Denton's Notebook: Friday, March 17

By John Denton
March 17, 2013

MILWAUKEE – Whereas Sunday’s first game against the Orlando Magic gave J.J. Redick a chance to greet former teammates and longtime friends, the shooting guard already has a sense of excitement and dread about his return to Central Florida in April.

Just the thought of playing in front of the same Magic fans that cheered him for seven seasons as a member of the opposing team makes Redick somewhat uncomfortable.

``It will be different for sure to be a visitor in Orlando,’’ Redick said of the Milwaukee Bucks’ visit to the Amway Center on April 10. ``That will be really different. (Sunday) is more about saying `hi’ to everybody. But that one will be strange.’’

Redick was dealt to the Bucks in a six-player transaction just before the NBA trade deadline in late February. It was a shock to the system of a player who spent his previous seven seasons with the Magic, helping the team get to the 2009 NBA Finals and the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals. Redick still points to that 2010 team, saying: ``I loved that 2010 team. I thought we were the best team in basketball.’’

Redick said the on-court adjustment has been easier than expected because ``basketball is the universal language.’’ In his first 11 games with the Bucks, he averaged 14.2 points per game and has been a big shot-maker for the Bucks by hitting two overtime 3-pointers in a defeat of Utah and a couple of fourth-quarter threes in a win against Golden State.

Redick, who can become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could command a salary close to $8 million a season, said he harbors no bitterness toward the Magic for trading him. He understands that the Magic are in a transition phase and want to retain salary cap flexibility for the future. Redick said he instead will always look back at his time in Orlando with tremendous fondness.

````I’m grateful. If I was to look back and reflect on all of the stuff that happened to me and that I was a part of during that time in Orlando, there were just so many blessings for me,’’ he said. ``Obviously, I met my wife (Chelsea) in Orlando and that was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But there were so many great things in Orlando that I feel fortunate to have been a part of.’’

ORLANDO ADVICE: When Tobias Harris was traded to the Magic late last month just before the NBA trade deadline, he got some much-needed tips about living in Orlando from some of his closest friends on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Veteran guard Marquis Daniels is an Orlando native, while Drew Gooden is a former Magic player and he still keeps an offseason home in Orlando. He said those two gave him tips on where to live in Orlando and some advice on the city’s best restaurants.

Despite no longer playing for the Bucks, Harris has continued to get support and advice from several of his former teammates. He also has remained tight with Bucks assistant coach Bill Peterson, the coach he kept him working and improving his game even after he fell out of the playing rotation in Milwaukee.

Many of those players have reached out to him since the trade, complimenting him on his strong play in Orlando. Harris entered Sunday’s game averaging 15.9 points and 7.3 rebounds with the Magic – numbers many in Milwaukee thought he could post with consistent playing time.

``I still speak to Larry (Sanders), John Henson, Marquis Daniels, Drew Gooden and Joel Przybilla. They are telling me that they are really happy for me,’’ Harris said. ``They tell me, `We knew you could play and we’re happy you are getting that opportunity. Keep it going.’’

Harris started 14 games for the Bucks early in the season, but he quickly fell out of favor with then-Bucks coach Scott Skiles. Harris said he understood Skiles reasoning for wanting to play more veteran players and said there’s no lingering bitterness that he was shuffled out of the rotation by Skiles.

``Those were his coaching decisions and sometimes that’s how the ball drops,’’ Harris said. ``At the same time, Coach Skiles taught me a lot being a young player. He taught me about being consistent and I learned a lot on the defensive end from him.’’

ETC: Magic rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson missed his second consecutive game because of what he called ``a stomach bug.’’ Nicholson, who dressed but did not play, was able to keep down a full breakfast on Sunday morning, but he was still too weak to play. … Redick joked in the pregame about all of the characters that he played with in Orlando, saying ``it seemed like (former GM) Otis (Smith) kept bringing in crazy and crazier people. … Gilbert (Arenas) and (Jason Williams) were two of the weirdest people I have ever met and I mean that in the nicest way.’’ … Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith, who were included in the Redick trade and shipped from Orlando to Milwaukee, have played only sparingly for the Bucks. Coming into Sunday, Ayon had appeared in just four games (46 minutes), while Smith had played just seven minutes in four games. … The Magic were forced to wear their white uniforms during Sunday’s road game so that the Bucks would wear their ``Hardwood Classics’’ green uniforms. ... The Magic’s four-game, seven-day roadtrip continues Tuesday night in Indiana against the Pacers. Orlando and Indiana have split the two games in Orlando earlier this season. The Magic close the trip with a game in New York against the Knicks on Wednesday night.

MORE STORIES: Harkless Earning Trust | Afflalo Embracing Renovation | Harris Finds Inspiration From Father; Thriving in Orlando | Udrih Relieved to be Out of Milwaukee

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