Orlando Magic: What Will Become of J.J. Redick?
Think back to 2006.
J.J. Redick was a captain of a highly ranked Duke team, set an NCAA record for most three-pointers made, broke Duke's career scoring record, and became the all-time ACC points leader, as well as the leading scorer in ACC Tournament history.
He also was the recipient of 13 postseason awards, including the Naismith College Player of the Year and was named an Associated Press First Team All-American.
Come back to 2009 and Redick's basketball life has been turned upside down.
Drafted 11th overall by the Orlando Magic, many thought that Redick—who would not be an NBA All-Star—would be an asset to the team thanks to his great shooting, which would help open up the floor for Dwight Howard.
Redick himself thought he knew what to expect of his role in Orlando.
"I think I'll be a role player like 80 percent of the players in the league are. I don't expect to be a star, I'll just shoot, be a team player," he told the Charlotte Observer.
He could not have anticipated what his role became.
Since he entered the league Redick has struggled to earn minutes. In the regular season, he has appeared in only 140 games out of a possible 246, started in only five, and logged a career average of 14.4 minutes per game.
Certainly not what you would expect from such an accomplished college player.
Some of Redick's biggest critics have said that he is not a capable defender and that he is not athletic enough to create his own shot.
While they are fair criticisms, Redick is still an extremely gifted shooter with a very good basketball I.Q. He deserves more than to be buried on the bench, and when he's been given an opportunity he's produced.
The 2008-09 season was by far Redick's best.
All of his starts came this season, when he averaged 17.4 minutes and scored a career-high 382 points.
Even though his scoring average was only six points per game, he reached double figures 15 times, including a season-high 17 points Jan. 9 against Atlanta, where he played 20 minutes and shot 5-of-7 from the field—including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc—and even pulled in four rebounds.
He was even given an opportunity to showcase his abilities in the playoffs.
He played in 16 playoff games, including eight starts, averaging 20.4 minutes and six points a game.
His best overall performance was in the first round against Philadelphia, where he started in place of the injured Courtney Lee. He played 31 minutes, scored 15 points, shot 5-of-9 from the field, pulled in three rebounds, and handed out four assists.
Redick has publicly voiced his frustrations. While not trying to be a distraction, he has asked his agent to look into possible trades.
"We want to see what's out there," Redick told the Orlando Sentinel, "I want to stay here, but it's been frustrating."
This is where the J.J. Redick saga gets confusing.
While Redick spends most of his time on the pine, Orlando has said repeatedly that they have no interest in trading Redick, even though a number of teams have reportedly called inquiring about his availability.
The franchise claims they like Redick as a player and do not want to let him go, yet at the same time he still has trouble earning regular minutes, no matter how he performs.
What is to become of him?
One possibility was that his increased minutes in the playoffs were an audition, either for other teams (a trade in the off-season) or for his position in Orlando for the upcoming season.
It looks like neither will pan out.
Orlando traded for shooting guard Vince Carter and signed free agent small forward Matt Barnes and power forward Brandon Bass. These moves will push Rashard Lewis back to the small forward position.
Carter and Lewis are going to start, and they will be backed up by Barnes and Mikael Pietrus.
Orlando could also go with two point guards in the backcourt together at some points during the game with starter Jameer Nelson and backups Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson.
Redick will most likely get some extended looks while Lewis begins the season serving a 10-game suspension for testing positive for an elevated testosterone level.
But once Lewis returns, it is very difficult to determine where Redick will land.
Will Orlando continue to keep him on their bench, unleash him when they feel necessary, and hope he moves up on the depth chart?
Redick is in the last year of his contract and could be moved before the trade deadline as other teams try to stockpile cap space in preparation of the huge summer of 2010.
However, if Orlando is having another successful season, it's hard to imagine they will tinker with their roster and move him, especially if no one is significantly injured.
To expand on that, if Redick does not get the playing time he thinks he deserves, it's hard to imagine he'll stick around in Orlando after the season knowing that other teams are interested in his services.
In this case, Orlando would also get nothing in return for a player they at least claim to put a lot of stock in.
It remains to be seen what Redick's role with the Magic will be. What we do know is that Redick can produce and no matter what happens, he will behave in a professional manner.
It will be interesting to see if we ever come close to witnessing the 2006 J.J. Redick again.
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