Andrew DeClercq, Keith Bogans, Pat Garrity, and Grant Hill have so far survived the wave of exile that has plagued their teammates. These four are the only holdovers from last year's bottom-of-the-barrel team. If only it were because they each figure prominently in the Magic's future. Alas, like Leo Tolstoy's unhappy families, they appear to each be untradeable in their own way.
DeClercq has gone from 71 games last season, with 53 starts, to being the third-string center on a team where that is still its weakest spot. He is behind both Kelvin Cato (acquired in the Tracy McGrady trade from Houston) and Tony Battie (acquired in the Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao trade from Cleveland). The 31-year-old, nine-year veteran of the league is likely only to continue his downward descent in minutes played per game. From a peak of 25.6 minutes in Cleveland during the 1998-1999 season, he has dropped as low 10.4 in Orlando three years ago but had been up to 17 in the past two seasons. Those minutes are over. DeClercq is in his final year, set to earn about $2.8 million. The instant some team shows the slightest interest in his expiring contract (probably nearer the trade deadline), expect Orlando to pull the trigger immediately, especially if a draft pick and/or cash is involved.
Bogans is also in the last year of his contract paying him only about $600,000 this year but he may be too talented for his contract, making a match harder to negotiate. He burned up every summer league he has played in and had cracked into the Magic's rotation last season, playing on average more than half the game in 73 appearances, including 36 starts. Yet in the swingman-heavy Magic roster, he is now competing for playing time with Cuttino Mobley, Steve Francis (if Jameer Nelson runs point), Grant Hill, Pat Garrity, Hedo Turkoglu, and possibly even Dwight Howard. He will be hard-pressed to play more minutes this season than last.
Pat Garrity and Grant Hill are the two injured players on the Magic squad, Hill with his infamous ankle and Garrity with his knee surgery. The two have been starting to scrimmage in Durham, N.C. so perhaps they will be ready to make an impact this season. Hill, of course, is immovable because of his contract and his annual failed comeback attempts. Garrity is too much of a question mark after surgery to risk throwing money at.
And so these four survivors (or leftovers, if you're a pessimist) enter the 2004-2005 season with brand new teammates, a lowered chance of playing time, and many potential trade rumors.
Let the good times roll.
The Contra Costa Times notes: Drew Gooden, former Orlando Magic (now Cleveland Cavaliers) player and former El Cerrito High School All-American, will be holding a camp for boys and girls ages 7-14 Aug. 9-13 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Albany High School. Campers will receive T-shirt, customized ball and picture with Gooden. Proceeds benefit Scholar Athletes, Inc. 510-223-5518, email@example.com or www.drewgooden.net.
Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel notes: [Shaquille] O'Neal, who is spending much of his summer in Central Florida, will put on the boxing gloves and climb into the ring against Antonio Tarver, the light heavyweight world champion, at Universal Studios on Aug. 6. It's the main event in a charity fund-raiser titled: Shaq's Mama Said Knock You Out. It benefits the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, which provides a scholarship fund for individuals seeking careers in nursing. Tickets for the event are $125. For more information, call 813-286-8300.
Jerry Tipton ofThe Lexington Herald-Leaderwrites: Arguably, no NBA player faces a more radically different season in 2004-05 than former Kentucky star Keith Bogans.As a rookie last season with the Orlando Magic, he was one of 11 role players complementing superstar Tracy McGrady. The Magic will take on a new look this season after trading McGrady to the Houston Rockets for guards Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley. Orlando also traded the player at Bogans' swing position, Gordan Giricek, to Utah. Plus former Louisville star Reece Gaines went to Houston in the McGrady trade. Bogans made a splash in the summer leagues last month. He averaged 12.5 points in one league. Then he made a statement in a league in Las Vegas. He made 14 of 19 shots and scored 31 points in a game against the Washington Wizards. Against the Boston Celtics' entry, he made 13 of 17 shots in scoring 38 points. "He's got a seriousness to his game," NBA spokesman Rob Reheuser said. "He's not out there messing around."
Joe Davidson ofThe Sacramento Beewrites: Now what? Do the Kings bring back Jon Barry, the guard who is puzzled the Nuggets haven't seriously pursued him? Barry, who made $3 million last season, has said he would play for the veteran minimum of $1.1 million. Also, could Toni Kukoc wind up in Sacramento? He appears to be leaning toward a return to the Milwaukee Bucks. Other free agents to ponder include Darius Miles of Portland, Matt Barnes of the Clippers and DeShawn Stevenson of the Orlando Magic. All are athletic but poor shooters.
Gene Frenette ofThe Morning Sunwrites: Former Orlando Magic general manager John Gabriel said in his last three years, he doubled the budget allocation for overseas scouting because the foreign talent has improved so much."I watched the Spanish and Italian championships and I'm amazed at the hard work and toughness the international teams displayed, which is sometimes missing in the American game," Gabriel said.
Brian Schmitz ofThe Orlando Magicwrites: Grant Hill has been working out in Durham, N.C., home of his alma mater, Duke University.Hill has said he would test his infamous left ankle playing full-court basketball. Joining Hill and some former Duke stars was Pat Garrity, who is recovering from knee surgery. . . . No word from Hill or Garrity how the workouts have been going. In their cases, no news is good news.