With questions about Dwight Howard’s short-term future and their own short-term futures now settled, the Orlando Magic looked ahead toward the rest of their 2011-12 season today. They held a shootaround and film-review session to prepare for their game tonight against the New Jersey Nets.
Obviously, many players felt relieved that they were not traded away before Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline. They also know that with Howard still in the fold, the Magic now at least have a chance to make noise in the playoffs.
“We’re glad that it’s over,” point guard Chris Duhon said. “Now we can just focus on playing basketball and reaching our goals and continuing to play the way that we’ve been playing. We’ve been playing really well, and we’ve got to just keep continuing to build on that.”
Stan Van Gundy said he spent Thursday doing what a head coach does: prepare for the next opponent.
He was asked when he heard the definitive news that Howard had waived his early termination option.
“It was probably a little bit before the press conference,” Van Gundy said.
“So I don’t know. Maybe noontime [or] a little bit after. I don’t really remember. I was doing my New Jersey film. I don’t really remember exactly. It was a big moment for our organization, but it wasn’t like the JFK moment where everybody remembers what they were doing, you know? It wasn’t quite that big.”
Howard did not make himself available to the media after shootaround, so no new comments from him.
Howard’s decision to opt in for 2012-13 could have massive repercussions for the Nets if it means that Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams will decide to sign elsewhere in free agency this July.
Had the Nets acquired Howard in a trade before Thursday’s deadline, it almost certainly would have ensured that both Williams and Howard would have re-signed long term with the Brooklyn-bound franchise.
“I’m not going to opt-in,” he said, according to the New York Daily News. “It’s not monkey-see, monkey-do. Wherever I go is hopefully where I’m going to retire.”
After missing Orlando’s last three games with a sprained left ankle, Jason Richardson will return to the Magic starting lineup tonight.
Big Baby’s status in doubt
Glen Davis did not attend the Magic’s shootaround this morning because he was sick, Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy said he doesn’t know if Davis will play tonight.
“I expect every time Howard gets the ball or does something really great on the floor, the fans are gonna cheer extra loud [now] that he’s here for the rest of this season,” Johnson said before the Nets started their shootaround.
“I expect their team to be energized. They’re playing really good basketball. While everybody else wants to talk about the Bulls and the Heat, this is a team that very well could represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals this year with the way they’re playing.”
• Van Gundy said the Magic must improve markedly on the defensive end of the court for the team to develop into a true title contender. (More on that in a future blog post.)
• Derrick Stafford, John Goble and Matt Myers are scheduled to be the referees tonight.