There wasn’t a whole lot normal about Orlando’s first-round win over the Bobcats. Dwight Howard was stuck in foul trouble and put up numbers maybe Anderson Varejao would’ve bragged about; Vince Carter shot 1-for-17 from three range and 35 percent overall; and yet the Magic won the series easily, the only sweep of the NBA playoffs so far.
J.J. Redick wasn’t his usual self, either. Or maybe he was. After three years of looking like a certified bust, Redick had his breakout this season, and improved throughout — he closed out the regular season averaging 11.5 points and 3.0 assists while hitting 47.8 percent of his threes over the last eight games. But in the Charlotte series he took a step backwards, making just 28.6 percent beyond the arc and putting up 5.0 points and 0.8 assists in four games.
Despite his playoff struggles, though, Redick showed enough in the regular season to earn himself a nice free agent contract this summer. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he signed with the Bobcats.
I’ve been saying since last year that the Bobcats need a shooter, and their new-look roster is no different. Stephen Jackson is too erratic, Larry Hughes can be plain terrible, Gerald Wallace already has enough on his plate, and while D.J. Augustin has a dash (actually a lot) of Jameer Nelson in his game, he can’t be the only perimeter threat.
Soon-to-be ex-Bobcats coach Larry Brown noted during the series that Orlando was able to play an effective zone D because none of Charlotte’s centers were an offensive threat, allowing Dwight to roam free. Brown didn’t mention that the Magic zone also worked because Charlotte’s shooters didn’t make them pay.
“Since the Bobcats don’t have many great jump-shooters (any great jump-shooters?),” wrote Rick Bonnell in yesterday’s Charlotte Observer, “Brown said the priority … in trying to defeat Orlando’s zone tactics is quicker, more decisive ball-movement.”
And if that ball movement results in open shots for a sniper like Redick, zones get picked apart.
One problem is that Charlotte doesn’t have enough money. Tyson Chandler would be crazy not to cash in his $12.7 million option for next season, eating up a lot of potential cap space for the ‘Cats. And even if they let Tyrus Thomas walk, that money would go toward re-signing Ray Felton, if anywhere.
Granted, it would seem strange for Charlotte to bring in Redick when we just heard their arena drowned in boos for the former Duke superstar by the pro-UNC crowd. But if the franchise can find a way (sign-and-trade), the fans might just have to accept their enemy. They might not like it, but J.J. Redick could shoot the Bobcats right into an actual playoff win.