Just What We Need, Another Power Forward

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Why couldn't the best players in the upcoming draft be monstrous centers or lightning quick point guards? Why do the two top picks of Emeka Okafor and Dwight Howard both have to be power forwards?

Sure, you could put either of them in the center position, but that's true about almost any power forward. Even Antoine Walker played center for the Mavericks. But they are not seven foot behemoths: they are hard-working undersized big men more in the mold of Ben Wallace than Yao Ming or Shaq.

The Magic roster already includes Juwan Howard and Drew Gooden. How many power forwards can one team handle?

The answer is lots. Just look at the New York Knicks of the past several years before Isiah Thomas came in and cleaned house. They had as many as eight power forwards on their roster.

The attraction is not difficult to understand: you can't teach size. And you can make the case that you'd rather have a bigger guy defending a smaller guy than the other way around, all else equal.

But all else is not equal. Ideally you want talented guys playing together as a team, not just big behemoths running around setting picks for nobody.

Is it a curse to be stuck with Dwigth or Emeka, guys that any other team in the league would pay dear money for?

No, but it is a bit of a headache. It does mean that either Juwan or Drew have probably got to go. The problem, the Magic will find, is that you can't corner the market on big men. Their values do not soar just because you have a lot of them. If you don't take an immediate hit, you will end up doing a firesale later, after many seasons of mediocrity at best.

Let's hope the Magic don't become what the Knicks used to be.

Just because the season is over doesn't mean the players are unreachable. If you want to ask any Magic player a question, you canemailthe Magic. Be sure to include the name of the player you want the ask your question of.

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Mike Bianchi ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: Doc Rivers called to complain. This was a first. Doc never calls to complain. Doc never criticizes the media. Doc is our friend. Doc is our pal. We love Doc. "Only the second time in more than 20 years in the business that I've ever called a writer to complain," Doc said on my voicemail... I've tried to explain this to both Doc and Gabe: It's not personal; this is just what I do. As somebody wise once said: "The role of a sports columnist is to watch the battle from the mountaintop and then ride down and bayonet the wounded."Unfortunately, the wounded in this case are Doc and Gabe, two very good guys who somehow put together one very bad team.

Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: It wasn't just on the court where the Orlando Magic received a beating last season. They took a significant financial hit, also.Ticket revenues dropped $3.6 million from the previous season, making a painful situation even worse when the final numbers were tallied. According to records released this week by the city of Orlando, which operates the TD Waterhouse Centre, Magic gross ticket sales were $28.2 million last season. During the 2002-2003 season, ticket sales totaled $31.8 million. The city receives 1 percent of those ticket sales, in addition to $15,000 each night in rent from the Magic, under their current lease. One reason for the drop was the lack of a playoff appearance, which traditionally is where NBA teams make their money. Players are paid only for the regular season, which makes the extra playoff games so valuable to team owners.

Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: The Orlando Magic let Amare Stoudemire of Cypress Creek High School leave town two years ago because they traded away the draft pick that Phoenix used to select him. They let Marquis Daniels of Edgewater High School escape last year because they underestimated his talent, letting Dallas sign him after no one bothered drafting him. This time they should make sure Darius Washington doesn't get away. Keep the hometown players here.Stoudemire and Daniels have become players the Magic wish they had today, adding fuel to Washington's cause. Coming directly from high school -- he has transferred to IMG Academies in Bradenton -- Washington really isn't ready for the NBA, but there is a confidence about him that the Magic could use. Obviously, he isn't worth the lottery pick the Magic will have, but he certainly is worth a second-round flyer, giving him time to develop. Leading Edgewater High to a state championship is a long, long way from the NBA, but it's a jump he is seriously considering. The Magic should consider him seriously.

Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: Former Magic assistant coach Paul Pressey last week didn't sound like someone who just lost his job, which is why he will have no problem finding another one. Pressey, who spent 11 years as a player in the NBA, joined the Magic in 2000 as an assistant for Doc Rivers. His contract was not renewed for next season under Coach Johnny Davis... There is a chance that Rivers will hire him again in Boston, where he just landed with the Celtics, but Pressey also will have other options.As an NBA player and an assistant here, he earned a reputation as both a leader and a teacher, one of the top young coaches in the league. He isn't far from becoming a head coach in the NBA.

Scott Brown ofFlorida Todaywrites: [Ousmane] Cisse is currently coming off the bench for the USBL's Brevard Blue Ducks and doing everything he can to avoid becoming a cautionary tale. That may explain why Blue Ducks coach Robert Reid has to remind his high-energy power forward that he doesn't have to try and block every shot. And why Cisse consistently stays after practice to work on his mid-range jumper. Despite a bad knee and a game that needed some polish, Cisse bypassed college for the 2001 NBA Draft.The four other players who joined him on everyone's prep All-American team that year all got selected in the top 10 of the first round and became instant millionaires. Cisse didn't get picked until the second round and didn't make it out of training camp with the team (Denver Nuggets) that drafted him. He has since bounced around basketball's minor leagues, is in his second stint with the Blue Ducks and should serve as a reminder to the five high school players who have already declared they will enter June's draft that there are no guarantees. Asked if he should have gone to college for some seasoning before turning pro, Cisse maintains the eye contact he establishes when he is spoken to or speaks. "Probably," he says.

Robert MacLeod ofThe Canada Globe and Mail writes:Sources with the club threw cold water yesterday on a published report that former NBA great Julius Erving was interested in the job. Erving, who was the executive vice-president of the Orlando Magic for six years before resigning last June, is reportedly interested in the job, but the interest is apparently one-sided."He's lobbying like crazy," one Toronto insider said, adding the Raptors have not had official contact with Erving, nor do they expect to.

Marcus Henry ofNew York Newsdaywrites: If there was one player at Sebastian Telfair's coming-out party who could relate, it's former St. John's standout guard Omar Cook. Cook, against the advice of then-coach Mike Jarvis, left school for the NBA after his freshman season. But unlike Telfair, Cook - who was selected by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the 2001 draft - didn't have the security of a guaranteed multimillion-dollar endorsement deal with a major shoe company.Because second-round draft choices aren't given guaranteed contracts, Cook ended up being the odd man out and was cut by the Magic before the start of the 2001-2002 season. Since that day, Cook has bounced back and forth between the NBA and the NBDL.

Shannon Shelton ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: In the 1970s, there was the Afro. The '80s saw the emergence of no hair as a 'do of choice. During the early 90s, high-maintenance 'dos such as high-top fades sprouted on many heads. Mullets also pop up off and on throughout the years. The rules aren't so rigid these days... Williams cut the hair of many professional athletes, including Orlando Magic forward Grant Hill, former Magic center Sean Rooks and former Magic forward Dennis Scott.He said that because professional athletes are on the road so often, they have taken advantage of the new freedom to let their hair go a few weeks -- or maybe months -- without worrying about styling. But Williams doesn't think athletes will ever totally forgo the barber's chair. Even guys who have braids will come in to have the edges of their hair trimmed, along with beards and even eyebrows, he said.