Hey, GSoM community. It's Ben from Third Quarter Collapse, SB Nation's Orlando Magic site. Given that our two teams meet for the second and final time this season tonight, I thought you might want to know how Adonal Foyle, Mickael Pietrus, and Otis Smith are doing in their stints in Orlando.
Because he's more popular in the Bay, I'll start with Adonal. The big fella was one of four Magic players to appear in all 82 regular-season games for Orlando in 07/08. The Magic really needed him to play well because he was their only backup center with NBA experience. Marcin Gortat (with whom you're now familiar, I'm sure) was a rookie, and Tony Battie was out for the year with a shoulder injury. As you can probably expect, Foyle played hard every night, but not necessarily well. He was an offensive liability, but his defense was superb.
However, Adonal dropped from the rotation in last year's playoffs, when it became apparent he couldn't keep up with the Raptors' mobile bigs (Bosh, Bargnani, and Humphries). Gortat took over, played well, and relegated Adonal to the end of the bench. Foyle was unhappy about his lack of playoff playing time, and tested free-agency this summer. When he didn't get any nibbles, he re-signed with the Magic for one year. I would not be surprised if he retired when the season ends in order to focus on his nonprofit work.
This season, it's been a much different story. Adonal has only appeared in 4 games, and in only one of those games did he play more than 4 minutes. Against the Houston Rockets, when Dwight Howard got into foul trouble, Stan Van Gundy called on Adonal to defend Yao Ming. He did wonderfully, contributing 7 rebounds and 3 blocks (not to mention 4 points) in only 12 minutes. That was his first action of the season, by the way. He came right in, having not played meaningful minutes in 5 months, and guarded the NBA's tallest player better than just about anyone else. I'm sure that information does not surprise you in the slightest.
Mickael Pietrus, who signed a contract worth the full mid-level exception with the Magic, is now their starting shooting guard. He played exceptionally well in the early going, when Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jameer Nelson were still shooting in the mid-30s from the field. Peaches commits his fair share of turnovers--stepping out of bounds, charging right into people who had planted themselves 5 seconds before he arrived, throwing passes into the 6th row, blowing dunks--and is still somewhat foul-prone, but he's still an upgrade over Maurice Evans, who started for Orlando much of last year. His age is a definite plus.
After missing several games due to injury--surprise, surprise, right?--Pietrus made his return last night against the Lakers. He came off the bench for the first time this season and scored 5 points on 2-of-10 shooting. His shot selection stunk, but he played alright defense on Kobe Bryant, especially considering how long he'd been out. However, his missing time wasn't so bad. It forced the Magic to play their rookie, Courtney Lee, and their third-year enigma, J.J. Redick, at the two-guard more. As a result, the Magic now know that Lee is for real and J.J. probably isn't. Additionally, since Pietrus left the lineup, Stan Van Gundy has gone on the record several as saying Lee is the team's best perimeter defender. The Magic signed Pietrus to be that guy. He just got sonned by a rookie. By no means does that mean he's a poor defender, though.
The third guy who has a connection to the Warriors is the team's GM, Otis Smith. Otis is most (in)famous for drafting no-show Fran Vazquez with the 11th overall pick in 2005, and for rewarding one-time All-Star Rashard Lewis with a max contract worth 6 years and $118 million in 2007. He's, um, not renowned for his savvy. He's redeemed himself by signing Jameer Nelson to an extension and by drafting Lee, but there's still a general sense that he's really lucked into this roster. The GM before him, as you may recall, was John Weisbrod, a former hockey executive with no basketball experience. Nevertheless, he was at the helm when the Magic acquired most of their current rotation: drafting Dwight Howard, trading for Nelson's draft rights, signing Hedo Turkoglu, and trading for Battie. I'm not sure what Smith did in Oakland exactly, but I'm pretty sure he was involved in the Warriors' drafting Adonal and Mickael.
Even with Smith's questionable resume, I gather that you guys might rather have him in charge of the Warriors than Chris Mullin. I think Mully has actually done well, but the stuff I read in Tim Kawakami's blog about Robert Rowell's hostile takeover, and Don Nelson's feuding with Mully, really makes it seem like the Dubs' front office is in disarray. If Smith were there, uh... well, Rowell would probably still be mad with power. So nevermind.
Anyway, that's how your former players/exec are doing in Orlando. Mixed results. See y'all at the game tonight. Later.