ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The Orlando Magic acquired troubled guard Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards and Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson from the Phoenix Suns in a major roster shakeup Saturday.
The Magic announced that they traded forward Rashard Lewis for Arenas. They sent Phoenix guards Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus and backup center Marcin Gortat. Orlando also received Earl Clark from the Suns.
The overhaul was a major move for a Magic franchise that began the season believing it had all the pieces for its first championship.
Instead, Orlando had lost five of its last six games entering Saturday to drop from first to fourth in the Eastern Conference. The slide was magnified by winning streaks of 11 and 12 by rival Miami and Boston, a ripple effect that was enough to force Orlando to overhaul the roster.
After making the NBA finals in the 2008-09 season, the Magic parted ways with Turkoglu – a fan favorite who went to Toronto – and traded with New Jersey to get Carter. The decision turned out to be a complete disaster.
Carter struggled mightily in Orlando’s disappointing exit in the East finals last season to Boston, and a rough patch early this year convinced the Magic that they might not have enough to contend after all.
The Magic had made strong pushes to acquire Denver’s Carmelo Anthony or New Orleans’ Chris Paul, but with those talks showing little progress, they were forced to seek other options.
Arenas, the centerpiece of Orlando’s shakeup, had long been speculated as that alternative.
Magic president Otis Smith has been a close friend and mentor to Arenas going back to their days together at Golden State, when Smith was in the front-office and Arenas was a young player. Smith has said in the past that Arenas’ troubles, which included a 50-game suspension last season for bringing a gun into the Wizards’ locker room and faking an injury to sit out a preseason game this year, are not a concern.
Of greater concern with the three-time All Star has been his health. Arenas has had several knee problems that limited him to 47 games over the previous three seasons. But while playing alongside – and often behind – No. 1 overall pick John Wall this season, Arenas showed flashes of his old self.
He has averaged 17.3 points and 5.6 assists per game this season, including a season-high 31 points in a loss against the Magic on Nov. 27.
AP Sports Writers Joseph White in Washington and Bob Baum in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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