Mon. Sep 28th, 2020

As J.J. Redick prepares for a winter filled with trade rumors, it’s clear leaving the Philadelphia 76ers was the worst decision of his career.

If you’d have told me one day prior to the start of free agency that J.J. Redick would sign with the worst team in the NBA over an extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, I’d have called you crazy.

Sure, I guess anything is possible – who could have predicted Josh Richardson would end up a Sixer? – but Redick, leaving a potential title contender to live in New Orleans? Zion or no Zion that just didn’t track.

I mean, were talking about a guy who outright stated he’d like to finish out his career in the City of Brotherly Love sandwiched between signing two very lucrative one-year deals.

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He loved Joel Embiid. He live Brett Brown. He even took a pay cut to stay in 2018-19. Why would he want to leave?

Well, leave he did, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that decision will go down as the worst of his career.

In hindsight, any time a player opts to leave a championship contender for a team on pace for 20 wins is a horrid decision, but even in the moment, one has to wonder why exactly the Sixers let their best shooter walk for an average salary of about $13 million a year?

First, the money.

While it’s hard to argue that the Pelicans offered more money over more years than anything Elton Brand was willing to shell out, were the two offers really that disparate? The Sixers had Early Bird Rights over Redick after two consecutive seasons with the organization, so in theory, they could have extended their top shooting guard to a contract that fits those parameters – worth as much as $21 million per season.

Granted, Redick’s deal wouldn’t actually cost the Sixers his cap hit, as the team would be even further above the cap if all else were to remain the same, but does that really matter? At 35, Redick’s playing window is roughly congruent with the Sixers current championship window, why not splurge for one of the top sharpshooters in the NBA?

If everything was timed correctly, the Sixers could have still signed Al Horford as a free agent, and still sign-and-traded for Richardson using cap space. If everyone was on the same page, it all could have worked out fine.

But maybe it wasn’t the price Redick scoffed at. Maybe instead it was Redick’s potential role on a re-tooled lineup that gave him pause?

You see, after initially starting the 2018-19 season as a reserve following a short-lived and frankly bizarre stretch of Markelle Fultz starts, Redick ended up starting 63 games and put up his best statistical season as a pro. Maybe after reaching such great heights – higher than any he’d experienced over his then-13-year career – Redick didn’t want to shift into a sixth man role behind Richardson. While Redick’s presence may have influenced the Sixers to instead opt to acquire a player like Justise Winslow from the Heat in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade, it’s clear Richardson has a better objective fit with the team’s new bully ball brand of basketball.

For everything Redick does well on the court, he’s never been an even average defender.

In New Orleans, Redick gets to start. In New Orleans, Redick gets to take 7.3 3 pointers a game and continue to rise up the all-time record books. And in New Orleans, Redick will all but surely see his career-spanning playoff streak come to an end.

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While we may never know what the Philadelphia 76ers were willing to offer J.J. Redick back in June – three-years, for $20 million according to an anonymous Liberty Ballers source – one has to wonder if Philly’s former favorite son really got what he signed up for as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. If not, he may have an escape via the 2020 trade deadline; too bad Elton Brand can’t afford to bring number 17 back.