By Ben Golliver
Here's a check for $5.4 million. Now, please, show yourself out.
This is roster cut week in the NBA, and October waiver decisions rarely get more expensive than this one.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic have waived veteran guard Quentin Richardson, swallowing significant guaranteed salary owed to him during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
Richardson, 32, didn't fit into the Magic's long-term plans, and he didn't play in Orlando's final four preseason games. General manager Rob Hennigan and coach Jacque Vaughn informed him of the news this morning in a meeting at Amway Center.
“Actually, Rob did a great job just getting outfront and being open and everything,” Richardson told the Orlando Sentinel by phone. “So it wasn’t something that blindsided me. He kept in constant communication with my agent, Jeff Wechsler. I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for the way Rob handled everything.
Cutting Richardson comes at a hefty financial cost for the Magic, who will owe him $2.6 million this season and $2.8 million next season unless another team claims him off waivers within 48 hours, which seems unlikely given his age and recent on-court production.
Big picture, this expensive decision isn't particular surprising. Richardson's signing in 2010 was one of a number of moves aimed at bolstering the Magic's title contention hopes. With franchise center Dwight Howard traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, the full-scale rebuild is underway. A well-traveled veteran wing with pedestrian production like Richardson belongs as a deep reserve on a contending team, not fighting for rotation time on a young team that is hoping to go nowhere (except the very top of the lottery) fast.
The release of Richardson only clears the way for Hennigan's tear-it-to-the-ground rebuild under first-year head coach Jacque Vaughn. Guard Arron Afflalo, acquired from the Denver Nuggets in the Howard trade, joins J.J. Redick to handle all available two guard minutes and rookie Maurice Harkless will get a shot behind Hedo Turkoglu at the three. As this season unfolds, there's a good chance that the Magic will look to test out other young pieces on their wings. They've got nothing to lose in 2012-13 and if they happen to find someone young and inexpensive that sticks along the way, it will be all gravy. Richardson's 12-year NBA career has included stops with the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and the Magic. He averaged 4.5 points and 2.6 rebounds in 18.0 minutes per game last season.