The biggest takeaway from the conference, for me, is that the team highly values both players. Based on the praise Van Gundy heaped upon them, I got the impression that Harper, the 6-foot-9 combo forward; and Liggins, the 6-foot-6 swingman, will indeed make the Magic’s opening-night roster. “I’ve been around a lot of young guys coming into the league,” Van Gundy said, “and their work ethic is right there with anybody’s.”
Brian Serra has video of the presser posted here.
“I would certainly like to start. I mean every player would probably like to start. But I enjoy my role on the Magic and for me, any frustration that I’ve had in the last few years has been about not winning a championship. That’s kind of what my focus is.”
Coach Stan Van Gundy has met with individual players to discuss what they should focus on in the months ahead. Meanwhile, strength and conditioning coach Joe Rogowski also has given each player a detailed strength and conditioning regimen, just as he has done at the start of every season.
The NBA has warned officials from its teams not to talk in detail about a lockout or the labor negotiations, so Van Gundy and Rogowski were not permitted to comment for this article.
Rakovic helped Montepaschi to a Serie A championship. He averaged 8.0 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game in about 17.5 minutes per game during Euroleague last season, posting a 55.3 percent true shooting percentage and started in all 22 games he played in.
At 26, Rakovic’s time to blossom is coming. I do not know how much hope the Magic have of him being ready for the NBA or wanting to come over. But he is an asset Orlando still has available for use at some point in the future.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ashton’s son got in touch with Ryan Totka, the founder of the Stay Dwight campaign, and asked him to design a tie because his father enjoys wearing “unusual ties.” Which wouldn’t be a problem, if Jeff Ashton wasn’t about to begin his work as prosecutor in one of the more prominent trials in the area’s history, and certainly nothing that should be serving as a sort of billboard for a player who is more concerned with this lame “planking” trend and making fun of LeBron James’ receding hairline than he is thinking about where he’ll go over a year from now as a free agent.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com) and is the co-host of the ESPN1080.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. 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).