Battle of Egos Leads to Invasion of the Roster Snatchers

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The origin of the term "no love lost" suggests two people that have lots of love, just not for each other. Both Tracy McGrady and John Weisbrod seem to love the Rockets, they just happen to dislike each other. That dislike has led to an invasion of the roster snatchers as the three former Rockets are likely to all start. If the two prize rookies also start, that means the Magic will field a brand new starting lineup come October.

Weisbrod had some choice words to say about McGrady, essentially calling him not-a-team-player, questioning his work ethic, and disparaging his leadership. He said things that a GM ought never say, and he was seemingly joined in his evaluation by Stevie "Yet Another" Franchise, who noted that the team seemed to give up after losing a bunch of games, probably at least partly a reference to McGrady's decision to sit out the last several games of the season with back spasms. In fact, it appears that it was a rankled and frustrated Weisbrod who put McGrady on the injured list.

Weisbrod loses a lot of character in my book. Disparaging a player you just traded reflects poorly on you, not the player. Of the two, you would expect the GM to be the more restrained, more diplomatic. The player can say whatever he wants, he's young, he's emotional. But in this case it's the opposite. McGrady tempers his words and speaks what rings of truth when he says it's silly to say he wasn't in the gym, that it's impossible to do the things he does on the court without practicing hard. It's not natural. But Weisbrod just throws cliches willy-nilly. "Not a team player." A little late for pointing fingers, and it looks a little whiny.

In the meantime, the remaining Magic bench-warmers may have some more chairs to warm for a long time coming. If rookies Jameer Nelson at the one-spot and Dwight Howard at the four crack the starting lineup, and the three new Rockets taking up the remaining spots with Francis at the off-guard, Cuttino Mobley at the two, and Kelvin Cato at the five, that would mean the Orlando Magic starting lineup fields five players not on the roster last year.

It also means Drew Gooden is coming off the bench again. That's no good for Gooden.

Probably Gooden will start ahead of Howard, or at least that is what would make the most amount of sense from a basketball perspective. Who knows what the marketing perspective might insist on.

And who knows what this vindictive and vitriolic new GM might still do in the free-agency market starting today. He is looking to pursue Golden State's Adonal Foyle, and though he has promised the three former Rockets that he would keep them together, we have yet to learn how much his word is worth. We have already learned he won't, or can't, hold his tongue.

The Magic will play host in the second annual Orlando Pepsi Pro Summer League July 6-10 at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Florida. Their first game will be on Tuesday, July 6th versus the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:00 p.m. EDT. The remainder of their schedule is as follows: 

*Tuesday, July 6th - Cleveland - 7:00 p.m. EDT
*Wednesday, July 7th - Boston - 5:00 p.m. EDT
*Thursday, July 8th - Washington - 5:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 9th - Miami - 5:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 10th - New Jersey - 2:00 p.m. EDT

Read comments by the newest Magic men here.

Read comments by GM John Weisbrod here.

Nearly three-quarters of almost 20,000 respondents feel that the Magic will be a better team next year because of the blockbuster trade. You can vote too at nba.com/magic.


John Denton ofFlorida Todaywrites: On one hand, Weisbrod referred to McGrady as "the most physically talented player in the league." But then, when asked if it would be fair to say that McGrady is not his type of player, Weisbrod responded with a blunt, "Yes." Weisbrod also implied that McGrady's work ethic was questionable, saying that if he were to "rip the doors off the gym, get in and compete, be a part of the organization, become a better player and make others around him better," he might still be a member of the Magic. McGrady admitted a day earlier that the personal attacks emanating from Magic management "crushed me." Weisbrod then went on to say that the Magic were never dead set on feeling as if they had to resign the player who led the NBA in scoring each of the past two seasons. He went as far as saying that even if McGrady's contract had not been an issue -- he can be a free agent following next season -- that there was no certainty that McGrady would have been retained. "It was just one of a number of options," Weisbrod said of keeping McGrady. "We feel like we're a significantly better team today than we were yesterday."

John Denton ofFlorida Todaywrites: Among the swingmen the Magic expect to target are Stephen Jackson, Marquis Daniels, Bruce Bowen, Eric Williams and Courtney Alexander.Daniels is an Orlando native and blossomed into a star last season in Dallas despite going undrafted in 2003. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is expected to match any reasonable offer, but Daniels possibly could be had with a $5.5 million, multi-year offer.

Brian Schmitz ofThe Orlando Sentinelwrites: By the time Magic General Manager John Weisbrod is through taking a jackhammer to the franchise, it will be unrecognizable. Except to Rockets fans. Barring any further trades, Francis, Mobley and Cato all are expected to be in the Magic's starting lineup, essentially replacing Tracy McGrady, Tyronn Lue and Juwan Howard.

Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinelwrites: The Orlando Magic have put Golden State Warriors center Adonal Foyle at the top of their free-agent wish list, believing he might be their best combination of affordability and fit.Foyle, 29, is a shot-blocking/rebounding/defensive center who has spent his seven NBA seasons at Golden State, mostly backing up Erick Dampier, also a free agent as of today. Foyle, 6 feet 10 and 270 pounds, is no offensive threat, but he could become a defensive force in the Eastern Conference. He would fit well with the hard-working, team concept that Weisbrod is trying to create as he reconstructs the team without Tracy McGrady.

Brian Schmitz ofThe Orlando Sentinelwrites: The only thing more blunt than the question was Orlando Magic General Manager John Weisbrod's answer. And it went a long way to explaining why Tracy McGrady was in Houston on Wednesday as a former employee of the club. "Would it be fair to say that Tracy is not your type of player?" "Yes," Weisbrod said.A day after McGrady said the Magic wanted him out and didn't try to persuade him to stay, Weisbrod lashed back at the superstar he traded to the Rockets on Tuesday in a multiplayer deal.