The Four Words Magic GM Otis Smith Will Not SayEven before the moment that the Orlando Magic selected J.J. Redick with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, I compared him to Trajan Langdon and questioned whether he could be a starting shooting guard on a playoff team. A couple months ago, David Thorpe of IMG and ESPN directly contacted me to explain why he still thinks that Redick can in fact successfully fill such a role but apparently Thorpe has a lot more confidence in Redick's skills than even the Magic do at this point--and the Magic certainly have a vested interest in seeing Redick succeed considering the valuable draft choice that they used to obtain him, quite possibly the last lottery pick that they will have in the Dwight Howard era.
The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi writes that this whole situation can be simplified into four words that GM Otis Smith will not say: "I made a mistake." Smith drafted Redick but will not admit that the former Duke star is, as Bianchi puts it, "the biggest bust this city has seen since Paris Hilton's nightclub." Instead, Smith insists, "I still think the kid can play for us. I feel no differently about him today than I felt yesterday and the day before. I feel he can be a very good backup 2-guard for us." Keep in mind that we are not talking about a second round pick or a free agent signing--Redick was a lottery pick. Bianchi compares Smith's statement about Redick to "an editor telling a young sportswriter, 'Kid, if you work really hard, you might someday end up doing the bowling roundup for us.'"
Bianchi bluntly notes, "The thing is, Smith has admitted the mistake in every way possible--except verbally. He admitted it two weeks ago when he drafted Western Kentucky shooting guard Courtney Lee. And he admitted it two days ago when he came to terms with (Golden State's Mickael) Pietrus on a four-year, $22 million contract. If you're scoring at home, I believe the Magic now have 11 shooting guards on their roster, and Redick is No. 10 -- one spot behind Nick Anderson, who retired six years ago.
Those of you who believe that Redick will flourish if he is granted a change of scenery should consider this observation by Bianchi: "There is absolutely no other determination you can make on Redick except to say he has been a failure in a Magic uniform. He's played two seasons under two different coaches and still occupies a seat at the end of the bench. He couldn't get on the floor for the defensive-minded Brian Hill and couldn't get on the floor for the offensive-minded Stan Van Gundy. What's it say when Redick, one of the best pure long-range shooters in college basketball history, can't play for Van Gundy, whose system puts a premium on long-range shooters?"
Still, perhaps hedging his bets, Bianchi does leave open the possibility that Redick could at least get off of the bench and play meaningful minutes for another team and he says that the Magic should cut their losses and trade Redick for whatever they can get, even though it will obviously not even come close to matching the draft pick they used to select him. That's the point, though: shooters are at a premium in the NBA and everybody in the league is obviously quite familiar not only with Redick's resume but also with the fact that he is chained to the bench in Orlando. What does that tell you? Either a whole bunch of GMs are missing out on the chance of a lifetime to steal Redick away for a bag of beans or Redick simply is not a legit NBA rotation player.
posted by David Friedman @ 4:07 PM