Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Free agent Duhon to join Magic
ESPN.com news services
Free-agent point guard Chris Duhon agreed to a four-year, $15 million contract with the Orlando Magic, his agent, Kevin Bradbury said.
The 27-year-old Duhon was the starting point guard for the New York Knicks the past two seasons. He averaged 7.4 points and 5.6 assists a game last season.
Orlando tried to sign Duhon in 2008, the last time he was a free agent, but the guard ended up joining the Knicks instead.
"The last time Chris was a free agent, the Magic obviously pursued him hard," Bradbury told The Associated Press. "Chris didn't forget that, and he has a lot of respect for that team. The Magic called right away."
Magic general manager Otis Smith told the AP the Knicks' offer back then -- a two-year deal worth more than $11 million -- was more than he was willing to spend. Even though he had little success with the Knicks, Smith said playing with All-Star center Dwight Howard should open up Duhon's game.
"I think if maybe he had to do it over again, it may be a different situation," Smith told the AP. "And here we are two years later and him having to do it all over again, and he still fits as well as he did before.
"I think our style of play will help him. We're not really that different [from New York]. But the difference here is he has the big fella inside to help him out."
The Magic currently only had one point guard, Jameer Nelson, on the roster. Last year's reserves, Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson, are free agents.
Drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2004 NBA draft, Duhon has averaged 7.7 points and 5.6 assists in his six NBA seasons.
The former Duke standout could also reunite with J.J. Redick, a restricted free agent whom Orlando is hoping to retain. The Magic, who will be over the luxury tax for the second straight season, have little wiggle room in free agency.
Nelson also has had repeated injuries -- a tear in his right shoulder sidelined him for most of the 2008-09 season, and torn cartilage in his left knee put him on the bench for about two months this past season -- that puts added pressure to have a reliable backup.
Duhon was willing to accept a reserve role to come to Orlando, which went to the NBA Finals in 2009 and the Eastern Conference finals this year. He's friends with Nelson and Howard, among others, and his agent believes Duhon will make a smooth transition.
"It was a great experience in New York," Bradbury told the AP, "but now Chris has a great chance on a great Orlando team."
Information from ESPN.com's Chad Ford and The Associated Press was used in this report.