Orlando Pinstriped Post Photo / Bruce Maddox
Otis Smith announced the Orlando Magic retained J.J. Redick, by matching the Chicago Bulls' offer sheet to him, in style during a news conference this morning at RDV Sportsplex. Smith, clad in a Harley-Davidson button-down shirt, walked into the room, sat down, and said, "He's staying." Then he stood up to leave; he later explained he's going on a bike ride today.
Smith cited Redick's "pedigree" and "DNA" as reasons for matching the offer sheet, which the Bulls front-loaded to discourage Orlando's match. "You can't have enough guys on your roster that their core is just winning," he said. "You want to keep him as long as you can."
Curiously, Smith said he had not spoken to Redick; he let the task of informing him fall to head coach Stan Van Gundy, which Van Gundy did last night.
"We came up with the decision yesterday," Smith said. "The folks from Grand Rapids [team chairman Rich DeVos and President/C.E.O. Bob Vander Weide] pretty much supported me from day one, told me to do what I think is best." But he added, "there's always some debate, money-wise" and added that "there was some surprise" when details of the offer emerged last week.
And that's where flexibility comes in. "You have to somewhat remain flexible to do other things," he said, "regardless of what it looks like right now." Later, he added, "there's always opportunities to move players."
I did not take that comment to mean that a trade is imminent. Smith reiterated that while he has trade offers--"the fact that you have players other teams want makes you flexible," he said--he won't make any deals that will sacrifice talent. He also said the team will be better this year than it was last year, specifically mentioning Brandon Bass and Vince Carter as two players he expects to thrive after another year in Van Gundy's system.
From there, the topic of the conversation turned to other roster moves, though Smith said "I think we're gonna sit still for a week or so, let some things shake out," so we might not hear anything new for a while. The topics after the jump include Matt Barnes, Marcin Gortat, Stanley Robinson, and Jason Williams.
Smith confirmed that he has not offered free-agent forward Matt Barnes a contract, and did everything but rule out a return. He explained he wanted to "bring in" two guys out of a group featuring Barnes, Redick, and Richardson. "Quentin [is] a little bit better skill player, some similar toughness as Matt has," he said, essentially confirming the belief that Richardson will functionally replace Barnes on the roster. The belief in the media room after the presser is that Barnes' "antics," to use one reporter's word, bothered the team. "We like Matt for what he brought to the table," Smith said, "but sometimes you have to make decisions that's best for your club long-term."
Regarding Marcin Gortat, the Magic's best trade chip due to his salary relative to his position, Smith said, "There's always interest in Gortat... maybe 18 teams. That's why we signed him last summer." Again, I did not get the sense that Smith is actively shopping Gortat, but it's clear that he's the player about whom most teams inquire when they call Smith.
Next on the agenda for Smith? Finding a 13th player to fulfill the minimum roster requirement. It's likely to be a third point guard, with Smith saying that he considers Jason Williams, last year's second-stringer, as a contender for that job. (For what it's worth, I had overheard last week at the Orlando Pro Summer League some speculation that Williams will join good friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade with the Miami Heat.) If Williams isn't available, "there's a list of other guards that we really like at that spot," he said. One writer in the media room mentioned Travis Diener and Chris Quinn as possibilities, after the presser, and I tend to agree that players of Diener's and Quinn's caliber will draw Smith's interest. Again, Williams is the only player whose name Smith mentioned.
I asked Smith about Stanley Robinson, the team's second-round pick this year, who is not an official member of the team. "That [getting a contract] will depend on [training] camp," Smith said. "I'm not going to tender him an offer in that way. He's going to come into camp and have an opportunity to make our team, force me to carry 14 guys, is what I'd like for him to do. We like to go in with the idea we're going to carry 13, but it's not uncommon for us to add a 14th guy."