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Denton: Magic Match; Redick Stays

By John Denton
July 16, 2010


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.

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic made another bold move to stay in the chase for a championship on Friday by agreeing to match the offer sheet for J.J. Redick and retain the blossoming shooting guard.

Redick had received a three-year, $19 million contract offer from the Chicago Bulls, but the Magic had the right to match because he is a restricted free agent. The contract was heavily frontloaded with most of the money coming in the first two seasons in an attempt by Chicago to win Redick away from the Magic. But a Magic team already into the luxury tax made the financial commitment necessary to retain Redick.

It is the second consecutive summer that the Magic have staved off an opponent’s attempt at swiping away a player on the roster. The Dallas Mavericks offered Marcin Gortat a five-year, $34 million offer sheet last summer, but the Magic also matched that deal to retain the reserve center.

And now the Magic have once again protected an asset and one of their most popular players with the fans by making another bold financial commitment.

``I’ve said it all along if we don’t have the best owners in professional sports then I’d be hard-pressed to find another one better,’’ Magic General Manager Otis Smith said earlier in the week. ``They’ve stepped up to the plate every time that I’ve asked them to.’’

The free-agent signings of point guard Chris Duhon, small forward Quentin Richardson and the retention of Redick fortifies a Magic franchise that won 59 games each of the past two seasons and reached the NBA Finals in 2009 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010. Orlando has 12 players under contract and is expected to pursue a minimum-salaried point guard to complete their roster.

The resigning of Redick took a week’s worth of consternation, not because the Magic didn’t want to retain the talented shooting guard, but because of the financial ramifications. Because the Magic are already beyond the NBA’s luxury tax threshold, a dollar-for-dollar tax, Redick’s first-year salary could cost the Magic as much as $14 million. The Magic’s payroll sits now at $93 million, tops in the NBA.

Redick, 26, has blossomed into a top contributor despite a slow start to his career. Selected No. 11 overall in 2006, Redick rarely played meaningful minutes his first two NBA seasons.

But he had a breakout season in 2009-10, averaging career highs in points (9.6 ppg.), assists (1.9 apg.) and minutes (22 mpg.). He also dramatically changed his body with work in the weight room and became a reliable defender, earning him more playing time and trust from head coach Stan Van Gundy.

Both Smith and Van Gundy lobbied hard to keep Redick, who earned $3 million last season. And Redick, who recently married Chelsea Kilgore, also pushed hard to stay in Orlando because of his desire to play for a winning team in the championship hunt.

``Winning is the most important thing to me,’’ Redick said back in June. ``I would rather have this role on a winning team with a great organization and in a great city than anything else. In my book, there is no substitute for winning.

``I just hope I’m back here,’’ he continued. ``This is where I want to be.’’

John Denton writes for Orlandomagic.com. His Magic ``Behind the Scenes’’ segment can be heard each week on ESPN 1080 AM. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com.