

The Magic have 35 wins, ten more than last season. It’s progress when you don’t focus on two and a half months of disappointment in between. The Magic finish 23-18 at Amway Center.

Below is the game recap.

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Miami Gets Revenge for Friday by Knocking off Orlando

2016 April 10
by Adam Papageorgiou
Courtesy of the Miami Heat

Courtesy of the Miami Heat

At least we had Friday. The Orlando Magic looked like a team that needed more offensive support. Evan Fournier (21 points) and Nikola Vucevic (19 points) did about all they could, but the Miami Heat blew out the men in blue 118-96 on Sunday. Not having Aaron Gordon or Victor Oladipo available due to them following concussion protocol didn’t help. Miami wins the sunshine state rivalry season series 3-1.

The Heat needed this game to try and finish with a top-4 record. The Heat shot 55.8 FG% and made 11 more free throws than Scott Skiles‘ crew. Luol Deng led Miami with 20 points. Hassan Whiteside tallied 18 points and 15 rebounds. Goran Dragic had 19 points. Dwyane Wade added eighteen. Gerald Green poured in 15 off the Heat bench.

Below is the game recap.

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Orlando Interviews After Magic Defeat Miami at Amway Center

2016 April 8
Fernando Medina/Getty Images

Fernando Medina/Getty Images

Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson are the longest-tenured players currently on this Orlando Magic franchise. And yet, neither was on the team the last time the Magic took down the Miami Heat at home. It’s been a long time coming. For all of the phenomenal performances Vooch has put together against the Heat, the wins eluded him and the squad. Not on Friday.

Nikola Vucevic:

 

Evan Fournier:

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Magic Beat the Heat in Exciting Rivalry Matchup

2016 April 8
by Adam Papageorgiou
hezmia

Fernando Medina/Getty Images

The sunshine state matchup received a jolt of resuscitation as the Orlando Magic took down the Miami Heat 112-109 at Amway Center on Friday. The atmosphere was dominated most of the evening by Heat ‘fans’, but Orlando supporters would finally earn the last laugh and cheers on this night. It’s Orlando’s first home win against Miami since March 13, 2012.

Nikola Vucevic (29 points) and Evan Fournier (28 points) were absolutely brilliant. Both men came up with clutch moments on numerous occasions. Fournier shot 12-of-15 from the free throw line, which is more than the entire Heat’s 11-of-21 team outing from the charity stripe. Vooch had two ferocious jams. A kicking one on Dwyane Wade that sent the Heat guard to the floor, and the other a flying dunk in between Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson that ended up being the game-winner with 20.7 second on the clock.

Elfrid Payton chipped in with a solid 16 points and 10 assists. Before getting knocked out with a concussion in the 3rd period, Victor Oladipo finished with 13 points. Mario Hezonja poured in 9 points off the bench. The Croatian rookie along with C.J. Watson were on the floor down the stretch. Orlando shot 52.4 FG%. It’s not often you see the Magic make 10 more free throws than their rival.

The Magic somehow won despite losing the rebound battle 53-27. The Heat shot 18 more field goal attempts than the hosts, and won second chance points 31-8. Hassan Whiteside had 13 points and 16 rebounds off Miami’s bench. Dwyane Wade was held to 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting.

It’s a confidence-boosting win for a Magic team that had nothing to play for but pride. Orlando fans should feel plenty prideful after this victory.

Below is the game recap.

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The Basketball Universe Will Enjoy ‘This Magic Moment’ Come April 14th

2016 April 7
by Adam Papageorgiou
Courtesy of MBO

Courtesy of MBO

Whether you’re an Orlando Magic fan or a casual basketball viewer, I advise you to set your DVRs on your ESPN channel come April 14th between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST. 30 for 30 put together a film on the mid-’90s Magic and how they put Orlando on the sports map. It’s also a tale of how fortunes can quickly change. It’s called ‘This Magic Moment‘. It’s a fitting title considering how much happened in such a short amount of time.

It’s a documentary that brings excitement, but also sadness of course. Magic Basketball Online had the privilege of attending a private showing of the film on Thursday at the AMC Theatre in Disney Springs.

I won’t spoil anything. I will have a review-type post put together at a later date that will have my opinions. But I do want to point out a few things for those curious about how this film will go.

This film doesn’t piggyback much off of Grantland‘s oral history on the same mid-’90s Magic. The film has its own personality. The pacing of the 2-hour documentary (100 minutes without commercials) is solid, and your casual viewer should remain interested throughout.

Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway are executive producers on this documentary, but they don’t dominate the film. That’s a very good thing. Many people get interviewed. I’ll leave it at that.

The fun parts of the film are evened out by the pain brought to Magic fans. It’s what makes this a great film. This isn’t a documentary meant for diehard Magic fans, or folks that are born and/or raised in Orlando. The target audience is the rest of the country and the world. However, there’s enough unique material that even the most diehard of fans and amateur historians (like myself) will find worth tuning in for.

John Dahl, vice president and executive producer of ESPN Films, oversees all aspects of the 30 for 30 documentary film series. He’s a very passionate guy, and you admire the type of energy he brings just to the interview he gave prior to the screening.

I’ll be very interested to see how the viewers outside of Orlando view the film and what type of lasting impact that squad had on the NBA. There were quite a few ‘firsts’ that group of men in pinstripes accomplished. It does suck to always play the ‘what if’ game when it comes to that era. Especially since a championship banner hasn’t been hoisted up yet, and the Magic in the present are absent from a 4th consecutive postseason. We just need to remind ourselves of the good whenever that occurs.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

WATCH: Locker Room Interviews After Magic Lose to Pistons

2016 April 6
Fernando Medina/Getty Images

Fernando Medina/Getty Images

This late into a disappointing season, there’s not much more you can really state about losses because many start looking the same. Promising first half. Shaky start to the third period and bad finish to the quarter. Fourth period resurgence to gain a small cushion only to see it slip through your fingers by midway through the final quarter of regulation. The Orlando Magic just have not been good enough in a large amount of their games, and that’s why they’re and under-.500 bunch.

Evan Fournier:

 

Elfrid Payton:

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