For the third consecutive season the Magic won their division and racked up 50+ wins, but once again they came up short of the ultimate goal.

Following the 2010 playoffs, it looks like the Vince Carter experiment was a failure for the Magic. So what's next?

So where do they go from here?

After losing in five games to the Lakers in last year’s Finals, the Magic let Hedo Turkoglu walk in free agency. They responded by trading for Vince Carter, hoping he was the missing piece.

He wasn’t.

Carter folded in the playoffs, shooting 40 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from the arc. He also bricked a pair of crunch-time free throws in Game 2.

The Magic roster will for the most part look the same next season, with everyone that matters still under contract. Jason Williams isn’t signed for next season but is expendable and Matt Barnes will likely exercise his player option (he’s only due $1.6 million next season) and might be on his way out.

The one expendable piece may be Carter. He only has one year left on his deal in stone (2011-12 is a team option), so he would be good trade bait for a team looking to stockpile expiring contracts.

With Carters’ high price tag ($17.3 million next season) there will be limited options, but here are a few that could work:

Richard Hamilton

At 32 Hamilton is getting older and doesn’t seem to fit in the Pistons’ rebuilding plans. He has three years left on his deal at nearly $13 million per, but could be a quick answer for what the Magic are missing on the perimeter. He’s not as prolific a scorer as Carter, but he’s tougher, a better defender, and elevates his game in the playoffs. He also has leadership and championship experience – two things the Magic desperately need.

Stephen Jackson

If Jackson doesn’t fit into the Bobcats’ long-term plans, he could work in Orlando. He has three years left on his deal at about $9 million per, so the Magic would likely have to take on a bad contract from the Bobcats to make it work – think DeSagana Diop, who’s owed $13.3 million over the next two years. Jackson is tough, playoff tested, a good defender, can create his own shot, and shoot the 3. Obviously he’s a risk with his temper and strange behavior, but it could work.

Elton Brand

The Brand experiment didn’t work in Philadelphia and they may be ready to move on. He’s owed about $16 million per for the next three years, so this would be a big risk for the Magic, especially with his injury issues. They’d also have to move Rashard Lewis back to the 3. But if – and it’s a big if – Brand could return to his old form, he could finally give the Magic a second scoring threat in the post. And with a healthy Brand and Howard playing defense in the post, opponents wouldn’t be able to come anywhere near the paint.

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