Denton's Notebook: Friday, Feb. 22
By John Denton
February 22, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Both of them stunned last summer by the loss of Dwight Howard, longtime Orlando Magic guards Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick always took solace in the fact that they were still together as teammates.
But after playing together the past seven seasons in Orlando, the partnership between Nelson and Redick ended on Thursday when Redick was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. In addition to becoming franchise fixtures in Orlando, Nelson and Redick had become friends on and off the court. So when it came time to part on Thursday afternoon, breaking up was hard to do for the two long-time backcourt mates.
``I know that there’s a business side that goes on in organizations, but it was tough to even hear about all of the rumors for J.J.,’’ Nelson said on Friday. ``We definitely had become friends over the last (seven) years. We had gained each other’s respect as men off the court. It’s one of those things that are tough, but I have seen a lot of guys come and go in my nine years here.
``I felt like he was going to be with me here to the end,’’ Nelson continued. ``But things happen for a reason and I wish him the best luck. I do and the team does, we just have to move on from it.’’
Orlando traded Redick and reserves Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith to the Bucks for Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb. In a separate deal, Orlando sent Josh McRoberts to Charlotte for Hakim Warrick and an undisclosed amount of cash.
As the Magic’s longest-tenured player, Nelson got to witness Redick’s rise from a player who rarely got on the court his first two seasons to one who eventually boosted his scoring average each of the past five seasons. Before he was traded, Redick was averaging career-bests in points and assists, producing marvel from Nelson.
``I always told him how much I appreciated his work ethic and his professionalism and the way he’d come back from the offseason to the regular season and he got better every year,’’ Nelson said. ``I can’t do anything but to wish the man the best.’’
A PATIENT ENDURANCE: In Redick, the Magic lost their second-leading scorer and their second-leading assists man, meaning someone else will have to pick up that production. Also, by trading away Ayon and McRoberts, it should open up far more playing time at power forward and center for rookies Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn.
Because the Magic have five rookies and three second-year players, head coach Jacque Vaughn stressed that the team will have to have patience as the young players learn the ropes in the NBA and develops. Vaughn said he’ll continue to push players to improve on a daily basis while understanding that wins might be difficult to come by the rest of this season.
``I don’t think this changes our approach at all. We’re trying to establish something that will have sustainability where we’ll be able to be proud of it for a long time to come,’’ Vaughn said. ``That objective has never changed and it won’t change. We will have players in the locker room that will be able to produce. But there’s a patient endurance that it will take for us to get to a level of sustainable play.’’
Nelson said the Magic will likely have to measure success over the rest of the season in individual players’ abilities to improve. But Nelson said the team can’t allow any struggles to come to define the squad.
``The thing we have to do is keep getting better in different areas so that we can turn some of these losses into wins,’’ Nelson said. ``Obviously, we’re not healthy, so that plays a part in it. But it’s important for these young guys to approach every game to win and no accept losing. That’s not acceptable. Even though you are losing, you can’t have a losing attitude.’’
SCOUTING REPORTS: When he worked for the San Antonio Spurs for two years one of Vaughn’s responsibilities was to follow college basketball and know the top players available for the upcoming drafts.
Because of that work in the past, Vaughn is quite familiar with the talents of Harris and Lamb. Harris spent one season at the University of Tennessee before becoming a first-round draft pick, while Lamb was a starter in 35 of 40 games at Kentucky when it won the national championship in 2012.
Vaughn has followed up what he knew about the players in college with some film study of their play in Milwaukee this season. As such, he’s already able to offer up in depth scouting reports about both players.
``(Harris) works extremely hard and he’s going to add a competitiveness to our locker room and team on the floor,’’ Vaughn said. ``His game is still growing. He has the ability to post up and we’ll work on extending his range. But he has a toughness about him that I’m looking forward to seeing in our group.’’
Vaughn doesn’t buy the notion that the 6-foot-8 Harris is ``a tweener,’’ saying the way the game is changing that he should be able to play both forward positions.
As for Lamb, Vaughn had this to say: ``Thinking back to his Kentucky when he and (Marquis) Teague were on the floor and he was the primary playmaker. So he has the ability to handle the ball. He’s a proven shooter, shooting over 40 percent from three in college and more than 80 (percent) from the line. … We’ll see how much he can handle the basketball. He’s sound defensively and he gives us a little height at the (point-shooting guard position).’’
ETC: Nelson strained the patellar tendon in his left knee on Wednesday night in Dallas, knocking him out of Friday’s game in Memphis and Saturday’s game in Orlando against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nelson will undergo further testing on the knee on Saturday. Said the veteran point guard: ``We’re just trying to let the swelling go down and when I get back to Orlando I’ll get evaluated and get a MRI. Hopefully everything comes back in my favor.’’ … While rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson was somewhat stunned by his first experience with the NBA trade deadline, he looked at the moves that the Magic made as a way to give more playing time to the team’s young players. ``I believe they see this as an opportunity for all of us young guys, so it should be good for us,’’ Nicholson noted. … When the Magic host the Cavs on Saturday it will be their fourth game in five nights. And after Orlando plays in Philadelphia on Tuesday and back at home on Wednesday against Sacramento, it will be six games in the first nine nights after the NBA All-Star break.
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