J.J. Redick Steps In For Vince Carter Again. Now What?

There's no doubt that Vince Carter is playing better now than he played earlier in the season. There's no doubt that the Magic will need him in the playoffs.

But in light of J.J. Redick once again stepping in with Carter sidelined by a phantom injury, it's worth bringing up whether the Magic need VC that badly. The Magic didn't beat some downtrodden lottery team, they beat the Denver Nuggets, one of the top teams in the West. Without Redick's 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, the Magic would have lost. He certainly is making the case that he deserves more than 22 minutes a game. 

But where do those minutes come from? The answer is ... probably nowhere. Stan Van Gundy can't really cut Carter's minutes, and the Magic need Matt Barnes for his defense and toughness. In the short term, the Magic will just have to plow ahead with Redick playing less than he probably should. 

In the long-term, the Magic may have a problem with Redick. He's a restricted free agent this summer, and as the Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz points out, he made sure to say "If I'm back" next season during a postgame interview. The Magic would undoubtedly want to keep him, but they already are over the luxury tax and would have to essentially pay double for Redick's services. It's hard to justify spending what essentially amount to $7-8 million dollars (once you account for the luxury tax) on a guy who will never play more than 22 minutes a game.

SB Nation's Magic blog Orlando Pinstriped Post writes that the Magic should re-sign Redick and "pay him accordingly." But that's a lot easier to say when you're not the one cutting the checks. It'll be very interesting to see whether Magic ownership will want to break the bank for Redick if they don't win the title this season. 

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