With center Dwight Howard quickly emerging as one of the NBA's biggest talents, it seemed like the Magic needed just some minor tweaking to hoist their first NBA title.
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"We won 59 games two years in a row," Magic guard J.J. Redick recalled recently. "The year before that we only won 52 games, but we won or tied the season series with every team in the NBA. So we were a team that was very competitive."
But two seasons later, the team that in the last four seasons trails only the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in regular season wins may need a miracle just to keep the guy most responsible for that run from leaving town.
Howard's preseason request to be traded not only has dominated the Magic's shortened regular season preparations, but will certainly nag them until the situation is resolved. If he stays the Magic could be a threat this season, while his departure could usher in the first of several rebuilding seasons.
Howard has said that if certain roster moves could be engineered, his preference would be to remain in Orlando. Though, he is adamant his trade request stands entering the season.
"The back and forth for me is based on the people here, the talent's that's here," he said. "I'm at peace (with the trade request), but I know a lot of other people are gonna be upset and not at peace with it. I've gotten every message you can think of, from Twitter to Facebook, to this and that and I'm this kind of guy.
"But nothing has changed me. I've been the same person from Day 1 since I've been in the NBA."
And that stated goal since the Magic selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft has been to win a championship.
Magic general manager Otis Smith has given Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, permission to explore potential trades with Dallas, New Jersey and the Los Angeles. But Smith said recently that any trade discussions involving Howard could go until the end of the season.
"Like I said before, the Orlando Magic franchise is what it's about," Smith said. "We like to make this into an individual game, but the fact of the matter is it's a team sport. And we'll continue to move forward.
"...Anytime you lose one of your best players it's a huge loss. But it's not new to anyone who's in our league or professional sports. Anytime you lose the best player on your team you have to adjust to that."
The Magic have made moderate attempts to show Howard they are trying to improve the talent around him during the brisk free agency period following the end of the lockout. They acquired some much-needed toughness and help for him in the paint by trading big man Brandon Bass in exchange for Boston's Glen Davis and guard Von Wafer.
They also re-signed starting shooting guard Jason Richardson, who has already promised to be more assertive offensively than he was last season when he came over in midseason trade from Phoenix.
Forward Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark -- who was also re-signed -- were also a part of that deal with the Suns. Turkoglu said his struggles with consistency since he left the Magic for Toronto after the 2009 Finals' run are behind him.
The Magic are hoping to see the player in Turkoglu who averaged 19.5 points per game, made a career-best 166 3-pointers and won the league's most improved player in 2008. Not the one who managed just an 11.4 points average and knocked down 127 3's last season.
"It's a new year for me" Turkoglu said. "I came in here last year trying to do things in middle of the year. Now I'm starting off the season and just trying to be focused and do the things I'm really good at and trying to be what I was a couple of years ago."
Redick is expected to maintain his role as the Magic's sixth-man this year and said that though the team is certainly trudging largely into the unknown this season, having dealt with previous roster shakeups recently should be a plus.
"It's difficult. And it can be a distraction," Redick said. "...For the guys who've been here, we've seen the trades the last couple of years. So we're used to the circus and frenzy. And obviously it's only going to be amplified more this season with what's going on with No. 12."
New Magic chief executive officer Alex Martins is confident that the Magic will remain on their feet in the end.
"This organization has proven time and time again that we're going to put a winning product on the floor," he said. "This is about the Orlando Magic. And yes, there are pieces that come and go along the way, but we've proven we're a winning organization..
"And we're going to continue to win games."