Denton's Mailbag: Sept. 25
By John Denton
September 25, 2012
ORLANDO – With the start of training camp a week away, it’s time to delve into the Magic Mailbag and answer some of your questions. Without further ado, away we go:
QUESTION: I loved the comments from J.J. Redick last week about his hopes of staying in Orlando, but I suspect he will be dealt at the trade deadline. What are your thoughts? – Sue Irwin (@magicgirl07)
ANSWER: Redick was candid and colorful when I talked to him last week at Adonal Foyle’s charity golf tournament to support his Kerosene Lamp Foundation. Redick talked of living in New York for three months over the summer, how he thinks the Magic will be much better than prognosticators have said and his hopes of staying in Orlando long term.
Clearly, Redick has already had some long, deep conversations with Magic GM Rob Hennigan about his future. One good sign for Redick is that he is still here in Orlando. The Magic could have cut ties with Redick after the season, but they instead picked up their option on the sweet-shooting fan favorite and chose to keep him in Orlando for another season.
The Magic did so because Redick is the consummate professional and a player who has improved his game yearly by working like a madman. Who better to mentor the Magic’s bevy of young players than a guy like Redick who will show up early and work hard every day? And, of course, it also doesn’t hurt that he has evolved into a lethal shooter, a highly underrated playmaker off the dribble and a competent defender.
Much the way the team will look for leadership from point guard Jameer Nelson, Redick will transition into the role of locker room leader this season. His smarts, professionalism and talent give him a shot of not only making it past the trade deadline, but also sticking in Orlando long term. Great shooting is in short supply in the NBA, and sometimes professionalism is as well, so that gives Redick a chance of landing another contract with the Magic after this season.
To his credit, Redick has vowed that his somewhat uncertain future won’t distract his focus or will this season. Here is what he had to say last week:
``I love playing here and I love playing for Orlando. I love representing our fans and our city,’’ Redick said. ``But I understand it’s a transition year for our organization.
I’ve had conversations with Rob and we’re both on the same page with my future going forward. I’ve given him my commitment that as long as I’m in Orlando and wearing a Magic uniform that I’m going to be a pro and give everything like I always have. He knows that and respects that and we’ll be fine.’’
QUESTION: Do you think the Magic will make the playoffs? How do you see them using the massive trade exception? -- @RealJT07
ANSWER: As for the first question, I do believe the Magic have the right mix of veteran talent and hungry youngsters to push for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A veteran core of Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington, Quentin Richardson and Redick is not going to roll over easily just because Dwight Howard is no longer in Magic pinstripes and the organization is in the midst of a rebuilding year. And rookie head coach Jacque Vaughn is eager to prove his X-and-O chops and will drive the team to compete and improve on a nightly basis.
Of course, much of the Magic’s push for the playoffs will depend on the franchise’s desire to keep those veteran players or trade them away for future draft picks. Make no mistake about it: The Magic’s goal isn’t to make the No. 8 playoff slot; it’s to ultimately win a championship. And the easiest way to do that is to stockpile cap room, draft picks and promising young players.
I see the East playoff seeds shaking out like this: 1. Heat; 2. Pacers; 3. Celtics; 4. 76ers; 5. Knicks; 6. Bulls; 7. Nets. The final slot will be between the Wizards, Pistons, Hawks, Bucks and Magic. Incidentally, I see the West breaking down this way: 1. Thunder; 2. Lakers; 3. Clippers; 4. Spurs; 5. Grizzlies; 6. Nuggets; 7. Rockets; 8. Timberwolves.
As for the Magic’s $17 million trade exception acquired in the Howard blockbuster trade, the franchise has until Aug. 11, 2013 (one calendar year) to use the exception. While I don’t see the Magic using the exception to take on a max-level player, I could see them taking back a player or players in a trade to help other teams get under the luxury tax line. Of course, the Magic would also demand first-round picks to execute such a transaction. I see GM Rob Hennigan as someone building for the long term instead of going for the quick-fix trade, so the odds are against the Magic using all of their largest trade exception in franchise history.
QUESTION: Who will be the starter at shooting guard – JJ Redick or Arron Afflalo? Who will be the starter at power forward – Al Harrington or Glen Davis? – Fidel Seineldin (@Fidusei)
ANSWER: Because Afflalo is so mild-mannered and has played in mid-sized markets such as Denver and Detroit, not many people know just how talented that he is as a shooting guard. He is a rare breed in that he is just as good defensively as he is on the offensive end of the floor. And offensively, he is a self-made player who has improved his scoring average each of his four seasons in the NBA.
He averaged a career-best 15.2 points a game last season in Denver while shooting a robust 47.1 percent from the floor and a solid 39.8 percent from 3-point range. He is a blur on the break, running the floor, attacking the basket and playing with fearlessness in the paint. Because of his versatility, I fully expect Afflalo to be the starter at shooting guard when the season opens. He is a player that the Magic targeted in the Howard trade because of his blossoming skills and impeccable character, so he will become a fixture of Vaughn’s starting rotation.
As for Redick, he will once again be a leader on the second unit and instant offense off the bench. I see Redick playing big minutes in the fourth quarter of games because of his strong decision making and shooting. In addition to possibly bettering last season’s career year (11.6 points per game), Redick could push for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award this season.
At power forward, Davis is the obvious answer because of Harrington’s lingering condition with his knee. Harrington will likely be out until December after having knee surgery and a procedure to clean out an infection following last season. But when healthy, the 14-year NBA veteran will undoubtedly be able to help the Magic with his rapid-fire offensive production off the bench.
As for Davis, he is well aware that a full-time starting gig is available for him for the first time in his career. He has responded to that opportunity this summer by getting himself into great shape and emerging as a team leader. Davis shined for the Magic late last season when Howard went down with a back injury, proving he could carry the team for long stretches. He worked over the summer to build his conditioning up to the point where he could play 35-38 minutes a game. Now, it’s up to him to seize the opportunity in front of him and prove himself as a steady starter in the NBA.
QUESTION: Who do you think will take the role of go-to scorer this season for the Magic? – Ernest J. Dellamotta (@ER4Life)
ANSWER: The Magic open the regular season on Nov. 2 at the Amway Center against Denver, and the Nuggets could very well give Magic fans a glimpse at how the scoring production will likely flow this season in Orlando.
Last season’s Denver team, one that included Afflalo and Harrington, had six players who averaged at least 10 points a game. The Nuggets also had another four players average at least 8.6 points a night. Ty Lawson led the way with 16.4 points a game, but often it was Danilo Gallinari, Afflalo and Harrington who shared the scoring load in games.
I see this Magic team being set up in similar fashion – and not just because the team leaders are stressing the value of team over any individuals. We’ve already mentioned the production of Afflalo (15.2 ppg.), Redick (11.6 ppg.) and Harrington (14.2 ppg.) last season, but when you factor in Jameer Nelson (11.9 ppg. in the regular season and 15.6 ppg. in the playoffs), Davis (9.3 ppg. in the regular season and 19.0 in the playoffs) and Hedo Turkoglu (10.9 ppg.), the Magic very well could have six players reach double figures in scoring this season.
Come crunch time, the ball will be in the hands of Nelson and Redick, who have proven themselves as competent scorers and distributors. And Afflalo will certainly get his chances to prove that he can be a go-to scorer for his new team.
QUESTION: I think the Magic should pick up Allen Iverson because he would absolutely pack the arena during the rebuilding process. Your thoughts? – Billy Bryan
ANSWER: Wow, just wow. Maybe the Magic could get A.I. in a package deal with Dennis Rodman and replace the Amway Center roof with a Barum and Bailey’s big top. Maybe the bearded lady would join them also.
After what the Magic just went through the past year with the Dwight Howard saga, do you really think that Allen Iverson would be the right choice? Quite frankly, ``The Answer’’ is not the right answer.
Actually, ticket sales have been quite robust so far this preseason and the fan base has shown an excitement about the Magic franchise starting anew with a hungry, selfless team. The Magic’s Pick-A-Seat promotion was a rousing success last weekend and the new flex plans have been a big hit with fans.
So I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say that Iverson isn’t on Rob Hennigan’s radar for building the Magic with selfless, high-character players. Not now, now five years ago, not ever.
But thanks for asking. And stay thirsty, my friend.
John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.
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