02 June 2007

And So It Begins: Donovan's Introduction

Photo by Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

Billy Donovan was introduced as the Magic's head coach at a news conference yesterday morning. I wanted to keep a real-time diary, but I knew Black and Blue was going to do his, and I didn't want to be redundant. Instead, I'll offer commentary on key quotes.

Of all the statements Donovan made, this one was the most important:
And to me, it is not about me, it is about all of us together as a team, one, trying to accomplish a goal. It was the same thing at Florida -- we were trying to accomplish a national championship, and it wasn't me, it was the administration, it was the assistant coaches, it was all the work the players put in, it was everybody was moving in the same direction.
That phrase proves, at least to me, that Billy Donovan gets It. He knows that his arrival is one of the biggest events in Magic history, but he also doesn't think of himself as a singular savior. He checked his ego at the door, in other words, and that's fantastic.

Slightly worrisome: he said that he's not really going to change his style of play.
Certainly it's going to be an adjustment, but I have got to coach to my personality and how I feel comfortable.
Fair enough, but I hope he isn't stubborn about sticking to his style if it becomes apparent that it isn't working. Say the Magic open the season 5-14 and are quickly in the cellar of the Eastern Conference. At that point, the Magic would have to do more than merely adjust. And what happens if Billy doesn't have a Plan B?

Uh oh.

On a more positive note, Donovan, like everyone else in the basketball universe, knows what the Magic need the most:
In looking at the team, certainly I think one of the needs I talked with Bob [Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide] and Otis [Magic GM Otis Smith] about is the need for a wing scorer, a perimeter scorer. I think that certainly is something that's a very, very high priority.
This is where the free agency rumors are really going to begin swirling. Of the five prized free agents this summer -- Chauncey Billups, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Gerald Wallace, and Mo Williams -- Carter, Lewis, and Wallace fit the profile. Each has his own pros and cons, but certainly those three players are now officially on the Magic's radar.

Finally, it's worth noting that Donovan dropped a few players' names when talking about the future, which seems to indicate that their jobs are safe. Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza were two of those players, which I thought was obvious. He also mentioned Darko Milicic, which makes it appear as though he'll be retained this offseason. Oddly, he mentioned Jameer Nelson. While Jameer shouldn't be written off after one bad season, he also shouldn't be considered "untouchable." He's just not in the same class as Dwight, Darko, or Trevor, and should be made available for the right price.

In all, it's been a tremendously busy week for a franchise looking to become respectable once again. Donovan's enthusiasm and familiarity with players on the team should excite even the most cynical of Magic fans. For the first time in a long time, there is a buzz surrounding this organization and this city. The future is bright.

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