Instead of Joining LeBron, Richardson Now Will Face Him
Richardson, who started alongside Wade in Miami last season, believes his new team in Orlando is every bit as good as the one he has left behind.
"We have just as good a chance as Miami to win a championship this season,'' Richardson said Tuesday at the press conference announcing his signing. "Maybe on paper (the Heat will be the favorites), but when I strap it on to go against them, I know they can be beat."
Richardson spent one season in Miami, but he became expendable last week when Wade convinced both Chris Bosh and LeBron James to join the Heat, which would have pushed Richardson into a reserve role if he had taken the Heat's offer to return.
The Celtics also pushed hard to sign Richardson, looking for a replacement for Tony Allen, who left for the Grizzlies. He signed a three-year deal worth an estimated $8 million in Orlando.
Instead of sitting behind James in Miami or Paul Pierce in Boston, Richardson will likely be starting at small forward for the Magic, who were looking to replace free agent Matt Barnes. That role will make him the guy assigned to slow both James and Pierce -- the Magic's Big Show stopper.
"Nobody in this building (the Magic practice facility) is conceding anything to Miami. They (Heat) have put themselves into position to do well, but the games have to be played,'' Richardson said. "They haven't even started training camp. Crazy things happen sometimes in games. And basketball isn't like going into a fight, and somebody can beat you up. We're not going to be afraid of them.''
In replacing Barnes, who is expected to sign elsewhere, Richardson is giving the Magic a better shooter, bigger scoring threat and a defender who is about the same. And like many around the league, he is more curious about Miami's Big Three -- and how they will come together -- than worried about them.
"I'll have to wait and see,'' he said when asked for his Miami analysis.
Earlier this month the Magic signed Chris Duhon to be their backup point guard, replacing Jason Williams.
"Our objective (this summer) is to keep hitting singles,'' said Magic general manager Otis Smith. "This was another single. Our goal is still to win an NBA title.''
The Magic last season won 59 games, but they lost to the Boston Celtics in the conference final. Despite the splash Miami made by adding James and Bosh, the Magic still believe they will be battling for a spot in the NBA Finals next spring.
Smith said Tuesday they still are considering whether to match the offer sheet of three years, $19 million to keep restricted free agent J.J. Redick from leaving for Chicago. Richardson, though, is the player most likely to be matched up against James when the two teams meet.
"The biggest thing we'll have going is the big fellow (center Dwight Howard). He's one guy nobody can match up with,'' Richardson said. "That played a huge part in me coming here. Dwight is the one guy, when he's locked in, no one will have an answer for."