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The one big move that most fans and analysts expected the Magic to make before Thursday’s trade deadline came down to the wire, but general manager Rob Hennigan sent J.J. Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks, along with Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith, in return for Beno Udrih, Doron Lamb, and Tobias Harris. He also traded Josh McRoberts to the Bobcats in a separate deal for Hakim Warrick, who will likely be waived.
Redick was one of the longest-tenured members of the Magic and one of just three players (along with Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson) remaining from the 2008-09 team that went to the Finals. He was the Magic’s best player this season, but his upcoming free agency and the dollars he will undoubtedly command on the open market made this move something of an inevitability. And the return the Magic got on him is solid to say the least.
Losing Redick will hurt the Magic in the short term. He was having a fantastic season and was Orlando’s most consistent scoring threat. But the fact of the matter is this: the Magic’s win-loss record is extremely low on the list of priorities for the organization this season. They’re going to be in the lottery regardless of whether Redick is on the roster or not. Developing the young talent under Jacque Vaughn is a much more pressing issue than the number of games they win.
The Magic were reportedly looking for three things in any prospective Redick deal: expiring contracts, young talent, and picks. Hennigan hit on two of those three bullet points.
As the deadline drew closer, teams grew hesitant to give up a first round draft pick for Redick, which is understandable in light of the new CBA’s luxury-tax penalties. It will cost anywhere between $7-$10 million to re-sign Redick in the offseason and teams aren’t inclined to give up cheap, controllable talent either as a rental or to offset the deal Redick will inevitably get.
But the other two requirements for the trade were met about as well as could be realistically expected. The bulk of Redick’s salary was matched by Udrih’s expiring contract, which is worth $7.4 million. Udrih isn’t likely in Orlando’s long-term plans, but for the remainder of this season, he gives Vaughn at least a serviceable, reliable veteran backup for Jameer Nelson, which decreases the team’s dependence on playing E’Twaun Moore out of position at the point.
Harris, a second-year forward from Tennessee, hasn’t seen the floor much in Milwaukee, but has potential to be a solid scorer in the paint. He and Maurice Harkless will probably battle for minutes at small forward, but there should be plenty to go around for both of them with Hedo Turkoglu temporarily out of the picture.
Lamb, a rookie who played for the 2012 Kentucky team that won the NCAA championship, is extremely raw. But he gives Orlando youth at a position where they previously had none and, as Nelson continues to battle injuries, will likely get plenty of room to develop as the season unfolds down the stretch.
Neither Lamb nor Harris are home runs as prospects, but they are two more pieces to add to the crop of young talent Hennigan has built up since replacing Otis Smith and could pay off big down the line.
Almost as important as any of the pieces the Magic got back for Redick is the decision to trade both Ayon and McRoberts. The latter was expiring and didn’t have much of a future in Orlando. The former was a frontcourt prospect Hennigan took a flier on in the Ryan Anderson sign-and-trade that, so far, hadn’t lived up to his promising rookie season in New Orleans. Most importantly, both of them are power forwards, and eliminating them from the rotation opens up significantly more minutes for rookies Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn, both of whom have been impressive in increased roles since Glen Davis’ foot injury in January.
Losing Redick hurts for now. But the move, as well as the rest of the pieces Hennigan gave up and got back in return, shows his commitment to a rebuilding plan that thus far is going according to schedule, one which places short-term emphasis on developing the prospects on the team. Short of the blue-chip prospect or high draft pick that never really came available for Redick, he did about as well as he could have.