The Magic has made so much progress in the past two weeks that it's getting ahead of itself. One week after five-time All-Star Grant Hill announced he would sign with Orlando for a reported $675 million over six years, the maximum allowable, forward Tracy McGrady (right) declared his intention to sign a similar deal with the Magic. McGrady, 21, a Florida native, said he was happy because "not too many superstars get a chance to play at home." That statement requires a 20-second timeout. McGrady, who averaged 15.4 points for the Raptors last season, may have been one of the coveted prizes in this year's free-agent sweepstakes, but he isn't a superstar yet. It would be just as premature to consider Orlando a championship-caliber team.
Which is not to say that the smiles around the Magic offices aren't justified. With coach Doc Rivers, underrated point guard Darrell Armstrong and a hustling collection of role players, Orlando, a .500 club last year, should flirt with 50 victories. But Hill has never proved he can carry a team—he hasn't taken the Pistons past the first round of the playoffs—and his sidekick last season, All-Star Jerry Stackhouse, is arguably a better player than McGrady, who has never won a postseason game. The rest of Hill's supporting cast in Orlando isn't vastly superior to the group he had in Detroit last year, when the Pistons finished 42-40.
Only one free agent could have turned the Magic into a Finals favorite—Tim Duncan, who decided to stay in San Antonio. Without him, Hill and McGrady will soar for lots of lovely alley-oops, but they won't rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.