The Orlando Magic traded for Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu in a set of blockbusters with the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns. But one of the three new big-name Magic players may end up coming off the bench.
Stan Van Gundy has announced that Jameer Nelson, the lead ballhandler and starting point guard for Orlando's recent run of success, will remain the starter at the position. As Richardson is a rather true shooting guard, that leaves Arenas looking at a likely sixth man role. Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse reports that Gil is ready to embrace the role.
"We haven't discussed it (his role) yet, but I was coming off the bench in Washington (for seven of his 21 games). I can do it here," he said. "I'm here to score and make plays for others. It's easy. If you have an open shot, you take it. If not, pass it to Dwight (Howard)."
Evan Dunlap of SB Nation's Magic blog Orlando Pinstriped Post writes that Orlando's bench needs a player as aggressive as Gil.
Orlando's bench sure could use the offensive punch. Prior to this deal, J.J. Redick was the second unit's only reliable scorer. Arenas going one-on-one, with Redick, Quentin Richardson, and Ryan Anderson spreading the floor around him, could yield solid results. Further, Arenas will take minutes from the unproductive backup point guard combination of Chris Duhon and Jason Williams, which one must view as a net positive for Orlando.
If shot-creation is the Magic's biggest offensive issue--and that's a defensible position, I believe--then Arenas certainly fixes it; no one's ever accused Arenas of lacking aggression. The issue is refining his ability to get shots off, eliminating the bad ones and maximizing the good ones. The fewer off-balance 20-footers he forces up, the better.
Depending on how Turkoglu works out as the team's assumed new starting small forward, Van Gundy could shift to a smaller line-up featuring Nelson and Arenas in the backcourt and Richardson at small forward. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Turkoglu play power forward, either, given Van Gundy's proclivity for playing shooters at the position. Turkoglu isn't a great shooter, but he has the size to at least be worth a try there, if other incarnations don't click.
Regardless of how the rotation shakes out right now, the Magic will have to decide how to approach the backcourt's future. Richardson will be an unrestricted free agent as season's end (as Vince Carter would also have been), and if Orlando does not choose to retain him or find another starting two-guard in free agency, Arenas or J.J. Redick could end up in the starting five with Nelson.