Denton: J-Rich Hopes to Remain With Magic

By John Denton
April 29, 2011


ORLANDO – Jason Richardson doesn’t want the last image of him in an Orlando Magic uniform to be one of him limping around on a badly injured left heel and getting his potential tying shot blocked at the buzzer.

Richardson, a free-agent-to-be this summer, had the ball in his hands at the conclusion of the Magic’s 84-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 Thursday night at Philips Arena. The victory gave the Hawks a 4-2 win in the series and ended the Magic’s season in the first round and well short of expectations.

Playing on a heel that needed seven stitches to close a cut from a piece of glass, Richardson hobbled through a seven-point, one-rebound effort in 25 minutes on Thursday night. It was the conclusion of a frustrating series where Richardson averaged just 10 points and shot only 33 percent and was suspended in Game 4 for fighting with Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia.

``It’s very tough. They did what they were supposed to do, they came out on fire and made it tough on us,’’ Richardson said of the Hawks. ``We had some good looks. But we just didn’t make them.’’

Clearly bothered by the foot that he cut Tuesday afternoon when he slipped on some spilled juice and stepped on a broken glass, Richardson played just nine minutes in the second half Thursday night. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy questioned his logic of playing Richardson when he clearly had trouble dealing with Atlanta’s Joe Johnson, who scored 23 points and grabbed seven of his 10 rebounds on the offensive end of the floor.

``It was tough, but I went out there and battled. I could have sat out, but I played and tried to give it my best,’’ Richardson said. ``I sat down there for a long period of time, but it was (Van Gundy’s) decision. I wanted to play and I wanted to be out there.’’

And Richardson said he definitely wants to be in Orlando beyond this season. He was acquired in the Dec. 18 blockbuster trade with the Phoenix Suns, a deal that brought Hedo Turkoglu, Earl Clark and Richardson to Orlando for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus.

Richardson, who led the NBA in 3-pointers made and attempted this past season, has had preliminary talks with the Magic about a contract extension. But with the league not having a Collective Bargaining Agreement beyond July 1 and teams uncertain what the salary structures will look like next season an extension in the coming weeks isn’t expected.

Still, Richardson said he’s eager to somehow return to Orlando next season.

``I’ve enjoyed it a lot and I didn’t want it to end. I’d love to come back to this franchise and have a full preseason and start the season off here,’’ he said. ``We built some great chemistry here. But it would be great to be back with this team and start from the beginning.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.