It wasn’t his fault his team shot 40.9 percent for the series, 5.2 percent worse than its season average. Just like it wasn’t his fault the Magic made only 26.2 percent of their 3-pointers after making 36.6 percent during the first 82 games.
Van Gundy couldn’t do anything about the fact that Jason Richardson (17 of 51), Hedo Turkoglu (20 of 68), Ryan Anderson (8 of 30), J.J. Redick (15 of 42, 1 of 15 on 3′s) and Jameer Nelson (31 of 81) all went ice cold at the same time.
He also couldn’t do anything about the fact that Jamal Crawford, a career 35 percent 3-point shooter, hit 46 percent of his 3′s in the series.
Arenas, who has barely spoken to the media recently, wasn’t shy about wanting to play more after the benching.
“In Game 4 and Game 5, he realized that I’m useful so he used me,” Arenas said. “Before the playoffs, I was just sitting in corners. I wasn’t a part of the offense. The offensive is built for Dwight [Howard] and shooters, and I’m more of a creator myself.”
Howard was in no mood to discuss his future plans when he met with the press early Friday afternoon, about 15 hours after the Magic were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks.
When asked about the contract extension Smith referred to, Howard responded, “I haven’t seen a contract.”
When a reporter followed up, Howard said, “I haven’t seen it.”
The Magic know they must pair Howard with another star to seriously contend.
Here’s the latest plan: They will try to lure Chris Paul or Deron Williams from their respective teams at some point, obviously with Dwight’s help, if he wants to be a recruiter.
The Magic can’t do much this summer beyond a tweak here or there, given their dwindling assets.
Add size: The Magic desperately need one or two more big men. Help may arrive in the form of 2005 first-round pick Fran Vázquez. Magic officials believe the 6-foot-10 Vázquez wants to make the move to the U.S. Still, the uncertain labor situation might prompt Vázquez to re-sign with FC Barcelona.
Still, Richardson said he’s eager to somehow return to Orlando next season.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot and I didn’t want it to end. I’d love to come back to this franchise and have a full preseason and start the season off here,’’ he said. “We built some great chemistry here. But it would be great to be back with this team and start from the beginning.’’
Memphis assistant Dave Joerger, Orlando’s Steve Clifford, Portland’s Bill Bayno and Chicago’s Ron Adams are all regarded as top defensive coaches. Another possibility for the Knicks is Thibodeau’s replacement in Boston, Lawrence Frank, the former Nets’ coach. Frank’s contract expires this summer
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).