Denton: Redick, Former Teammates Say Their Goodbyes

By John Denton
February 21, 2013

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – In what proved to be J.J. Redick’s final night in an Orlando Magic uniform and at a time when his frayed emotions ran the gamut from frustrated to helpless to humorous, the standout shooting guard made one thing abundantly clear: His impending free agency was his foremost priority.

When Redick was dealt by the Magic to Milwaukee on Thursday just minutes prior to the NBA trade deadline, it finally brought some short-term clarity to the shooting guard’s immediate future. But what that didn’t change was Redick’s intentions to become an unrestricted free agent this summer so than he can reap the financial rewards of becoming a solid NBA player.

Classy to the very end, Redick hugged and shook hands with his former teammates, coaches and Magic staffers upon hearing word of the trade to Milwaukee just before the squad was to depart for Memphis. In some ways, he seemed to be relieved that the rumor-filled madness was finally over.

In the hours before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, a weary Redick grew almost indifferent as to whether he would be traded elsewhere or remain with the Magic. That indifference was somewhat surprising considering that the Magic are the only franchise that Redick has played for in his NBA career. Orlando is the place where Redick evolved into a solid NBA player, became a fixture of the franchise and endeared himself to a fan base that cheered his every move. But by late Wednesday night, none of that was at the forefront of Redick’s thoughts.

Redick, who turns 29 later this summer, wouldn’t commit to Orlando as a first option, giving every indication that his preference instead was to shop his services this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. That plan of attack isn’t likely to change in Milwaukee, where Redick will play out the rest of the season before becoming a free agent on July 1.

``I’ve earned the right, after seven years with the Magic, to be a free agent and I have to take advantage of it,’’ an exasperated Redick said in a near empty Magic locker room.

With Redick expected to demand a four-year contract worth $8-10 million this summer, the Magic were wary of losing him over the summer with nothing back in return. That’s why they dealt Redick, along with teammates Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith, to the Bucks for two promising young players – Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb – and veteran point guard Beno Udrih.

In a separate move, Orlando shipped Josh McRoberts to Charlotte in exchange for Hakim Warrick and an undisclosed amount of cash. The Magic are expected to waive Warrick on Friday before playing the Grizzlies in Memphis.

Redick was last a free agent in 2010, and he proceeded to sign a heavily front-loaded offer sheet with the Chicago Bulls that was designed by agent Arn Tellem to deter the Magic from matching. Orlando wisely duplicated the deal to keep Redick in a Magic uniform, and over the past three years he had become one of the team’s most productive and reliable players.

While losing Redick will assuredly be painful to Magic fans that had fallen in love with the hard-working shooting guard, the franchise has made clear its intentions to build over this season and next with young players while stockpiling salary cap dollars. The hope is to have the salary cap space following the 2013-14 season to lure one, if not two, marquee free agents to the Magic. Pair those players with a foundation of talented young players already in the fold and to come in the next two NBA Drafts, and Orlando hopes to have a championship-ready roster after next season.

If the Magic’s course of action wasn’t apparent last summer when it refused to match a four-year, $34 million contract offer from the New Orleans Hornets to Ryan Anderson, it should perfectly clear now with the decision to trade Redick. With Arron Afflalo already on the roster, luxury tax penalties becoming much harsher starting next year and salary cap flexibility of the utmost importance, the Magic did not want to lock themselves into a position where they were forced to pay Redick $8-10 million a season.

Instead, the decision was to trade Redick now for two promising youngsters and two cap-friendly deals, and not endure losing the shooting guard for nothing in return. As it turns out, Redick can still become the unrestricted free agent that he wants this summer and the Magic can get something in return in the form of prospects and salary cap space.

The Redick/Magic marriage is over, but ultimately both sides got what they were looking for prior to Thursday’s trade deadline. And in some ways, Redick had been preparing for this moment for the last few months. He and wife, Chelsea, are building a home in Austin, Texas, where they will call their home base regardless what franchise Redick is playing for next season. (You would have to think the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets are at the top of the list if the free-agent dollars are there.)

Make no mistake about it, this isn’t about the Magic not wanting to spend money to retain players or add talent to the roster. The DeVos family has done just that over the last five years, spending gobs of cash to acquire and retain the kind of talent that made the Magic deep and lethal.

Instead, the new strategy is about spending wisely on role players and saving salary cap dollars for superstar-quality players who can be acquired via free agency. Though it may be painful for Magic fans to see Redick go, the day is coming following next season when the franchise will replace him with an even greater difference-maker on the court.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

 

 

 




Follow John Denton on Twitter here