According to reports from Ric Bucher, Adrian Wojnarowski, and K.C. Johnson, the Chicago Bulls have signed, or will sign, Orlando Magic free agent shooting guard J.J. Redick to an three year dear worth either $19 or $20 million. The Magic will have seven days upon receiving the offer sheet to either match it to keep Redick or to decline and let Redick join the Bulls.
Through a series of trades, the Bulls cleared enough cap space to land two of the premiere free agents this summer, yet only landed one: Carlos Boozer. With the top stars now accounted for, the Bulls have wisely decided to spend that extra cap space on multiple rotation players, rather than overpay for a second-tier guy. Earlier Friday, they signed sharpshooter Kyle Korver to a three-year deal worth $15 million, for instance.
Redick proved invaluable to the Magic last year, and was arguably their most consistent player. On top of regaining his shooting stroke, he developed as a driver, finisher, and secondary playmaker. And while he simply doesn't have the physical tools to be a plus defender on this level, he has honed his potential on that end of the floor and can no longer reasonably be termed a liability.
For his improvement over his four years in Orlando--only team co-captains Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson have been here longer--Redick has drawn praise from Magic GM Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy. On draft night, Smith said this of Redick when asked about his pending free agency:
"I'm a J.J. fan. He's one of those guys that you can say done it the way it was supposed to be done. He came into this league and worked his tail off and got an opportunity to play and took advantage of the opportunity. So it's going to be interesting to see what the market holds for him."
Earlier this week, Van Gundy said retaining Redick is the Magic's top priority this summer.
The market has decided to pay him an average annual salary of $6.33 million, which is rich--above the mid-level exception--but not too rich, and Smith's only choice here is to match. Orlando has just $2.515 million of the mid-level exception remaining after signing point guard Chris Duhon earlier this week, which won't be nearly enough money to entice an equivalent player to Redick. Orlando has the opportunity to lock Redick up for three years at a fairly reasonable price, and would be foolish to turn that opportunity down.
Though wing players are inexpensive by NBA standards--the hardest positions to fill are center and power forward--Redick's shooting stroke makes him unique. In fact, he was the most efficient offensive player in the entire league last season. And without Redick in the fold, Orlando's only wing players under contract will be Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus.
Last summer, the Magic made the tough call to match a five-year offer sheet worth the entire mid-level exception backup center Marcin Gortat signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Smith told the media he would not match the offer, but did so days later anyway.
UPDATE: For what it's worth, Bucher says the GMs he's consulted believe the Magic will match, though he's heard "nothing official from Orl."