For most former lottery picks, it's just a formality when a team picks up their fourth-year option. For J.J. Redick, it was a bit of a surprise. Despite playing for a team that attempted the second-most three-pointers in the league last year, the sharp-shooting guard out of Duke has been unable to crack the rotation each of his first two years in Orlando.
Then again, even that may change this year, as Stan Van Gundy told reporters today that if the regular season started today Redick would be in his rotation. Redick is happy to hear that, but he's not taking anything for granted. From Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:
Said Redick, "I hope he says that on Oct. 29th. He told me that last year in China that I was going to play, but things can change quick in this league. I don't feel like he lied to me on that. I missed the San Antonio game because I hurt my hand and then things changed. I want to be in position on Oct. 29th to play. That's the goal."
Like he said, he was supposedly in line for playing time last year but fell completely by the wayside, playing in fewer games and fewer minutes per game than he did as a rookie under Brian Hill. But despite it all, he obviously has a fan in GM Otis Smith, who not only refused to part with Redick after the guard requested a trade last December but obviously still thinks enough of him to guarantee his $2.8 million salary for 2009-10.
I had a chance to speak with Redick a handful of times in the regular season and playoffs last year, and while he admitted to being frustrated over his lack of playing time, he still handled the situation with class. While Van Gundy is aware of last year's trade request, he recognizes Redick's professionalism:
"I think if you said to him, you can play here for X amount of minutes a game or play somewhere else for the same amount of minutes, I'm confident he'd rather stay here. He's a competitive guy.
Will those minutes finally come in Orlando? It'll be tough, especially with Mickael Pietrus, Keith Bogans and rookie Courtney Lee all vying for time. But even if Redick's season gets off to yet another slow start, at least he has one more season of security he can fall back on.