In every sense of the term, the six-player trade that sent J.J. Redick from the Orlando Magic to the Milwaukee Bucks was a business decision.
Redick, having his best season as a pro but on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent in July, was dealt Thursday to the Bucks shortly before the NBA’s trade deadline. Along with him, the Magic sent guard Ish Smith and forward/center Gustavo Ayon to Milwaukee for forward Tobias Harris and guards Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih.
That wasn’t the only move made by first-year general manager Rob Hennigan. The Magic also traded forward Josh McRoberts to the Charlotte Bobcats to forward Hakim Warrick, who is likely be waived, and an undisclosed amount of cash.
From a financial standpoint, ownership couldn’t risk letting the popular shooting guard – who has developed into more than just a shooter – sign elsewhere without receiving compensation. Redick’s agent will reportedly ask for as much as $10 million a year on the open market, and the Magic were unlikely to lavish that sort of deal on a sixth man, albeit one of the better ones around.
Redick was averaging career highs in points (15.1) and assists (4.4) in 50 games while leading the Magic in 3-point field goals made with 117. He ranks eighth in franchise history with 549 3-pointers, dating back to when he was a first-round draft pick in 2006 following a storied college career at Duke.
“Clearly J.J. scored a lot of points and was having a great season for us,” Hennigan said. “We’re going to have to find someone to pick up the slack.”
Redick, who was one of the few remaining ties to the Eastern Conference champions of four years ago, heads to a team currently with the eighth-best record in the conference at 26-27. The Bucks rank 21st among 30 teams in 3-point field-goal accuracy and 3-pointers made. Indiana, Philadelphia and San Antonio were also mentioned as potential suitors for him prior to the deadline.
“There’s no really easy way to handle it,” he told the Orlando Sentinel after hearing of the news before the Magic left for Memphis, where they will play Friday night. “Trading is tough, tough. It’s my first time experiencing it.”
What is evident from the two trades is the front office’s ongoing plan to clear cap space for a run at free agents in the summer of 2014. The Magic could have as much as $35 million to offer any number of players.
“There are decisions you make because you believe in the process,” Hennigan said. “And we believe in what we are doing.”
Although the Magic didn’t obtain a future first-round pick from the Bucks, Harris was the 19th overall selection in 2011 and is only 20 years old. He made 14 starts this season and was averaging 4.9 points in 28 games. While there would appear to be similarities between Harris and rookie Maurice Harkless, Hennigan said he thinks the two of them can complement each other.
“Tobias (Harris) and Doron (Lamb) are two young players who complement our current roster and have tremendous potential to grow with us,” Hennigan said. “Tobias is a versatile forward that can play both forward positions, while Doron is a combo guard who helps fortify our backcourt with his shooting and ball-handling ability. Beno (Udrih) is a proven point guard who adds veteran leadership and experience to our team.”
Redick’s departure is likely to result in increased minutes for E’Twaun Moore behind starter Aaron Afflalo. Lamb was a 3-point shooter in college at Kentucky but is still adjusting to the distance in the NBA game and had spent most of the past month playing for the Bucks’ entry in the developmental league. Udrih is a nine-year veteran who was teammates in San Antonio with Magic coach Jacque Vaughn.
Depending on when the three of them pass their physicals, they could be in uniform as soon as Saturday night when the Magic host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both Ayon and McRoberts started only three games this season and were averaging fewer than four points a contest. Ayon came over from New Orleans in Hennigan’s first noteworthy trade, the deal that sent Ryan Anderson – the winner of the NBA’s Most Improved Player award last season – to the New Orleans Hornets. McRoberts was among the 12 players involved in the trade where Dwight Howard went to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Redick and the Bucks will be in Orlando the night of April 10, and he is expected to be greeted warmly by fans upon his return.
“Sometimes you’ve got to make decisions that are not the most popular but are the best for the organization,” Hennigan said.