Less than a month ago, it appeared as though J.J. Redick cemented his role as the backup shooting guard in the Orlando Magic's rotation.
Less than two weeks ago, I was so confident in his breaking through that I devoted a paragraph to the subject in my 2008/2009 Season Preview.
Less than one week ago, Redick and Tony Battie were the first men off the bench in the Magic's first game this season, a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Redick missed all his shots from the field in 18 minutes and allowed Hawks reserve guard Ronald Murray to score 11 points in the 10 minutes he guarded him. Atlanta Journal Constitution beat writer Sekou K. Smith called it "pitiful."
Less than 24 hours ago, Redick recorded his first Did Not Play-Coach's Decision of the season. The veteran Keith Bogans and the rookie Courtney Lee took over his minutes. And Brian Schmitz is a little confused. So am I.
Sure, J.J. hasn't exactly earned his playing time. He still can't buy a basket, missing all 8 of his attempts, and he's contributing nothing on the other side of the ball. Lee was no great shakes in his pro debut last night, shooting 1-of-6 from the field, but he did play solid defense.
So no, it's not that I think that J.J. is getting robbed of minutes. But Stan Van Gundy has preached that now is not the time to "jerk" anyone's minutes around. Yet that's exactly what Stan did to J.J.'s playing time. The message doesn't jibe with Van Gundy's usual emphasis on maintaining players' confidence. Before his team beat the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, he had this much to say about keeping morale high:
"I think one thing people don't realize is how fragile confidence can be," Van Gundy said. "We are still a long way from where we want to be, and I think we need to come back [tonight] with the kind of focus we had to get the job done."
So will we see any of J.J. in the near future? Or will it be a steady diet of Bogans and Lee? As the cliche goes, only time will tell. Philadelphia, Orlando's next opponent, was witness to a Redick Special last season in which the guard scored 10 points in 16 minutes, albeit in a losing effort.
It strikes me that the backup two-guard situation wouldn't matter so much if Mickael Pietrus would just stop fouling people; he's averaging 5.5 fouls per 36 minutes in this young season, which is equal to his average from last season. Maybe we should just blame him.