Orlando Guts Team? And For Vince Carter? O, No!

One of the most remarkable aspects of this year’s Orlando-Los Angeles NBA Finals wasn’t that it only took five games for the Lakers to dispathc the Magic, but how very close Orlando was to having their own 3-1 lead going into Game 5. Twice, Orlando had shots to win a game before it went into overtime. Twice, the shots missed, and twice, the Lakers prevailed in OT. Not bad for a team that was given utterly no shot to so much as make the Finals, much less win the whole thing.

Hedo Turkoglu
(And, ahem, here’s their real MVP of the season.)

So considering the bevy of mostly-young talent in place in Orlando, it seemed like the only thing the Magic really needed to do was get back Hedo Turkoglu (who was absolutely indispensable in the playoffs), then keep the rest of the nucleus together and let them continue to improve. Turkoglu’s an unrestricted free agent, so that means throwing money at him, but considering his performance and how well he complements the team, a good offer seems like a foregone conclusion.

Wait, what’s that? Do you hear something? Good lord… it’s the EPIC FAIL FAIRY! And she’s bringing good news!

Okay, it’s actually Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO! SPORTS, who is in no way fairylike, but this sounds like a truly horrendous trade:

The New Jersey Nets have agreed in principal to send Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Orlando Magic for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee, two league executives told Yahoo! Sports.

Sweet bearded Moses, that’s awful. Here was Orlando’s relevant lineup last year:

PG: Jameer Nelson, Alston
SG: Lee, J.J. Redick
SF: Rashard Lewis
“PF”: Turkoglu (usually the second-biggest guy on the floor, but in no way a true power forward), Battie
C: Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat

Now, if Gortat runs off to the Knicks, who are going to throw a lot more money and playing time at him than Orlando’s planning to, and if Turkoglu sees his role effectively replaced by Carter and goes elsewhere, here’s the new Magic lineup:

PG: Nelson
SG: Redick
SF: Carter (if he’s healthy and motivated, which is practically never), Lewis
PF: Unicorns, Wishes
C: Howard, Anderson

Yes, they’ll have cap room to make some replacements and there’s no law that says Carter and Lewis can’t be on the floor at the same time, of course, but that’s a vastly weaker team, and we don’t see where the big splash of a free agent signing is coming from.

Meanwhile, the Nets have a truly sick backcourt of Alston, Lee, and Devin Harris, and their plans to draft Terrence Williams with the 11th pick should bolster their scoring even further. Honestly, do you really pick Orlando over New Jersey after this deal?

Orlando, guys, you were so close to the championship… why blow up the framework of the team like this in order to make room for “Vinsanity”? It’s not 1998, you know. He’s just a chucker, just Rashard Lewis with less motivation or spring in his step. Good lord.