Now in his 11th NBA season, Orlando Magic swingman Quentin Richardson has nearly seen it all, so he took today's news that his team made two trades, dumping four players and acquiring four more, in stride. Richardson and Malik Allen were the lone Magic players who made themselves available to the media in the locker room prior to last night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Most of their teammates, I learned from someone else, caught up with former Magic player Tony Battie elsewhere in Amway Center. Wearing his NBA logo socks, Magic uniform shorts, and a sleeveless grey shooting shirt, Richardson held court with the media while relaxing in a swivel chair in front of his locker. I asked him about the day's events.
The first topic I brought up is how he kept pace with the rumors that kept circulating. "Whenever something's gonna happen, or whatever, usually your agent will hit you--if you have a good agent that's trying to be in tune with everything--my agent hit me and told me he heard some things were possibly going to happen," Richardson said, later pointing out that he and his teammates are in no position "to stop or prohibit anything from happening." He tried to put the trades in perspective and stressed it's incumbent on the players available to perform their best: " Whichever ones are here, whatever group we got, we're supposed to go out and play ball, and play to win." Richardson, who was traded four times in the summer of 2009 before landing with the Miami Heat, is a pragmatist if nothing else. "What can we do?" he asked. "The game must still be played."
Richardson said he had contacted Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Rashard Lewis, and Mickael Pietrus to wish them well on their new teams, but had yet to reach Gortat. "It's always tough when you have guys that you've been teammates with, that you've grown to be friends with, to see them leave," he said, before again emphasizing that the Magic have "to do what they feel is best for the team."
Despite the rumors that picked up feverishly Friday night, Orlando did not complete a trade until late Saturday afternoon, so the Magic went through their usual game-day shootaround routine. "Rashard and Vince were still in the starting unit," he said. "Me, M.P., [and] Marsh were on the second unit."
The sudden trades came as news to Richardson, but he's very familiar with this sort of situation. He was a New York Knick on November 21, 2008, when the Knicks cleaned house in two separate deals. They traded Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the L.A. Clippers and Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors, leaving them desperately shorthanded for their game that night in Milwaukee against the Bucks. "We were in Milwaukee on the road and we went to sleep after shootaround, wake up, Jamal Crawford is gone, Zach was gone [...] they sent four guys and we had, like, seven guys." Memorably, that night was when Stephon Marbury, who felt disrespected about only being asked to play in an emergency, declined to play for the Knicks. "We had seven guys," Richardson said, "and Steph was one of the seven, so really we had six guys and he was like, 'I'm not playing.' And we were like, '...wow.'"
I asked Richardson if the Knicks lost that night. Staring straight ahead, he sighed, and uttered, "Yeah." Indeed, the Bucks prevailed by a 104-87 final. Seven players, not six, as Richardson remembered it, played for New York. Richardson logged 39 minutes in the defeat, scoring 7 points.