Denton's Notebook: Tuesday, Oct. 16


By John Denton
October 16, 2012

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – In the weeks before the Orlando Magic’s training camp started, shooting guard J.J. Redick worried about being in the final year of his contract and how the upcoming season would play out for him.

After all, Redick is a self-described ``planner’’ and he thrives on routine and structure in his life. So not knowing his future beyond this season was getting the best of him for awhile.

But once the two-a-day practices began and the Magic started playing preseason games, Redick stopped the worrying and trained his focus on the task at hand. He figures to be a central figure in the Magic’s transition season, and he’s already proven this season to once again be one of the team’s most dependable players.

Redick said Monday that he found the consternation over his free-agent-to-be status detrimental to what he was trying to accomplish this season and is instead thinking primarily about more improvement in his game.

``I don’t think that’s a good mindset to have. The answer to (thinking about being a free agent) is `no,’’’ he said. ``Right before the season started, I thought about it a lot. But I thought about the things that I could control on a daily basis and that’s my focus right now. I think I’ve been good so far in games, practices and off days of controlling what I can control and trying to get better every day.’’

Redick, whose scoring average has improved each of the past four seasons, has made even more strides in his game this preseason. He had a stellar 18-point, eight assist, four-3-pointer night against Cleveland on Monday. And in the first three preseason games, he’s been indispensible to new head coach Jacque Vaughn while averaging 11 points and 4.7 assists a game.

Earlier in the preseason, Redick affirmed his love for Orlando and said that he hopes another stellar season will help him secure a long-term deal with the Magic.

``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 (GM) Rob (Hennigan) 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.’’

BABY TALK: Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said the most pleasant surprise of the preseason in his eyes has been the way that veteran power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis has attacked every minute on the court.

Not only does Davis lead the Magic in scoring (18.7 ppg.) and rebounding (8.3 rpg.), he also has graded out the highest defensively of anyone on the team. The Magic have asked Davis to be a physical presence on the inside and he has responded by shooting 47.1 percent and getting to the free throw line 30 times (with 24 makes).

Also of great importance is that Davis seems to have finally evolved into the leader that the Magic need him to be. Following a strong finish last season and the August defection of Dwight Howard, Davis talked about being the leader and go-to player the Magic could count on this season. So far, he’s backed that talk up.

``Without a doubt, he has walked the walk,’’ Vaughn said. ``He’s played physical, he’s practiced every day and he’s gone hard. He’s committed himself to being a leader on this team. When we talked at the beginning of (training camp) about what a leader is it’s not just a guy who says, `One, two, three’ in the huddle at the end of practice. It’s somebody who shows the young guys the way in practice and in games.

``He’s been one of our better defensive guys when graded each game and I’ve been pleased with that,’’ Vaughn continued. ``He’s been unselfish and in the right place. And out of our preseason games he’s graded in the top three every single game.’’

MAGIC AND YANKEES: A confluence of the Major League Baseball playoffs and the NBA preseason in Detroit on Tuesday night led to a meeting of many of the Magic players and members of the New York Yankees.

The two teams stayed in the same suburban Detroit hotel prior to their games on Tuesday night. It offered several of the Magic players a chance to meet some of the Yankees players and coaches for the first time. Magic rookie Maurice Harkless, a New York native, got to meet Yankees manager Joe Girardi, while Jameer Nelson spent some time with New York pitchers C.C. Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain.

And then there was this from Redick: ``I talked to Reggie Jackson,’’ he said. ``I told him I hope he gets a hit tonight.’’

ETC: With the Magic veterans resting Tuesday night after playing big minutes Monday in Cincinnati, it afforded an opportunity for playing time for reserve Josh McRoberts. The power forward, acquired in August from the Lakers, played in just one of the first three preseason games. He said that he has a five-year NBA career to support his case for playing time and he wasn’t looking at this preseason as if he had something to prove. Said McRoberts: ``I’m just going to do what I can do. I think I’ve prove myself over the last five years and the style of my game. I obviously still have a long way to go and I’m putting in the work to improve, but I’m not putting a bunch of pressure on myself to prove myself in one preseason game. I feel like there is time for me now to prove what I can do.’’ … Vaughn said rookie Andrew Nicholson’s biggest area of improvement so far in his first training camp is ``getting more physical’’ and ``picking up how hard he needs to play.’’ Vaughn said that while Nicholson is in shape, he still to improve his conditioning to NBA levels where he’s to the point where he doesn’t ``let fatigue dictate his success.’’ … The Magic will be off on Wednesday, practice Thursday in Orlando and then host the Indiana Pacers Friday night at the Amway Center. The Magic host the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night at 6 p.m.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at jdenton@orlandomagic.com or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.

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