In trading Marcin Gortat to the Phoenix Suns two weeks ago, the Orlando Magic lost arguably the league's most effective backup center. Mobile, athletic, with good hands and a knack for rebounding, Gortat ably filled in for Dwight Howard when foul trouble plagued the Magic's star. Without him, Orlando's using starting power forward Brandon Bass, listed at 6-foot-8, as Howard's backup. Ryan Anderson, Malik Allen, Earl Clark, and Daniel Orton stand as the only other bigs on the roster, with Anderson as the only proven rotation player among those three. It's clear Orlando need to acquire another big man before the playoffs, as an insurance policy in case Howard is unavailable for whatever reason.
What's also clear is that Orlando should be unwilling to part with reserve shooting guard J.J. Redick in any trade for such a player.
A HOOPSWORLD report filed yesterday afternoon said to "expect" Orlando to be more willing to move Redick than Jason Richardson, whose expiring contract it acquired from Phoenix in the Gortat trade:
Expect one of the players currently out of the rotation - such as Chris Duhon or Quentin Richardson – or even J.J. Redick to be moved before [Jason] Richardson if the right deal for a big comes along. The Magic also hold a hefty Traded Player Exception worth more than $6 million.
Further, Sam Smith of the Chicago Bulls' official website writes "most team executives" believe Orlando will begin fielding offers for Redick in an effort to bolster its big-man depth.
But swapping Redick for a big man would prove foolhardy for the Magic. The fifth-year player means too much to this team as presently constructed. He's shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range to date, and pouring in 10 points per game off the Magic's bench; all those figures represent career-highs. According to Synergy Sports Technology, among players who have used at least 200 possessions this season, Redick rates second only to Denver Nuggets center Nenê in points produced per possession. Further, until enough time has passed to properly assess Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, Redick holds the distinction of being Orlando's most productive, efficient, and reliable perimeter player this season. His contributions stand in contrast to what one might reasonably expect from a new backup center, who would ideally play between 10-to-15 minutes per game.
None of this is to trivialize the importance of Orlando's bolstering its front line. That's a glaring need, which I don't think anyone would dispute. The issue is Redick is far too much to give up for a player who'd have a diminished role in comparison to Redick's own.
Redick's status as a Base Year Compensation player--which Larry Coon explains brilliantly here--also problematizes his trade value. In the simplest terms I can convey, Redick's salary for trade purposes ($3.625 million) is far lower than his actual salary ($6 million), meaning the Magic can take back only 125% of his Base Year salary in a trade. Thus, dealing Redick would cost the Magic one of their most important players this season, and they'd lose him for roughly 50 cents on the dollar.
Orlando ought not consider Redick untouchable--the only player to whom it should apply that designation is Howard--but it certainly can't afford to part with him in a trade for a 10th-man type, as Howard's backup would be. Addressing that need via free-agency or a smaller, less significant trade is surely the right move to make in this instance.