By John Denton
March 3, 2013
NEW ORLEANS – While most fans in Orlando were shocked when the Magic dealt longtime shooting guard J.J. Redick two weeks ago before the NBA trade deadline, Ryan Anderson said he could see the move coming from a mile away.
After all, Anderson had gone through a similar scenario last July when he was a restricted free agent and ultimately was traded by the Magic to the New Orleans Hornets.
Anderson won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award last season and he continues to express his gratitude toward the Magic for helping him become one of the NBA’s most lethal 3-point shooters. But when he signed a four-year, $34 million offer sheet with the Hornets in the summer, the Magic chose not to match it and traded him to New Orleans for the since-departed Gustavo Ayon.
Anderson said he looked on from afar two weeks ago as the Redick saga played out before the trade deadline. Fearing that it might lose Redick this summer when he becomes a free agent while also wanting to continue to stockpile salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2014, the Magic dealt Redick, Ayon and Ish Smith to Milwaukee for Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb.
Anderson said he wasn’t particularly shocked by the Magic’s move because their plan for the future was made pretty clear to him last July.
``Obviously J.J.’s had a great year, he’s been a part of the program there, he was a part of going to The Finals and he was so loved there. That’s the hard thing to understand, but when you look at how their program is shifting with their young, new nucleus to save money. It just makes sense business-wise,’’ Anderson said. ``But I’m sure a lot of the fans are asking why and are upset by it because there are really good fans in Orlando and they really stick with their guys. Now, they have (veteran point guard) Jameer (Nelson) and that’s it from that group. He’s ``The Last Samurai.’’
Anderson has put up similar numbers to his final season in Orlando, averaging16.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in 60 games (and 15 starts) for the Hornets. He said the adjustment from Orlando to New Orleans was difficult early in the season, but he’s slowly made the transition.
``It was tough at first, but it’s just one of those situations where you’ve got to understand the business of basketball,’’ said Anderson, who greeted Magic President Alex Martins, several former teammates and staffers before the game. ``It’s so different that what you thought (previously about pro sports). It used to be if the fans like a guy and he’s good, he sticks around. But it’s a different game now. There are different ways that teams try to build and obviously this new Magic group is putting together a young nucleus. I learned that from my situation last summer.’’
MARATHON SEASON: The NBA’s season is a marathon what with all of the travel, the back-to-back games and the stretches of several games with very few days off. With five rookies and three first-year players on the roster, several Magic players have had to try and get used to the frequency of games on the fly during this season.
Some, such as Orlando second-year center Nikola Vucevic, started well, but seems to have tired of late and Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has promised to monitor his minutes over the final two months of the season.
Monday’s game in New Orleans was Orlando’s ninth game in the past 14 days, testing the mettle of a team that has often had to play shorthanded because of injuries and trades. Vaughn said it’s the kind of test that young players have to learn how to handle by going through it firsthand.
``I think it’s a great lesson for them on taking care of their bodies and the approach that they need to mentally prepare for this game,’’ Vaughn said. ``After (Sunday) night’s game, I’m sure we’re all glad to get back on the court. That’s what is great about this league – you usually don’t have to wait too long to get back at it.’’
MAGICAL NUMBERS: With its 1,092,065 followers, the Magic’s twitter account (@Orlando_Magic) is the second-most followed by sports fans of all of the sports franchises in North America. The Magic trail only the Los Angeles Lakers in Twitter followers as the Lakers have approximately 2.9 million followers.
Impressively, the Magic have more Twitter followers than the defending champion Miami Heat. Miami had 1,082,178 followers as of Monday afternoon.
The Twitter statistics were compiled recently by the Wall Street Journal.
The Lakers, Magic and Heat lead all sports franchises in followers. According to statistics compiled by Deadspin.com, those three NBA franchises have more Twitter followers than all of the teams in the NHL combined. NBA teams average 381,000 followers – 56 percent more than hockey teams, 36 percent more than NFL teams and 49 percent more than Major League Baseball teams.
ETC: Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s longest tenured player, was back in the starting lineup Monday night after missing the past six games with a bruised patellar tendon in his left knee. Nelson has missed 17 games this season with five different injuries. Nelson has played some of his best basketball this season when he comes back from injury. In his previous four returns following injury, Nelson has averaged 20.5 points and 7.7 assists. He had a 32-point game and assist games with 13 and 10. … New Orleans coach Monty Williams, a former Magic player himself, was quite complementary of Vucevic, who entered Monday’s game ranked fifth in the NBA in rebounding at 11.2 rebounds a game. Said Williams: ``I think (Vucevic) is one of the more underrated players in the league. When you get as many rebounds as he has, that’s no fluke.’’ … Magic point guard E’Twaun Moore and Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon played against each other in the 2007 Indiana state high school basketball championship game. Moore’s East Chicago Central squad got the best of Gordon’s North Central High squad, but Gordon was the state’s Mr. Basketball. … Former Magic players Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas just completed their first seasons in the Chinese Basketball League, and neither had big impacts on the success of their teams. McGrady’s Qingdao Eagles were 8-24 and finished last in the league. Arenas played for the Shanghai Sharks and his team finished 14th in the 17-team league to also miss the playoffs. … The Magic will be off on Tuesday before playing the Miami Heat in South Florida on Wednesday. The Magic host the Indiana Pacers on Friday at the Amway Center.
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