|Published:||Jul 20, 2010 12:08 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Jul 21, 2010 5:48 AM EDT|
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) â€” As if emotions aren't high enough on a honeymoon, J.J. Redick was on edge awaiting word in Europe on whether the Orlando Magic would match an offer Chicago made for the restricted free agent.
"My gut feeling changed about seven times during that week," Redick said.
It was only fitting that the culmination of his remarkable NBA turnaround would occur in such fashion. After all, nothing has come easy in the NBA for Redick.
But the work has paid off.
The former Duke standout is getting more than $19 million for the next three seasons to remain with the Magic, the same team that once benched him. Now with Vince Carter signed for only one more season, Redick will likely have the opportunity in the coming years to be a starter.
"I think I can start on a lot of teams. I don't think I'll start on this team (now), and I'm OK with that," Redick said Monday. "I'd be lying to say that I don't want to start at some point."
The latest journey couldn't have begun at a stranger time.
Redick was in Rome with his newlywed wife, Chelsea, when he learned the Bulls would be making him an offer. They were eating dinner the following day in Florence when the offer became official.
"I think the people at the restaurant must have thought I was crazy or I didn't like my wife because I was literally getting up like every 10 minutes and going out to the square and pacing around. I pace when I talk on the phone," Redick said, chuckling. "We went back to the hotel and played the fax game. There was some stuff that was lost in translation with the hotel employees, but we got it done."
Then came the stressful wait.
Because Redick was a restricted free agent, the Magic had seven days to decide whether to match Chicago's offer. The Redicks would have to wait all seven.
A week later on a Barcelona beach, phone calls started to trickle in that Redick would be staying with the Magic. They scurried into the first restaurant they could find â€” a shoddy place, as he recalled â€” to try and get official word.
Not exactly an ideal location.
"We walked in and it was an old lady behind the counter and like four chairs," Redick said, laughing. "And then we just did some stuff to kill time. I got back, and my phone was lighting up and I saw that I was coming back to the Magic. Those couple hours, I tried to get out of place, out of mind."
Now begins his next journey, one that comes after a tough four years.
After being selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Redick was relegated from college star to seldom-used reserve. He struggled so much early on that by 2008 the shooting guard and his agent went public with the frustration, asking to get more minutes or be traded.
That memory has faded.
Redick has become a significant contributor for the Magic. He's more of an all-around player now and not just a strong shooter, and he is no longer a defensive liability.
Redick averaged 9.6 points per game off the bench last season. He also came up big in the Eastern Conference finals against Boston, averaging 11.2 points in the series while Carter struggled.
Redick has maintained since the season ended that he wanted to return to the Magic, where he's become a fan favorite â€” included to Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. But it's also a place where, for now, he'll have to come off the bench.
"The way I look at it is we have Vince Carter. Vince has caught some flak, I mean, he still put up good numbers," Redick said. "He's not the player he was when he was 25, I don't think he would argue that. But he's still a really good shooting guard."
Next year will be a big season for Redick
Carter is in the last year of his deal, and it's unlikely Orlando â€” a franchise deep into the luxury tax â€” will keep him. So that gives Redick a chance to continue to improve, with the opportunity that he could be more than just a reserve.
"I don't know what is going to happen with Vince. I don't know who they're going to bring in," Redick said. "But I'm just focused on getting better and kind of helping the team move forward."