From the Jan. 23, 2005 Magic Newsletter:

DEAR BRIAN: I've been a Magic fan since I was 10 and the team began. Don't get to watch much of the team these days, but wanted your expert opinion on Jameer Nelson's recent scoring explosion: Is this guy legit or is he taking too many shots, not directing the offense effectively? He's established himself as a 20 point per game guy, but is it at the expense of the rest of the team? Just curious because it's hard as a fan to ignore an outburst like he's had. -- Glenn & Danielle McCarty

GLENN & DANIELLE: Jameer was a scorer in college at St. Joe's. This is his first real opportunity to run the club, and I think he now has the confidence -- and the coach has the confidence in him -- to shoot. He is eighth in the league in three-point shooting. He does, from timee to time, take some ill-advised shots and turn the ball over trying to make a high light play. But with Steve Francis' current slump, he has carried the team for stretches, especially in the fourth quarter.

DEAR BRIAN: It seems like another bad year for the Magic. I feel that Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson are becoming emerging NBA stars. Do you think we can build a successful future team around these two young players? -- Alan Maramara, Tampa, Fla.

ALAN: Yes, that is the plan, moreso around Dwight. Howard will be their first legitimate big-man threat since Shaq. Nelson has been terrific. Those were two nice selections in the 2004 draft.

DEAR BRIAN: I've been a fan of Magic since their inception. I used to go to the games on a regular basis, which I stopped doing. I just watch them on the TV now. Two questions: Why do we still have Pat Garrity? And please do not insult my intelligence. We do have bunch of players on the team that have a higher 3-point shooting percentage than him, are more athletic than him, better defenders than him and less prone to turnovers than him. Question No. 2: When we are down, why does the head coach call a timeout and gather the assistant coaches around in a circle rather than talking to players and trying to motivate them? -- Ates N. Ertan, Orlando, Fla.

ATES: I won't lie to you: Pat has struggled big time. I don't know if they are getting him in the best postion to use his skill -- the three-point shot. As for your second question, coaches around the league follow the same routine. They all talk with thheir assistants first, then address the players.

DEAR BRIAN: I've been a fan since the beginning, I was at the first playoff home game, been a season ticket holder, made countless trips over and back to watch the team. I've been very disapointed recently: Why wouldn't we consider acquiring Ron Artest or Latrell Sprewell? We can trade Francis, start Nelson at the point, Spree at the 2, Howard and Artest on the block and rotate centers. Couldn't be any worse ... what do you think? -- Daniel S. Malone, Clearwater, Fla.

DAN: The Magic were never really interested in Sprewell, because of his reputation as a bad locker room presence. Plus, he is 35 years old. As for Artest, I think the Magic -- like most teams -- are afraid of him wrecking their chemistry. They really don't have much to offer the Pacers, short of Hedo Turkoglu.

From the Jan. 16, 2005 Magic Newsletter:

DEAR BRIAN: My question is with all the recent losing and a lot of expiring contracts and likely lottery picks, tell me our two-headed idiot in charge with pull something off before the trade deadline! I actually caught myself wishing for John Weisbrod back with Otis Smith and Dave Twardzik being absolutly useless and too guttless to take a leap or a risky move. Is there anything coming to inspire hope or should I sit back wait for the lottery and watch another draft get blown? -- Kevin Andersen, Melbourne, Fla.

KEVIN: I detect some frustration with your caustic comments. First, It's Dave Twardzik, assistant GM of the Magic. The Magic, if you recall, tore up this team with the Tracy McGrady trade. You can't keep starting over every year. I think Otis Smith and Twardzik are taking a hard look to see how they can build around Dwight and Jameer Nelson. They want to see how the club plays when it is healthy, meaning with Hill and Keyon Dooling at full strength, then evaluate. Obviously, the fans' patience has worn thin. I don't see them making a major deal, though. They might move Kelvin Cato, who has little, if any, market value. And they won't have a terrible enough record to land a high lottery pick. The Magic ask for more of your patience. On the other hand, UCF's football program looks really good and might be able to tide you over.

DEAR BRIAN: I attended the 12/21 game when the Magic played the Nets. Why is it that the Game Day program had Vince Carter on the cover and the inside caption was about Keyon Dooling? Was that an NBA league error or not? -- Jocelyn Louis-Jacques, New Jersey

JOCELYN: Yeah, I agree that was a little confusing. But I think this mini-program is often designed to feature a star player from the visiting team (in this case, Vince Carter) and the story inside was on Dooling.

DEAR BRIAN: What is Steve Francis doing to improve on his game? Will he participate in this years NBA Slam Dunk Contest? -- Michael Hall, Holloman Air Force Base, NM

MICHAEL: Well, as you might have heard or read, Steve wasn't doing enough. The team suspended him for conduct detrimental. Steve probably would like to be involved in the All-Star Game because it's in Houston, where he still has a home.

From the Jan. 9, 2005 Magic Newsletter:

DEAR BRIAN: I have been watching the Magic a lot as of late and noticed they lack a rebounder and defensive presence in the middle. Tony Battie gives Orlando some type of scoring option, however, to me it seems Kelvin Cato is the perfect fit for this team to go to the next level. With this in mind, I am a bit puzzled to see him always on the bench with limited court time playing behind the foul-prone Mario Kasun. Is there a reason for Cato being in Brian Hill's doghouse? -- Peter Guthrie, Melbourne, Australia

PETE: Good observation. Cato can't even stay in the doghouse long enough. He's been hurt almost all season, mostly with a bum left shoulder. He certainly would give the Magic another shot blocker.