As we all know by now, Orlando’s starting shooting guard, Jason Richardson, will become an unrestricted free agent at some time this offseason. The Orlando Magic are over the salary cap and if a team wants to give Richardson an expensive, lengthy contract, the two sides may have to part ways. If that’s the case, the Magic will have to find a cheaper and probably younger replacement.
If this is the situation Orlando finds themselves in, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel says the Magic will have to use one of their exceptions, namely the mid-level exception to do so. He threw out some bigger names like Caron Butler, but that’s just not realistic.
First, let’s take a look at the most likely candidate to replace Richardson if he walks, his current backup, J.J. Redick.
There are a lot of things to like about Redick – he can shoot, he’s become a better playmaker and he’s one of the most well conditioned athletes in the NBA. An injury really derailed him this year and outside of a nice first half spurt in game 5, he was ineffective in the postseason.
After the jump, you can read more about Redick and his potential backup, Quentin Richardson.
Redick, who made $7.25 million this season and is due $12.94 million over the next season, is clearly in Orlando’s future plans. They made that clear when they matched the offer sheet he signed with the Chicago Bulls last season.
Redick can handle being a starting 2 on some teams but with Jameer Nelson back as Orlando’s starting point guard, they’d be giving up a lot of size to opponents, which is something that hurt them in their playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks. I think the Magic would prefer to continue to use Redick as a spark off of the bench.
If Redick becomes the starter and the Magic can’t find a more capable shooting guard, Quentin Richardson could become Orlando’s backup at the position.
Here is a look at Richardson’s numbers from the 2010-11 season.
After having a career-year shooting-wise during the 2009-10 season, Richardson had one of the worst shooting seasons of his career during the 2010-11 campaign. The Magic brought him in as a possible offensive upgrade at the 3 spot. Richardson started the season as the starting small forward but began to lose his job as the season went on. After Orlando’s trades, he lost his spot in the rotation before earning more playing time later in the season because he was Orlando’s most capable perimeter defender.
There are some problems with Richardson at the 2. Early in the year, Richardson said he didn’t think there was as much of a difference between the 2 and 3 spot in the NBA these days, but Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy would prefer to use him at the 3 as he thinks he’s better suited there in his system.
Richardson is owed $5,073,600 over the next two seasons and has a player option worth $2,808,600 the following year.
With Richardson locked up for that long and with what appears a decline in the 31-year old’s game, the Magic have to find a spot for him somewhere, but playing the role of the backup shooting guard doesn’t seem to be his best fit.
Next on HtD, we’ll take a look at free agency to find other possible solutions at shooting guard should Jason Richardson decide to leave.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).