Daniel Orton to Miss Preseason With Ailing Knee
Orton, taken with the 29th pick by the Orlando Magic, already was considered a long-term, project-type center after averaging just 13 minutes a game in his only season at Kentucky.
Now the wait becomes a little longer.
Orton said Thursday after watching his teammates practice that he has been put on a four-week, left knee strengthening program before he can begin scrimmaging with his teammates.
"To be new here, in a new atmosphere, I wanted to get out there and show my teammates that I could play. And I haven't been able to do that,'' he said Thursday. "It's frustrating, annoying, aggravating to not be out there. I need the work.''
Orton, 20, is rehabbing a knee that was completely reconstructed two years ago but never properly strengthened before he played a limited role at Kentucky, where he showed just a hint of his vast potential.
Orton is a 6-10, 255-pound center with good hands, good physical strength and enough length to complement his natural shot-blocking ability.
He missed almost all of his senior high school season after the surgery, then joined the Wildcats, where he averaged just 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds but 1.4 blocks in 13 minutes as a reserve center.
"He probably should not have played (at Kentucky), and should have spent the time rehabbing,'' said Magic general manager Otis Smith, who decided to draft him. "And had we known the depth of his problem, he probably shouldn't have played this summer.''
Orton was the focal point of the Magic's Summer League team and played throughout the week, but he struggled badly and didn't move well. When soreness persisted in his left knee during workouts, tests revealed that the muscles around his left knee were much weaker than they should have been.
"I have a good future in this league, but I never did the right amount of, or the correct, rehab, after my surgery,'' he said. "I knew I wasn't getting any lift in my knees, but I never quite understood why. All I need now is to strengthen this, and I'll be back on the court.''
This isn't the first time the Magic took a big man in the first round and played without him. In 2005, they made center/forward Fran Vazquez of Spain the No. 11 pick of the draft, only to discover that he wanted to stay in Spain to play.
Orton, conversely, is expecting a lengthy career in the NBA, but not until his knee strength improves. The questions about his knee prompted the Magic earlier this month to sign veteran journeyman Malik Allen as the No. 3 center behind Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat.
"He'll recover just fine. This is not a long-term thing,'' Smith said. "We knew there were issues with his knee that had to be worked out. If we had needed him to play immediately, we would have looked at it (the pick) differently. But with two young centers in front of him, and one of them the best in the league, it was going to be tough for him to play anyway.''