To have any hope of keeping McGrady, new G.M. John Weisbrod, a hockey guy who plans to hire a basketball expert to serve as his assistant, must upgrade McGrady's supporting cast enough to get Orlando to the top of the new Southeast Division next season. Considering the weakness of the opposition—the Heat, Hawks, Wizards and expansion Bobcats—that's a reasonable goal.
But more changes are needed. If coach Johnny Davis returns, he needs to hire a defensive guru who can fix a unit that was leaking a league-high 101.1 points per game at week's end. The Magic must also hope it maintains its current position in the lottery (they're second worst in the league, ahead of Chicago), which would give them a shot at big men Dwight Howard or Emeka Okafor, either of whom would bolster the Magic's pathetic inside game. Orlando will use its $5 million salary-cap exception on a free-agent point guard such as Brent Barry or Bobby Sura—a pressing need since the controversial departure of Darrell Armstrong last summer, which contributed to the club's horrendous start (1-19).
Also crucial to a revival is the health of sharp-shooting big man Pat Garrity and of chronically disabled Grant Hill. Don't laugh: Hill's decision to back off from a late-season comeback was one of his wisest moves over these last four injury-ruined years. Hill's broken left ankle is mending and will benefit greatly from six more months of rehab.
In more ways than one the key to Orlando's turnaround lies with McGrady. While many around the league believe he is already headed out the door, he's from the Orlando area and would prefer to remain there if the Magic can reverse its slide. For it to do that, it needs to keep the 24-year-old—and get him playing at the top of his game. What happened to the Jordanesque talent who could beat anyone off the dribble? In McGrady's 62-point performance last week, 14 of his 20 baskets came from the perimeter. Through Sunday he was attempting 2.2 fewer free throws per game than in 2002-03.
In his defense McGrady could point out that he's had to carry the scoring load by himself, and he has also suffered from persistent back pain. But at 24 McGrady's too young to settle for jump shots.