The Orlando Magic have begun discussing a contract extension with starting shooting guard Jason Richardson, according to a Twitter update from Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD. In separate updates, Kyler says the two sides are "not close at all" on an extension, but that Richardson is the "last guy they want to trade."
Richardson is due to enter free agency this summer upon the conclusion of his $14.4 million contract, but apparently Orlando values the former Michigan State Spartan too highly to let him leave.
Since arriving in a December trade with the Phoenix Suns, Richardson has averaged just 13.7 points per game and shot 42.7 percent from the floor; he's slumped in his last 10 games, with those numbers dipping to 13 points and 39.3 percent shooting.
Because of his high-dollar expiring contract, Richardson could still be a trade asset for Orlando. I listed him among the Magic's assets last week, and SB Nation colleague Mike Prada believes the Magic would be smart to shop Richardson as Thursday's trade deadline draws nearer. But because Richardson is just 30, reasonably productive, and the only shooting guard apart from J.J. Redick on the Magic's roster, Orlando is interested in retaining him.
Richardson is eligible to sign an extension of up to six seasons, with a maximum first-year salary of $15.9 million, which represents a 10.5 percent raise of his current salary, according to Larry Coon's indispensable Salary Cap FAQ. No NBA team would give him such a lucrative figure, but as he's one of the NBA's best non-superstar shooting guards, he will command at least eight figures on the free-agent market. The deadline to extend existing contracts is June 30th.
Notably--and I've mentioned this fact before--powerful player agent Dan Fegan represents both Richardson and Magic franchise center Dwight Howard. And though Orlando reserve point guard Gilbert Arenas represents himself in salary discussions, he consults with Fegan, his former agent, on occasion. Richardson, Howard, and Arenas are Orlando's three highest-paid players.
Otis Smith, the Magic's President of Basketball Operations, previously struck extension agreements with Howard (for five years and the maximum allowable salary) and Jameer Nelson (for five years and $38 million) before their rookie contracts expired.