Changes on the horizon for the Orlando Magic?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

Heading into this NBA regular season, the Orlando Magic went through some pretty drastic changes in the offseason in order to upgrade their roster and be able to compete with the likes of the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers if they were able to get back to the NBA Finals.

Despite Eastern Conference heavyweights like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics upgrading their rosters in the offseason, the Orlando Magic felt confident that they could compete to be a title contender once again.

The one player they weren’t able to convince the come back to Orlando to try and compete for an NBA title was free agent Hedo Turkoglu.

Last season Turkoglu played a huge part in the Orlando Magic’s success in the offseason as he hit big shot after big shot and was the go-to guy in late game situations.

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Unfortunately, Turkoglu was looking to cash in on his recent success in the playoffs and wanted to make the big money from here on out. As a result, he talked back and forth with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Toronto Raptors, but ultimately went to play alongside Chris Bosh in Toronto.

Despite the Toronto Raptors seeming like they would be vastly improved with Turkoglu, the team failed to make the playoffs and now seem to be on the verge of losing Chris Bosh to free agency this summer.

Even though maybe was the right decision to enter free agency sign a big deal, Turkoglu lost a chance at competing for a title with his old team and may never get another chance like he had with the Orlando Magic.

As a result of losing Turkoglu to free agency, the Orlando Magic went out and made deal to get another game changer and proven scorer in the high flying Vince Carter from the New Jersey Nets.

Even though many people believed that he was arguably on the downside of his career in the NBA, the Magic had faith in the former All-Star and pulled off the trade which would bring him back to his home state of Florida.

Ultimately, despite the Orlando Magic being able to get all the way back to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, the addition of Vince Carter proved to be somewhat of a bust as he could not step up his game when the team needed him the most. The addition of Carter might pay off in the years to come, but in the meantime I’m sure the Magic are regretting pursuing Hedo Turkoglu during the offseason.

Now that the Orlando Magic have been knocked out of the playoffs and the Boston Celtics will advance to the NBA Finals to face the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, the question remains on whether or not Orlando should pursue some of the big name free agents this summer.

Obviously, unlike the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Orlando Magic do not have the money to throw at these big name players, but they definitely need to do something in order to be able to consistently compete with the best of the best in the league.

Personally, I won’t be surprised to see the Orlando Magic pulled off some kind of sign-and-trade deal to bring another big name player to Florida, but you never know what will happen with so many talented players on the open market.

Has Ron Artest finally earned his paycheck with the Los Angeles Lakers?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

Before this NBA regular season began a lot of the best teams around the league started wheeling and dealing in an attempt to upgrade their rosters. Amongst the best of the best teams, five stood out ahead of the rest as they added some All-Star caliber talent to their rosters.

Even though they have been considered a great team on the decline, the San Antonio Spurs tried their best this past offseason to add some key pieces to the puzzle in order to contend with the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference once again.

With the big three still intact in perennial All-Star Tim Duncan, superstar import Manu Ginobili and lightening quick point guard Tony Parker, the Spurs still had a great shot of at least going deep in the playoffs, but seeing all the other moves made by the best teams in the league forced their hands.

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As a way to counter other moves that were made, the Spurs drafted forward DeJuan Blair out of Pittsburgh and traded for Richard Jefferson and veteran Antonio McDyess. Even though these are all very talented additions to the squad, Jefferson turned out to be somewhat of a bust and McDyess was nothing more than an aging veteran. The one player that surprised the Spurs was Blair who will be a star in this league sooner rather than later.

The other moves made by some of the prominent teams in the NBA were the Cleveland Cavaliers adding Shaquille O’Neal, the Orlando Magic bringing in high flying Vince Carter, the Boston Celtics signing versatile forward Rasheed Wallace and finally the Los Angeles Lakers taking a chance on the controversial Ron Artest.

Although Shaq, Vinsanity and Wallace were welcome additions to these great teams and showed their impact throughout the season and in the playoffs, the defending champs may have topped them all by bringing Artest.

Over the last few years, the Lakers have been noticeably soft in on the defensive end of the floor and many people believe that is why they weren’t able to win an NBA title in 2008. With the addition of Artest though, the defending champs have gotten that much needed toughness on the defensive end of the floor as he took the pressure off Kobe Bryant to defend the best offensive player on the opposing team.

With not having to use all of his energy on both sides of the basketball floor, especially in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have flourished once again and will be headed to their third straight NBA Finals appearance.

Even though Ron Artest has played well at times throughout the NBA regular season, the former Defensive Player of the Year has struggled in the playoffs and a lot of people have really started to question whether or not signing in the offseason instead of Trevor Ariza was the right move.

The one thing that has continued to happen to Ron Artest during the playoffs has been the opposing team leaving him wide open to take any shot that comes his way. Even though Artest can get hot at times, he is not a dominant offensive player and any opposing team would love to see Ron Artest shoot opposed to Kobe Bryant.

Despite Artest really struggling with his shooting, especially from beyond the arc, the versatile small forward was able to officially earn his paycheck recently by hitting the game-winning shot in game five and adding a season-high 25 points (4 of 7 from deep) in clinching game of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns.

The true test for Artest will come in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics where he will probably be guarding Paul Pierce throughout the series. If Artest can contain Pierce and get some production on the offensive end of the floor, it could be argued that he was the biggest addition of any team this season.