When Orlando and the Phoenix Suns effectively swapped starting shooting guards Vince Carter and Jason Richardson this season in a blockbuster, the Magic knew J-Rich was a rental. The one thing Richardson and Carter had in common: They both can become free agents this summer. The Magic could be looking for another new two-guard — once again. Richardson has declared that he'd love to re-sign as Dwight Howard's wing man. And General Manager Otis Smith says, "We like J-Rich, but we don't know what's going to happen this summer." Smith doesn't know how the labor strife will affect the salary structure for next season. Smith now only has the mid-level exception to offer J-Rich, if there is a mid-level after owners and players quit wrangling. If the dollars resemble past dollars (starting between $5 million-$6 million), Orlando has a shot to re-sign Richardson, who is 30 and didn't really increase his value after the trade. (Whatever, Richardson knows he won't be earning the $14.4 million he made last season.) If the Magic really want J-Rich to return, they'll have competition for his services, considering he is one of the top shooting guards available, along with Magic killer Jamal Crawford. In other words, it's not a very deep free-agent class at the position. You'd have to take a chance on Caron Butler's surgically repaired knee (given Dallas lets him get away) or J.R. Smith's character. Can you see Ray Allen walking away from Boston? And the rest are not really a marked upgrade from J.J. Redick, who has served as backup for both Carter and Richardson: Leandro Barbosa, Marquis Daniels, Shane Battier, Maurice Evans, Shannon Brown, DeShawn Stevenson and Anthony Parker Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus — hmmm, why do those names sound familiar? — have player options.
Magic searching for a shooting guard again
Orlando Sentinel | May 3