Magic has a new roster, but is it any good?

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:27 PM ET

The NBA’s landscape was shaken up late last week when some major names were sent to new addresses.

Desperate to keep superstar Dwight Howard happy, the Orlando Magic beefed up its roster by adding dynamic guards Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas and by repatriating Hedo Turkoglu from the Phoenix Suns.

Losing the fading Vince Carter (to Phoenix) and the now-useless Rashard Lewis (to Washington) was no big loss for the Magic, but parting with big man Marcin Gortat could come back to bite them in the playoffs since Howard is more effective when a competent backup is available to give him a rest here and there.

Orlando certainly will be able to score, but can Arenas and Jameer Nelson coexist? Who starts between the two and can even the great Howard make up for all those awful defenders surrounding him?

It will be interesting to see if Turkoglu — hideous in Toronto, awful in Phoenix — will become a competent player again now that he is back where he previously had the bulk of his pro success.

The Suns insist Victoria’s Steve Nash is not the next player to go, but it is clear the team is no longer a contender.

So who wins? Maybe nobody.

Phoenix had to give away Richardson — its second-best player — just to get rid of the Turkoglu albatross, meaning the Raptors’ Bryan Colangelo is looking pretty good for his Turkoglu-for-Leandro Barbosa heist this summer. Phoenix didn’t totally fail here though, since Gortat is an intriguing young centre and Carter might be revitalized by the best training staff in basketball.

The Magic didn’t give up a ton, but also arguably didn’t improve enough to get by Boston or Miami in the playoffs.

The Wizards swapped the awful Arenas contract for another bad one in Lewis, who has gone from all-star calibre to terrible over the past year and a half. But they do save a bit of money since Arenas had to be paid for longer.

Bottom line is the blockbusters might not alter things too much in terms of wins and losses, but at least they gave us something to talk about.

LEBRON LIKED TRADE

Miami Heat superstar LeBron James doesn’t fault the Magic for bringing back Turkoglu after deciding he was too expensive to keep two summers ago.

“It was surprising when Turk wasn’t brought back the year after they beat us (and made it to the NBA final, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers),”James told truthaboutit.net.

“I just thought what Turk created for their team, that point-four created everything. He always created a mismatch and that was part of the reason why they beat us.”

Eager to please James just like Orlando is now with Howard, Cleveland brought in all kinds of fading stars (Shaquille O’Neal, Ben Wallace, Antawn Jamison) but the team could not get over the hump and James, of course, is now toiling for Miami.

Orlando has to hope its moves work out better.

AROUND THE RIM

While Nash appears to be happy in Phoenix still, word is the Suns, who have too many swingmen, would like to trade someone like Josh Childress or Jared Dudley ... The Magic say it will look to replace Gortat with another big man ... Golden State star sophomore Stephen Curry expects to be back in the lineup sometime this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday night against Sacramento. Curry has been out since spraining his ankle two weeks ago, the fourth time he has done that since training camp.

Curry has arguably been the NBA best second-year player despite the setbacks, averaging 20.1 points, 5.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game ... Denver’s J.R. Smith might have thrown down the dunk of the year last week, but says he will not participate in the Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend. The 25-year-old claims he is too old to compete and will leave it to the league’s “young” players to show off. According to The Score/NBA.com’s Holly MacKenzie, Lakers guard Shannon Brown will also skip the contest, but would love to take part in the three-point competition ... Denver expects Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen to return to the lineup this week ... Washington Wizards rookie sensation John Wall got some good news when he found out he doesn’t have knee tendinitis. Wall has a bone bruise under his right kneecap that has kept him out of the past three games Boston’s Paul Pierce and San Antonio’s Tony Parker are the NBA’s players of the week ... Hard to figure out the New Orleans Hornets. The team won 11-of-12 games to start the season, then lost 9-of-12, before beating Sacramento by 23 and blowing out the very good Utah Jazz.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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