By John Denton September 22, 2012
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ORLANDO – After talking extensively with new GM Rob Hennigan and head coach Jacque Vaughn and working out in voluntary drills with a mostly new collection of teammates, J.J. Redick has a prediction for those expecting the Orlando Magic to struggle in Phase I of their rebuilding efforts this season.
`` I truly believe, and I say this with sincerity, that we will be better than people expect,’’ said Redick, who will be looked to as one of the Magic’s veteran leaders on the 2012-13 squad.
Redick is the second-longest tenured Magic player behind Jameer Nelson and is coming off a career-best season in which he averaged 11.6 points and 2.5 assists and also shot 41.8 percent from 3-point range. He was also solid in Orlando’s first-round playoff series, averaging 10.8 points and 3.2 assists and hitting a game-tying 3-pointer late in Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers.
But because the Magic are going through a transition phase after trading away Dwight Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark, Redick had to sweat out his future in Orlando back in early July.
Eventually the team picked up the option that would guarantee his future in Orlando for the upcoming season. Now, Redick’s mission is to play well enough to lock up a long-term commitment from the rebuilding Magic. He’s expressed enough to both Hennigan and Vaughn already.
``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 Rob 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.’’
Redick also thinks the Magic will be fine this season even though some prognosticators have predicted that the Magic will struggle after trading Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. Redick feels the veteran core of Nelson, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Quentin Richardson and himself will make the Magic contenders for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
``It’s a different experience this year, not having Dwight. I’ve spent my whole career with Dwight and not seeing him is weird,’’ Redick said. ``But I like the team and I like the group that we’ve had while working out at Amway. There’s a good spirit about our team and a real professionalism about our team. There’s an excitement because we’re new and full of energy. Guys have a lot to prove – whether it’s young guys or vets – we all have something to prove.’’
As for Foyle, he said he is looking forward to taking some time off from the NBA after playing and working in the game for the past 15 years. For now, he’s going to enjoy his first Christmas holiday off in years with friends and family and he’s going to focus on his charitable efforts with the Kerosene Lamp Foundation.
``What’s extraordinary is that I’ve had an opportunity to play basketball at the highest level and now I have an amazing opportunity to give back to the community. And I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do that,’’ said Foyle, who still has dreams of someday running a basketball franchise as a GM or team president. ``From going back to the Caribbean and doing camps there or bringing kids back here or working here in Orlando or in California, it’s been an extraordinary journey for me. You can see the impact because we did camps for 300 kids in Oakland, we brought kids from the islands here and we’ve done great projects in Orlando. So it’s been a great opportunity to engage in our community.’’
John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.
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