Just four days into the month of January, the Orlando Magic are sitting with a record of 12-20. Given the turmoil that went on this past summer, it's a record that has probably come as a surprise to many. However, with a new coach and talent that refuses to quit, the Magic have not been the abysmal team many thought they would be.
Now, as the Feb. 21 trade deadline approaches, many questions surround the franchise and the direction it should go in from this point on. One of the names that seems to surface most often in Magic trade discussion is that of sixth man J.J. Redick.
Over the course of his career, Redick has gone from being a rarely used bench warmer to one of the league's best sixth men. Averaging a career-high of just over 31 minutes per game, most of Redick's stat numbers have seen a boost as well. His 14.1 points per game and 4.7 assists per game are both career-best numbers, while his 2.3 rebounds per game are equivalent to what he posted during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
Redick has managed to post these numbers despite his career-low 35.5 three-point shooting percentage. If he can start hitting shots on a more consistent basis, his scoring numbers could easily rise.
While the numbers would certainly put him in contention for the Sixth Man of the Year award right now, his value to the Magic goes beyond the numbers. Aside from Jameer Nelson, Redick is the longest-tenured member of the roster this season and has become a vocal leader. You'll frequently see him hopping off the bench and running out to praise teammates on good plays during timeouts or at the end of quarters. You'll also see him voicing his opinion in huddles and during free throws. This step forward is one reason why he's invaluable to this franchise.
Not to mention, the team seems to play its best when Redick is on the court. His constant movement without the ball and his ability to draw defenders into the air with the pump fake open up a lot of easy opportunities for the likes of Glen Davis, Nik Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson, and Gustavo Ayon. When Redick is on the court, the offense generally flows much better than when he's not.
An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Redick is likely going to garner some nice offers from other teams throughout the league. The risk of not trading him by the deadline is not getting anything in return for his services. From what it seems though, Redick appears to be happy in Orlando and with a legitimate offer from the front office, it would be hard seeing him sign elsewhere.
There's no question that come Feb. 21, the Magic will have some tough decisions to make. The long-term future of the franchise is clearly the number one issue. However, with that being said, making J.J. Redick part of that future is crucial to the success of the organization moving forward.