Not to beat you over the head with J.J. Redick stuff, but we should note that the Orlando Magic exercised their fourth-year option on Redick's contract, which now runs until 2010. There's no official announcement on the team's website, but Brian Schmitz is in-the-know, and we'll take him at his word. John Denton, another man in-the-know, has these two posts on the subject.
The move doesn't seem to make sense, at least on the surface. Redick hasn't made an impact in his two years as a pro, probably due to his defensive deficiencies. But Redick appears to have coach Stan Van Gundy's support. He was the first guard off the bench in last night's loss to the Hawks, and he played well. The money quote in this development comes from Van Gundy. In the blog post linked above, Schmitz quotes Van Gundy as saying the following:
"We'll see where it goes," Coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But if I had to play a game tomorrow, if I had to play one that meant something tomorrow, which I don't, I have three weeks . . . but if I did tomorrow, [Redick would] be in the rotation."
"He's played the best of anybody (after starter Mickael Pietrus). He's played the best of those other guys."
With Van Gundy's support, Redick appears to be in the team's long-term plans; he's always had GM Otis Smith's backing.
Last week, Smith told Denton his philosophy when it comes to acquiring players: "You want to get guys before they peak." With that quote in mind, it appears as though Smith and the Magic believe Redick is their shooting guard of the future. If they're truly committed to J.J., incumbent reserve shooting guard Keith Bogans may be on his way out sooner rather than later.
For what it's worth, I spoke out in favor of the Magic trading Redick earlier this summer, largely because it didn't appear as though he had a chance to shine here. I'm backtracking on that stance a little now. If Van Gundy's confident in J.J. and thinks he's worth playing 15-20 minutes a night, and if J.J. makes the most of those minutes, fantastic. He will have a role here for the first time ever, in which case it makes sense for the team to keep him.
Whatever the outcome, one thing's for sure: nobody thought Redick had a prayer to crack the rotation this season, what with the Magic's drafting Courtney Lee and signing Mickael Pietrus. His rise to relative prominence is the surprise story of Orlando's preseason. And while circumstances may change between now and the start of the regular season (count how many times former Pistons coach Flip Saunders reneged on his promises to play Amir Johnson) it's true that right now, Orlando's minutes at the backup two-guard position are Redick's to lose.
Let's see how he does.