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NBA: Thunder on same path as Magic

by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 4, 2009
Orlando went 40-42 in 2006-07 after adding first-round pick, J.J. Redick, and signing Keith Bogans in free agency but lost in the first round of the playoffs.

After parting ways with coach Brian Hill and nearly bringing in Billy Donovan, Smith hired Stan van Gundy before the start of the 2007-08 season. Orlando also completed a sign-and-trade deal with Seattle for Rashard Lewis, signing him to a controversial $118 million contract. But the Magic saw a 12-game improvement in 2007-08 and advanced to the second round before losing to Detroit.

"It’s no different than the stock market,” Smith said. "You got to project what you think these guys can become. Sometimes, we have a tendency to give up on players before they reach their potential. San Antonio and Detroit have been good at this for years. They get guys at the right time.”

In the 2008 NBA Draft, Orlando drafted Courtney Lee with the 22nd pick and later signed veteran free agent point guard Anthony Johnson. When Nelson went down with a season-ending shoulder injury on Feb. 2, Smith traded seldom-used forward Brian Cook to Houston for point guard Rafer Alston.

Four months later, Orlando has silenced its critics who said they overpaid for Lewis and could never win in the postseason by jacking up 3s.

Another four wins and the Magic will prove that sticking with the process really does work.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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