Examining Orlando’s Free Agents: Jason Richardson
Although Gilbert Arenas had the big name and Hedo Turkoglu’s return took some of the spotlight, the player who most thought would help the Magic more than any in their December trades was Jason Richardson.
Richardson was having the three (well, two-and-a-half) best shooting years of his career in terms of true shooting percentage and was an experienced player who’s been able to hit a lot of big shots over the course of his career.
Of course, like just about every move the Magic made this season, it didn’t go according to plan.
Instead, Richardson saw a decrease in virtually every statistical category after putting up of the best numbers of his career with the Phoenix Suns in the first 25 games of the season. It all culminated in a terrible playoff showing that saw Richardson average just 10.0 points per game while posting an effective field goal percentage of 41.2% and a true shooting percentage of just 45.9%. Richardson was also suspended for game 4 because of an altercation with Zaza Pachulia in game 3.
Below are Richardson’s numbers with the Magic this season.
GP GS MPG PER PPG eFG% TS%
55 55 34.9 13.2 13.9 52.8% 54.3%
FT% TRB% AST% TOV% USG ORtg DRtg WS/48
70.1% 6.7 9.7 8.4 18.5 109 103 .126
Now, it wasn’t all bad. Richardson still had some moments. He knocked open shots and became Orlando’s second leading scorer. He also became Orlando’s go-to three-point shooter in crunch time. You’ll remember going 6-of-8 from beyond the arc in Orlando’s March 3 comeback victory against the Miami Heat and his four-point play against the Philadelphia 76ers which sent their January 19 matchup to overtime (Orlando won the game 99-98).
Of course, it would have been nice to see Richardson be more aggressive and make more an effort to get to the basket, but that’s a different story.
Richardson just played out the final year of a six-year, $70 million contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new CBA is settled.
Richardson turned 30 in January.
With the Magic well over the salary cap and seemingly no realistic chance to dump the horrible contracts of Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu, the Magic probably don’t have any other option than to try to keep Richardson. If they don’t, Richardson will walk away and it will be nearly impossible to find a player at his level given their salary cap issues.
Steve Kyler of Hoops World has stated several times both sides want to work out an extension. Richardson has gone on the record saying he would like to remain with the Magic.
Since there isn’t a better affordable option out there, I’d expect the Magic to try to work out a deal with Richardson and there’s a pretty good chance he’ll return next season.