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10 Orlando Magic Thinner in the wallet but still hefty in the waistline, Shawn Kemp seems ill-equipped to carry this center-starved franchise

Oct. 28, 2002
Oct. 28, 2002

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Oct. 28, 2002

NBA Preview 2002-03

10 Orlando Magic Thinner in the wallet but still hefty in the waistline, Shawn Kemp seems ill-equipped to carry this center-starved franchise

All summer, people wanted to know. Not just the media types, but
teammates and buddies. They would call him up, guys like Gary
Payton, all asking the same question with the same tone of
incredulity. Sixteen million? Are you kidding me?

This is an article from the Oct. 28, 2002 issue

And Magic power forward Shawn Kemp would offer the same cryptic
response: "You can't always believe what you read." Still, what
they'd read seemed pretty astounding. To gain unrestricted free
agency Kemp had agreed to a $30.5 million buyout from the Trail
Blazers, sacrificing some $16 million left on his deal. "Money
never was the reason I played," Kemp said after a recent
practice, sweat streaming down his magnificent shar-pei brow. "If
you're a player, you want to play--not take all that money and sit
on the bench."

Kemp will get his wish in Orlando because, in an economic twist,
the team that is paying him $1 million a year needs him far more
than the one that was paying him $20 million a year ever did. His
willing swap of money for minutes does little to diminish the
potentially inspirational, Behind the Music aspect to the saga of
Shawn Kemp, who after appearing in each All-Star Game from 1993
to '98 has fought a losing battle with his weight and last season
served a suspension for violating the league's drug policy. "It
would be a great story," says coach Doc Rivers, "but let's be
honest. I'm hoping he makes it back because it helps this team.
I'm not Mother Teresa here."

Why such anticipation for a 300-plus-pound 32-year-old who may
not be able to play effectively for more than 10 minutes a night?
Two syllables: De-Clercq. As in Andrew DeClercq, the hardworking
but overmatched power forward slotted as the team's starting
center. The rest of Orlando's big men? Steven Hunter, the
second-year 7-footer expected to be a contributor, is out until
January with a torn right knee ligament, and Pat Burke and
Olumide Oyedeji are some of the best NBDL players in the NBA. The
best interior defender last year was 37-year-old Horace Grant,
who almost retired before deciding to play this season.

Last season the Magic finished 25th in the league in boards, and
its top rebounder was forward Grant Hill, the guy with the
Microsoft ankles (you can never count on them to run properly)
who played in only 14 games. That's where the 6'10" Kemp comes
in. He's big, he's talented and, in the East, he could be a
viable center--if he can get in shape. He arrived at camp far more
husky than Orlando would have liked (the team has since hired him
a personal chef, at his request), but he has surprised the
coaching staff with his heady play and leadership. After one
early practice Kemp told the team, "I've been to the Finals, and
we need to work harder." Says Hill, "He's been outspoken, and
that's been good. He's a very smart player."

If Kemp rejuvenates his career, his gamble will seem exactly
that: smart. Should he fall off the weight wagon again, the
numbers on the scale won't be the only ones that fail to add
up. --C.B.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH TRAFFIC STOPPER Tracy McGrady will continue to draw a crowd, but the return of Hill should unclog a few more lanes.

FAST FACT
Since Grant Hill signed with Orlando, the Magic's record in the
regular season is 8-10 (.444) with him in the lineup and 79-67
(.541) without.

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Magic

"This is a feast-or-famine team. If Orlando can keep Grant Hill
healthy and Darrell Armstrong fresh, then it could really make a
move, because how many teams have the talent of Hill, Armstrong
and Tracy McGrady? But if any one of those three is unavailable,
the Magic is in trouble. The supporting cast is the team's
weakest in three years.... You have to wonder how much they can
count on Hill, a high-flying guy who has played only 18 games in
the last two seasons because of operations on his left ankle....
They want to start Jacque Vaughn at the point to take some
pressure off Armstrong, who's 34. Every year they talk about
asking less of Armstrong, but he's one of the best high-energy
guys in the league. As one of the few point guards who picks you
up full-court, he sets their tempo and never lets you get
comfortable.... I like that Doc Rivers lets his guys go out and
play. Other coaches are so controlling, but he lets them attack
and take quick shots--and Armstrong is crucial to that style....
Pat Garrity is strictly a perimeter shooter, the pop guy on the
pick-and-roll. If you're double-teaming and you have to pick your
poison, you'd rather leave Mike Miller open, because Garrity is
their purest shooter.... Orlando is not so good elsewhere. Shawn
Kemp looked overweight in the preseason, and Horace Grant was
recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Even
though Grant's a 37-year-old power forward, he'll probably wind
up starting at center. He can still rebound, block shots and
score when Armstrong penetrates and dishes.... The upside with
Hill in the lineup all year could be terrific. He and McGrady are
go-to guys who are going to get calls at the end of the game. You
need to mix your defensive looks so they can't get comfortable,
and when the clock's running down, you don't want to bail them
out with a foul."

DEFENSIVE RATINGS

Tough D
HILL
GRANT
MCGRADY

Fair D
VAUGHN

No D
GARRITY

PROJECTED LINEUP
2001-02 record: 44-38 (third in Atlantic)
Points scored: 100.5 (4th) Points allowed: 98.9 (27th)
Coach: Doc Rivers (fourth season with Magic)

STARTERS PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

PG Grant Hill 62 16.8 ppg 8.9 rpg 4.6 apg 0.57 spg 42.6 FG%
PF Pat Garrity 89 11.1 ppg 4.2 rpg 0.76 spg 42.6 FG% 42.7 3FG%
C Horace Grant 197 8.0 ppg 6.3 rpg 1.4 apg 0.75 spg 51.3 FG%
SG Tracy McGrady 3 25.6 ppg 7.9 rpg 5.3 apg 1.57 spg 45.1 FG%
PG Jacque
Vaughn[1] 167 6.6 ppg 2.0 rpg 4.3 apg 0.79 spg 47.0 FG%

BENCH PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

G-F Mike Miller 53 15.2 ppg 4.3 rpg 3.1 apg 43.8 FG% 38.3 3FG%
G Darrell
Armstrong 127 12.4 ppg 3.9 rpg 5.5 apg 1.91 spg 41.9 FG%
F Shawn Kemp[1] 146 6.1 ppg 3.8 rpg 0.7 apg 0.57 spg 43.0 FG%
F Ryan
Humphrey(R)[1]258 18.9 ppg 10.9 rpg 2.6 apg 2.81 bpg 48.9 FG%
C Andrew
DeClercq 266 2.7 ppg 2.7 rpg 0.4 apg 0.39 bpg 45.0 FG%

[1] New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)

THEY TALK ABOUT ASKING LESS OF ARMSTRONG, BUT HE'S ONE OF THE
BEST HIGH-ENERGY GUYS.