Magic Add Backcourt Depth, Sign Luke Ridnour
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By John Denton
July 25, 2014
ORLANDO -- Not long after the Orlando Magic added three rookies to the roster via the NBA Draft, they addressed the need for experience with the acquisition of veterans Channing Frye, Ben Gordon and Willie Green.
Noticing the trend, an intrepid member of the Central Florida media pointed out to Magic GM Rob Hennigan the pattern of following up the youthful acquisitions with the supplementing of other veteran players.
Hennigan did not miss a beat in responding with some humorous astonishment.
``I think you might be onto something,’’ Hennigan said with a smile and a hearty laugh.
Hennigan and the Magic added yet another veteran piece to the puzzle on Friday when they finalized the signing of point guard Luke Ridnour. The 11-year NBA vet gives the Magic some valuable experience at the point guard position to mentor talented youngsters Victor Oladipo and rookie Elfrid Payton.
Ridnour, 33, proved last season that he can still bring plenty to a team as a playmaker when he averaged 5 points, 2.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds while splitting time with Milwaukee and Charlotte. Last season, he scored double digits in 10 games, had at least four assists in 17 games and drilled multiple 3-pointers 10 times.
"They have a lot of pieces here, a lot of exciting young talent," Ridnour said. "Whatever role they want for me, I am here to help."
In his career with Seattle, Milwaukee (twice), Minnesota and Charlotte, the 6-foot-2 Ridnour has played in 783 games (with 493 starts) while averaging 9.6 points, 4.6 assists and 2.3 rebounds. He is a career 43.1 percent shooter and a 35 percent 3-point shooter. He pumped in a career-best 12.1 points a game as recently as three years ago and he shot a dazzling 44 percent from 3-point range during the 2010-11 season.
The addition of Ridnour gives the Magic 15 players on their roster and likely concludes a busy offseason of remaking the team. Orlando nabbed Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton and Devyn Marble from the draft, traded for Evan Fournier, claimed Green off waivers and signed Frye, Gordon and Ridnour in free agency.
"It's going to be fun to watch (all young guys) night in, night out," Ridnour said. "It will be a fun season."
Gordon, who is still two months from his 19th birthday, said he that he thinks the Magic have the right mix of savvy veterans and energetic young players to be a surprise team in the NBA next season.
``It’s really about maturity,’’ said Gordon, the prized No. 4 pick from the June NBA Draft. ``We’ll see how we respond in our first few games to pressure situations. You can’t really know until you know. But we have a lot of mature guys on this team who are ready to compete and ready to win.’’
Hennigan said one of the common threads to successful rosters is that the composition of the roster isn’t too young or too experienced. He feels that the team’s acquisition of several season veterans late in the free-agency period gives the Magic the right balance of youth and seasoning heading into next season.
``It would be a problem if we said we didn’t like (the roster). We’re excited where we’re at, but we still have a lot of work to do. We do think we’re heading in the right direction,’’ Hennigan said.
``We were trying (during the free-agent signing period) to focus on what we felt was best for us,’’ the GM continued. ``Our focus was always, `How do we make the team better? How do we get better?’ Do those things under the context of how we’ve been trying to build this team from the beginning. We’re just staying the course. That was always our mindset and if there were guys that we targeted in free agency we wanted to be aggressive and get those guys.’’