Magic Reach Agreement With Duhon
By John Denton
July 6, 2010
ORLANDO – The Magic put a full-court press on Chris Duhon two years ago only to see the point guard sign instead with the New York Knicks who at the time offered more money and a chance to start.
On Tuesday, the Magic finally secured their backup point guard for the foreseeable future.
Magic GM Otis Smith said that Orlando reached an agreement in principle with Duhon on a four-year, $15 million free-agent contract. The contract can’t be officially signed until Thursday, the first day free agents are allowed to sign with teams.
Smith brought Duhon to Orlando two years ago, and this time made sure to call the 28-year-old on July 1, the first day that teams are allowed to contact free agents. Smith laughed at how the entire process with Duhon has come full circle now.
``I think a few things were different between then and now. The financial package he had in New York was different than the one that I put together,’’ Smith said. ``But I think if he had it to do all over again it might have been a different situation. And here we are two years later and he still fits as well with us as he did before.’’
Smith said the Magic will use part of their mid-level exception to sign Duhon and his contract is expected to pay him $3.25 million next season. That will leave the Magic approximately $2.4 remaining to spend if they want to retain free agent Matt Barnes. The small forward has hinted that he’s looking for more money than that and some long-term security.
The Magic also likely will let their trade exception that they got from the Hedo Turkoglu departure last spring expire without being used. Smith does still want to add a third point guard – likely a minimum salaried player because the Magic are already well into the luxury tax.
The addition of Duhon, who will play behind starter Jameer Nelson, likely spells the end of Jason Williams’ time in Orlando. Williams played well in his one season in Orlando, but could be close to returning to Miami where he spent a major portion of his NBA career.
Duhon gives the Magic a competent backup behind Nelson and a solid point guard defender. And he’s also very capable of starting if Nelson should suffer another injury. Duhon played in 67 games this past season for the Knicks, starting 59 of them while playing 30.9 minutes a night. And Smith likes that one of Duhon’s strong suits is his defense against bigger point guards that prefer to post up.
``Chris brings defense and toughness. You look at Chris and he’s a guy who can defend the position well,’’ Smith said. ``He also could start in the event that you have an injury at that position.’’
Duhon is mostly a pass-first point guard who thrives in pick-and-roll sets and averaged 5.6 assists a game for the Knicks last season. He also averaged 7.4 points, but struggled with his shot while hitting just 37.3 percent from the floor and 34.9 percent from the 3-point range.
``He’s a very good player who plays our style of basketball and he’s a tough defender. He can really pass the ball and that’s an area that we need to improve on. He’s a player that we like a lot.’’
John Denton writes for Orlandomagic.com. His Magic ``Behind the Scenes’’ segment can be heard each week on ESPN 1080 AM. E-mail John at email@example.com.