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Finals runner-up Magic get an extreme makeover for 2009-10
Updated 10/22/2009 10:09 PM ET
ORLANDO — No conference champion has shaken up its NBA Finals starting lineup as much the next season as the Orlando Magic.

Gone is forward Hedo Turkoglu and guards Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston. Combined with the opening 10-game suspension of Rashard Lewis for an elevated testosterone level, the Magic know it will be tough to keep pace early with Eastern Conference rivals Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.

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Even if Turkoglu had not signed with the Toronto Raptors, general manager Otis Smith believed the Magic needed something more.

"Sometimes it's easiest to say, 'OK, let's keep everybody together,' " Smith said. "Or you can say, 'We fell three games short. What is our mind telling us?' "

Smith brought in five newcomers, including eight-time All-Star Vince Carter. He also gets back point guard Jameer Nelson, a starter until a shoulder injury cost him half the season and most of the playoffs.

"All those moves? Sure it's risky," ESPN analyst Jon Barry said. "I know they would've preferred to re-sign Turkoglu, but once they realized that wasn't happening they felt they needed to add another piece.

"I just don't see Carter over Turkoglu as an improvement. That's not an indictment of Carter. I just thought Turkoglu was Orlando's best playmaker in the postseason. I think it's going to be a problem for them."

But losing the Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games set Smith off on a new course.

"Vince gives us somebody who can create his own shot or create a shot for somebody else," Smith said of filling last season's void.

ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said Carter is an upgrade. Teamed with center Dwight Howard, the two could be "unstoppable on any given night" in the halfcourt.

To land the high-scoring Carter (20.8-point average last season, his lowest since 2004-05) from the New Jersey Nets, Smith traded Lee, a valuable rookie. "That one hurt everybody here," Smith said. "But you still have to keep moving forward."

Smith also got second-year forward Ryan Anderson in the deal; signed free agent forwards Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes and point guard Jason Williams and matched the Dallas Mavericks' offer sheet to re-sign reserve center Marcin Gortat.

But Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy realize the team faces a rough start.

"They'll miss Lewis," Barry said, "then it's going to take seven to 10 games to adjust once he's back. By then they could be 10 games behind both Cleveland and Boston."

Howard hopes that "by January we'll be up and running. I expect us to finish strong."

Bass provides great energy and can run the floor. Anderson is a 6-10 shooter who can keep opponents from collapsing on Howard. Those two are jockeying to start in place of Lewis. Barnes is another high-energy shooter.

"All those guys can spread the floor and knock down the jumper," Smith said. "That's what you have to do with Dwight."

This roster at least gives Van Gundy plenty of options.

"It's going to be hard for us early on to get any kind rhythm, where we play the game really well for long periods of time," he said. "But right now it's more important to look at a lot of different lineups and hope our execution improves as we go."

Around the hardwood:

The regular referees could be working by the league's Tuesday tipoff, NBA Commissioner David Stern told news reporters Thursday. The referees will vote on a new deal today. "It's our hope they approve it," he said, "but there are no guarantees." … Stern said season ticket renewals will likely be at 76%, down from 79%, and overall league revenues down between 2.5 to 5%. … At Thursday's NBA Board of Governors meeting, Stern said they met with prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire who introduced himself as "Mike." The application, still under review, must be approved by 75% of the owners. "He came off as a very intelligent businessman with a good sense of humor," Stern said.

Posted 10/22/2009 10:03 PM ET
Updated 10/22/2009 10:09 PM ET
Vince Carter, left, is the biggest addition to the Magic for the 2009-10 season. Orlando, led by Dwight Howard, right, has underwent several changes following a 2008 campaign that ended with a 4-1 loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
By John Raoux, AP
Vince Carter, left, is the biggest addition to the Magic for the 2009-10 season. Orlando, led by Dwight Howard, right, has underwent several changes following a 2008 campaign that ended with a 4-1 loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

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