Insider: The Orlando Magic: What We Know

The Orlando Magic are entering the most crucial offseason in the history of their franchise. There are questions surrounding the futures of Center Dwight Howard, Head Coach Stan Van Gundy, General Manager Otis Smith and several other key players, including Power Forward Ryan Anderson and Point Guard Jameer Nelson.

Obviously, the Magic don’t have the answers to several of their biggest questions, but there are some things we do know. We know that Howard, Glen Davis, Chris Duhon, Justin Harper, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu are all under contract for at least one more season.

We also know that…

  • Ryan Anderson is a restricted free agent.
  • Earl Clark and Jameer Nelson have player options.
  • The team can terminate the final year of J.J. Redick’s contract.
  • Daniel Orton and Ish Smith are unrestricted free agents.
  • DeAndre Liggins has a qualifying offer of $937,195.
  • Von Wafer’s salary is fully unguaranteed over the next two seasons.

Patrick Ewing

Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing will be interviewing with the Charlotte Bobcats for their head coaching position. Ewing and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan are close friends and Ewing was close to getting the job after Larry Brown was fired before the Bobcats eventually settled on Paul Silas. The Bobcats have already interviewed Golden State assistant Michael Malone, who should emerge as a candidate for the job in Orlando if Stan Van Gundy is indeed fired.

Dwight Howard

We don’t know much, factually, about Howard, but we do know one thing – he is under contract for one more season after he waived his Early Termination Option at the trade deadline.

Howard apparently does not want to play for Stan Van Gundy. Although Howard has continued to deny these rumors, Van Gundy admitted he was told Howard asked the Magic to fire him. Per Dave Baumann of Brighthouse Sports, Howard would like Warriors assistant Michael Malone or Pacers assistant Brian Shaw to replace Van Gundy.

There have also been several rumors Howard has asked the Magic to acquire certain players. Glen Davis, Howard’s friend, may be one of those players and the Magic traded for him just before the season. Monta Ellis, Anthony Morrow, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are the other names we’ve heard connected to Howard. The Magic still don’t appear to have the assets or money to acquire these players.

Most believe New Jersey, now Brooklyn, is still the place Howard wants to be. It’s no coincidence both Morrow and Williams were members of the Nets this season. Williams has a player option and will likely become a free agent. Morrow is under contract for one more year. ¬†Several close to the situation believe Howard will again ask for a trade to the Nets and those that I’ve talked to close to the situation believe he ultimately winds up in Brooklyn.

Jameer Nelson

Nelson has a player option worth between $7.8 and $8.6 million. A few weeks back, I reported Nelson is likely going to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. On Thursday, specific language in Nelson’s contract came out, correcting an original report Nelson had three days to make his decision. He actually has three days from the last Magic game or until June 15, whichever comes later, to make his decision. That means Nelson actually has over a month to make up his mind.

ESPN Florida still believes Nelson will indeed opt out of contract, partially to secure a longer deal and partially because he wants to pick his a spot. An expiring contract worth about $8 million could be very valuable to teams trying to clear up cap room for the summer of 2012 when Monta Ellis, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Josh Smith could all be free agents.

(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and on ESPNFlorida.com. You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)

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