The Other Night I Dreamt of Knives, Continental Drift Divide

We know now what we’ve feared all season: a contender hangs on just the slimmest of threads, and a significant injury to a key cog is the difference between greatness and plain ol’ goodness.  Bynum’s injury should make the Lakers modest, but it doesn’t even come close to the fall-out for the Orlando Magic after learning that Jameer Nelson may very well miss the rest of the season with a torn labrum.

As a completely unnoficial ambassador of the NBA, let me say that this completely sucks.

I feel sorry for Jameer, who has managed to beat his critics off with a stick during the course of this season.  He was too small, he was too turnover-prone, he couldn’t run this team, he flat-out wasn’t good enough.  But on the dawn of February 2nd, you were looking at a bonafide, deserving All-Star, who was doing so much more than just getting by on Dwight’s coattails.  Jameer’s a baller, and he’s made me and many others forcibly insert their foot into their collective mouth in ’08-’09.  It also doesn’t bode well for the Magic, who had carved out their own niche in my heart.  It’s hard not to root for Dwight Howard, and from top to bottom this roster is as likable as they come.

Immediately, you have to look at Orlando’s options.  They could start Anthony Johnson…or they couldn’t and pretend they did.  Johnson doesn’t have the chops to be a starter on an elite team, and he was already posing problems as a backup.  They could go to the D-League, but there are serious issues with starting a D-Leaguer on a team like this.  Courtney Lee or Hedo Turkoglu could control the point duties, but each presents their own complications in terms of defense, turnovers, experience, and varying levels of they’re-not-real-point-guards.  A look at the trading block shows some strange possibilities like Jamaal Tinsley or Beno Udrih, but nothing really jumps off the page.

It pains me to say this, but there’s one name that the Magic should at least consider as a band-aid for their point guard troubles: Stephon Marbury.

For the record, they shouldn’t do it.  There is no reason to panic on a level that would require them to sign Marbury.  He’s a dominant, infuriating locker room presence on a team that seems to rely on Stan Van Gundy’s voice as an unwavering authority.  SVG may not be as insidious as Riles or as intimidating as Pop, but he’s a great coach and he’s a dominant voice on that team.  That spells all kinds of trouble for a point guard that’s never exactly had a reputation for hanging tough on defense, putting the team before himself, or playing nice with the other children.  So, again, this move would be really, really stupid.

But wouldn’t the Magic have to at least entertain the idea of picking up Marbury, supposing he’s bought out?  Who knows exactly what kind of shape he’s in, but supposing that Steph is still Steph he would at least give the Magic an OK scorer, a decent shooter, and a compentent penetrator.  If the Magic attack is truly contingent on Jameer’s ability to get into the lane, then Anthony Johnson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Courtney Lee aren’t reasonable options.  Desperate times could very well call for desperate measures (not really, but it seemed like something I should say), and that could mean at least taking a casual glance in Marbury’s direction.

(Seriously though, please don’t do it, Otis.)

If the Magic can find a stop-loss through trade, that would be phenomenal.  If they could find a semi-competent replacement through trade, that would be dandy.  If Lee or Hedo could do well enough to match the 2007-2008 Magic, I’d probably take that.  But I really like this Magic team, and adore their potential for complete dominance and destruction.  All I ask is that this injury doesn’t turn Orlando’s destruction unto itself, be it by means of Marbury or crippling trade reeking of desperation.

For now, it’s the end of the Magic as we know it.  This time, though, I don’t feel fine.

Seth Carstens