Trade the #1 Pick?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

According toThe Orlando Sentinel, it's "well-known" that if the Magic were to win the lottery and get the overall #1 pick, they would be looking to trade it for immediate veteran help. One example given of a potential trade is sending Grant Hill plus the #1 to Dallas for Antoine Walker plus filler. Such a trade would involve four mistakes for the Magic: they shouldn't lose Hill, they shouldn't lose the #1 pick, they don't need more power forwards, and they certainly don't need more filler.

Why give up Hill now? Next season he is either going to be finally ready to play or, at the worst, finished for good. If he's finished or he hurts his ankle again or anything else, the Magic will likely get the injury exception that has been eluding them for so long. And if he's even half his former self, then they have a great player on their roster to complement McGrady. Hill could play any backcourt position and even the small forward spot. Why give up the guy who could arguably be the second-best player on the team next year?

Why give up the #1 pick? "Immediate veteran help" is a contradiction in terms. Cleveland got immediate veteran help when they traded Ricky Davis et al. for veterans such as Eric Williams and Tony Battie. Veterans are no more help than rookies unless they have the talent to back it up. Is someone like Antoine Walker really going to have more of an impact than someone like Emeka Okafor? Orlando let Big Ben Wallace slip through its fingers; why would it do so again with Okafor?

Why does Orlando need yet another power forward? I've written about this before: the Magic are looking more and more like the Knicks of years past, stocking up on power forwards. They already have Drew Gooden coming off the bench. Why would you want him to be a third-stringer behind Walker and Juwan Howard? What the Magic needs is a center, not a three-point launching small forward in a power forward's body.

Why does Orlando need filler? They have plenty of young contracts and plenty of players. If they can move their own filler for veteran role players, that would be worth it.

What kind of players do they need, other than a defensive center? They need an offensive rebounding machine. They need someone to clean up the glass after Hill and McGrady miss shots. The Magic are not likely to be playing an inside-out game next season, and they shouldn't, given the backcourt talent they will be fielding. But even the best players miss nearly half their shots: if the Magic could get a defensive center who also thrives on offensive rebounds and putbacks, that would go a long way towards addressing their needs.

And the Magic would consider trading Emeka Okafor before they even got him?

Let's hope it's a bluff.

The Orlando Sentinelstaff wonders: What if the Orlando Magic had re-signed Shaquille O'Neal in 1996?The sporting life in Central Florida would be considerably different than it is now with the team struggling. The Magic would be known as the model NBA franchise -- a goal of owner Rich DeVos long ago. They would be working on at least four NBA titles, Penny Hardaway still would be a productive NBA player and a sparkling new downtown arena already would have been built. We never would have heard about Grant Hill's ankle trouble, Brian Hill would be held in high esteem as a coach and all the talk about the dominant Western Conference would be garbage.


Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: You can be sure that teams around the league will pounce quickly if the Magic land the No. 1 draft pick in the lottery later this month. It's well known they will be looking to trade it for immediate veteran help. One of the more interesting trade scenarios that already has grown legs is with Dallas. The Mavs would send a combination package involving forward Antoine Walker in exchange for that pick and taking the contract of injured Grant Hill.

Jonathan Feigen ofThe Houston Chronicle writes:For all the speculation still swirling that Tracy McGrady will be available this summer, there are more signs that he won't be.Magic general manager John Weisbrod keeps making noise about needing a commitment from McGrady that he will not opt out. But if he doesn't get it, Weisbrod isn't going to make dumping McGrady his first big move after replacing John Gabriel. McGrady cannot opt out of his contract until after the 2004-05 season, but Weisbrod has already talked with agent Arn Tellem. "I've had conversations (with Tellem), and they have been very good," Weisbrod said. "I spoke with him pretty immediately when it (the ultimatum) became a public issue. They laughed that whole thing off. They've known where we stood on the issue, and we've known where they stood. We've resolved to stay in contact. I'm confident that one way or another this thing will get resolved before the end of the offseason."

Mike Bianchi ofThe Orlando Sentinel writes: That's why we have to keep this a secret and let Bickerstaff go on thinking Hill is damaged goods.Let the Bobcats dwell on his four ankle surgeries, but we know better. We know he has great knees. This guy has the knees of a 21-year-old. He has better knees than Betty Freaking Grable. Just because Hill has played 47 games in four years, the Bobcats actually believe this makes him injury prone. We know he's just well-rested. We can't let the Bobcats know any of this.

John Denton ofUSA Todaywrites: Weisbrod wants to know by the start of training camp in October whether McGrady plans to re-sign long term with Orlando.Contractually, McGrady is under no pressure to give the Magic an answer. The Magic are fearful of losing the four-time All-Star without getting any compensation, much as they did in 1996 when franchise center Shaquille O'Neal bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent.