Two Reasons LeBron James Signing with the Heat Helps the Orlando Magic

Wil BradleyCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2010

BOSTON - MAY 24:  (L-R) Vince Carter #15 and Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic  react to a play against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 24, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

With LeBron James reportedly headed to the Miami Heat, prospects for the Orlando Magic’s run for a title look bleak.

James and the other two pieces of the Super Trio, makes winning a title more difficult for all the teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. For the Magic and other members of the Southeast Division, things look even more daunting.


Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington and Orlando will all have to contend with the new three headed monster from South Beach, just a little more often than the rest of the league.

Even then, all but maybe one or two teams in the NBA right now can feel confident in their future prospects against Riley’s new force of basketball.

If LeBron does end up in Miami, the Magic stand the best chance of rebounding and finding a way to beat the Heat.

How so? For the same reason Otis Smith and the Orlando front office have had difficulty finding players via free agency—they must rely on sign-and-trade deals.


You’re still not seeing the how Orlando could possibly be in a good position with LeBron in Miami?


During the free agency period, Smith quietly stacked up a few bench players. All in all, his team remains intact from last season, a season in which they were title contenders.


Now put yourself in the shoes of Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony. Presently, neither play on a team that looks capable of winning a championship.

For those two players, all roads go through Los Angeles and Kobe Bryant to the NBA Finals. Then that guy in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant, just committed to being around for another few years.

Realistically, both players will never even get to the Finals, let alone win it all. Finding a new home on a contending team may be the only option for both super stars.

Enter the Orlando Magic. With Dwight Howard as a base, the Magic provide one of the few landing places for a big name star hunting for an NBA title ring.


Orlando knew coming into the off-season, that sign-and-trade would be their life line to improving the team, and are prepared.

Both Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul will command max salaries. Making a trade for high salaried players can be difficult. Either a team gives up more than they really want, or teams find a third party participant to help make the deal work.

The Magic have the contract numbers needed to trade for a big name star, and keep their current roster protected from a “Trade of Mass Destruction’.


In addition to having the salaries to match super star contracts, the Magic can offer attractive assets to a team forced to rebuild.

Martin Gortat went into the summer knowing Orlando’s front office felt he held the most value in potential trades, and would impact the team least by leaving. You can’t teach being seven feet.

In addition, the Orlando bench includes Mickael Pietrus and Brandon Bass. Both players saw little time on the floor last season, but have a proven history as solid players.


For the New Orleans Hornets, the Paul situation continues to deteriorate. Paul has to be watching the Miami super team being constructed, and wondering if he will ever have an opportunity to win an NBA Final.


Paul is a big enough super star that he could dictate a trade. Up to now, Paul has chosen to protect his image, and his sincere affection for the people of New Orleans by not demanding a public trade.


But as next season begins to develop, and the Hornets live up to expectations not to contend, Paul will surely start flexing his muscles.

If he does want a trade, there will be only a few teams that could provide him an opportunity to contend right away. Orlando would be one of those teams.

Vince Carter’s behemoth contract, and its upcoming expiration, make a Carter for Paul trade attractive for Hornets ownership.

The Magic would need to give up very little, and would get back much more than they would invest. This trade would be akin to Pau Gasol going to the Lakers a few years back. Only the GM in New Orleans isn’t a former Magic employee.

The same situation holds true for Carmelo and the Nuggets. Carter’s expiring contract holds less weight for Denver. But the Nuggets could take on Carter knowing they would have plenty of cap space to rebuild at season’s end.

A deal for Anthony might mean parting with Jameer Nelson. With Chauncey Billups getting older, it may take a little more coaxing to get the Nuggets to buy into the trade.

In either situation, the Magic have more to give in terms of value, than arguably any other team.

If Paul or Anthony could find their way to the Magic, the addition of another super team would make the NBA even more exciting than presently projected.