While teams may be interested in J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson, it doesn't mean the Magic will move them.
By KEN HORNACKFS Florida
ORLANDO, Fla. — J.J. Redick and
Jameer Nelson have been down this road before.
So far, it’s a road that has never led them out of Orlando. In terms of continuous service with the Magic, they are the undisputed leaders on the current roster, as well as two of the few remaining ties to the 2009 Eastern Conference champions.
But with the Magic’s six-year playoff run coming to an end, teams that have postseason and title aspirations are making inquiries about the availability of both guards to general manager Rob Hennigan. At least a dozen teams are said to have expressed an interest in Redick, who is in the last year of a contract that pays him $6.2 million this season.
By the time the NBA’s trading deadline rolls around Thursday, Redick and Nelson could be gone as the Magic continue a youth movement centered on stockpiling draft picks. Or the rumors might just end up being so much hot air.
“We both know that if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen,” Nelson said before the All-Star break. “But until then, I’m here and I’m playing my heart out to try to win.”
Victories weren’t in such short supply earlier in the season. Less than a week before Christmas, the Magic were 12-13 and riding a four-game winning streak. But a rash of injuries, especially to forward Glen Davis, has led to a trying two-month stretch.
Speculation about Redick’s days in Orlando being numbered has been an issue since the Magic acquired Arron Afflalo from the
Denver Nuggets in August as part of the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. It was thought the two shooting guards would battle each other for minutes in an offense that wouldn’t be as dependent on 3-point shooting under first-year coach Jacque Vaughn as it was under Stan Van Gundy.
But while Afflalo has started in 46 of 52 games and leads the Magic in scoring at 16.6 points per game, Redick is posting career highs in points (15.3) and assists (4.4) and connecting on 40.3 percent of his 3-pointers.
The Chicago Bulls, who signed Redick to a three-year offer sheet in the summer of 2010 that the Magic matched, are again in the running for his services. The Bulls rank near the bottom of the league in 3-pointers made, and while Redick would give them a lift in that department, he has also transformed himself into more than a one-dimensional player.
Hennigan has kept a low public profile in the weeks leading up to the deadline, his first as a general manager. Redick has let him know he is open to staying, which is an encouraging sign for Magic fans who took him to heart even when he was a seldom-used reserve early in his career.
So Tuesday night’s home game against the Charlotte Bobcats might not serve as a sendoff for Redick or Nelson after all. Nelson still has two years to go on his contract, and teams in the market for a point guard – particularly the Boston Celtics in the wake of Rajon Rondo’s season-ending knee injury – are reported to be looking elsewhere for help.
“We’re both professionals no matter what’s going on – trade deadline, no trade deadline,” Nelson said.