In desperate need of perimeter shooting, perhaps the Philadelphia 76ers look to a former sniper whose current situation hasn’t panned out.
After a flurry of moves once again altered the structure of their roster, the Philadelphia 76ers have for the most part been the team everyone expected them to be this season, at least at the defensive end.
Their 19-7 record is good for third-best in the Eastern Conference, where an over-sized starting lineup has them fourth in defensive rating and third in opponents points per game.
The offense is a different story. Whatever shred of floor spacing Philly had last year was sacrificed for size and length over the summer, shrinking the court and making it difficult for the Sixers to function with consistency.
They are a modest 12th in offensive rating, but 20th in 3-point makes per game and just 27th in attempts. The clunky fit only worsens in crunch time, when defenses can sink deeper into the paint, resulting in 12th-fewest points per game and the second-to-last spot in 3-point makes as well.
Philly needs shooting to create some semblance of balance even in the most mundane of moments. It always has in the Ben Simmons–Joel Embiid era, which has seen a revolving door of options from Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova to Mike Muscala and Landry Shamet.
Of the many snipers to have come through Philadelphia, only one managed to stick out in a significant way. He’s no longer a Sixer, but circumstances surrounding his new home open the door to a possible reunion.
More from Hoops Habit
The New Orleans Pelicans weren’t the title contenders J.J. Redick has grown accustomed to in recent years, but the 13-year veteran inked a two-year deal under this past summer the assumption he’d help nurture a talented young core to a state of consistent competitiveness.
Injuries have hit several parts of the Pelicans roster, most notably No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, but New Orleans has still fallen short of expectations with the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
Redick, on the other hand, is draining a career-best 3.3 3-pointers per game with his highest percentage — 44.8 percent — in four years. He still manages to send defenses into a state of chaos with constant movement, but at 35 years of age, that can only continue for so long.
He had unquestionably his best years bolting off Embiid’s screens, shooting 40.7 percent from distance with 17.2 points per game across two seasons in Philly.
The two had one of the better two-man net ratings a season ago among duos with over 1,000 minutes and much doesn’t need to be said in the name of Ben Simmons, who needs every inch of spacing he can get.
The Western Conference, meanwhile, has proven too strong for New Orleans to rebound from this tough start for any type of playoff push, rendering Redick’s on-court contributions relatively meaningless this season.
For the services that won’t be put to as good a use as previously thought, why not obtain a package highlighted by Zhaire Smith, the former 16th overall pick who hasn’t seen a minute of action at the back of Philly’s rotation?
At just 20 years old, he’s young enough to fit the Zion timeline with some high upside to experiment alongside the core of promising talent already on the roster.
Throw in salary fillers like Kyle O’Quinn and Raul Neto and possibly a first-round pick — Philly has one from the Oklahoma City Thunder as well as several second-rounders in 2020 — and there’s a framework for a potential deal.
The Pelicans could also then use the 13 million hole in their salary cap however they see fit, whether that includes signing a different veteran like Redick or stockpiling assets even more with a trade.
Redick was the perfect complement in his two-year stay in Philadelphia, an elite off-ball presence whose command of defenses is magnetic in the attraction he draws.
He’s the type of player that’s needed now more than ever given the state of the roster, and the perfect opportunity seems to have arisen for the Sixers to elevate their championship hopes by bringing him back.