The Orlando Magic are a very interesting franchise. They're located in sunny Orlando, Florida, a city that at first glance would appear to be a haven for potential NBA free-agents. And yet they have a miserable history of not only attracting players, but keeping the few players they manage to bring in. The Orlando Magic have the bizarre distinction of being a prime destination that no one ever goes to. It's almost inexplicable.
For instance, last night, Dwight Howard scored 14 points and became the Orlando Magic's all-time leading scorer, passing Nick Anderson, who held the previous mark with 10,650 points. Considering that the Magic have been around for nearly 23 seasons, it's hard to accept that Nick Anderson -- who was just a role player on the great Magic teams in the 90's that had Penny and Shaq -- had held this mark for this long.
But it really was a record of attrition. Anderson held it because he is not only the only Magic player to spend ten consecutive years with the franchise, he is the only player period to last ten years with the franchise. It isn't just that Orlando has been unable to attract many big-name players (Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and Rashard Lewis barely qualify as exceptions). It's that they've been categorically incapable of re-signing the good players they manage to get. They lost Shaq after four years, they traded Penny, they traded McGrady, they lost Hill, they dealt Steve Francis, and it's pretty damn clear that they're about to lose Howard too.
Their lack of success in retaining players is staggering. Assuming they lose Howard, not only will they have lost every single superstar they ever had no longer than seven years into their contract, they've never re-signed anyone of importance. I had to scour Basketball Reference's archives just to be sure, but here's two pieces of information that personify their ineptitude: they have never had a single player who played with them for more than seven years who made $10 million in a season with them; and Dwight Howard is the only player in franchise history to sign an extension that gave him a $10 million salary. And, again, they're about to lose him.
So what exactly is going on here? It's one thing for a cold Midwestern team to struggle to attract players and eventually lose the good ones they have. But this is Orlando, a city with a fantastic climate, an array of amusement parks and tourist attractions, and, let's not forget, it's in a state where you don't have to pay an income tax, which is an enormous plus if you happen to be a multimillionaire basketball player. And yet no wants to be there for very long. Weird.