July 02, 2017
Only a few minutes after the Sixers drafted Markelle Fultz, Brett Brown spelled out the team’s strategy in the upcoming free agency period. Like, exactly what they were going to do.
“Trying to identify veterans that have the ability to nurture and help those three, especially, is one of the main priorities,” Brown said. “We will never go away from the need for shooters. When you look at Ben and you look at Joel [Embiid] and you look at Markelle [Fultz], when you say, ‘What’s the common denominator that on the court can help them succeed best?’ It’s space. It’s clear, it’s space. And with that comment, if you can have a hybrid of both worlds, you look at veteran shooters, people that can come in and provide that type of leadership.”
Veteran shooting was at the top of the Sixers’ wish list, and they were able to get the best of both worlds in agreeing to a contract with J.J. Redick on Saturday afternoon.
The one condition that Brown left out last week was that the Sixers were looking for a rental. More specifically, they wanted to keep the books clean for 2018 with big-money, short-term contracts. Despite reporting that he was fetching multi-year offers from both Minnesota (another exciting young core, now plus Jimmy Butler!) and Brooklyn (not an exciting young core, but where he owns a pretty sweet pad!), Redick signed in Philly for one year and $23 million.
JJ Redick on agreement with 76ers: "It's where I wanted to be."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2017
As we wrote about heading into free agency, limiting the term on any and every contract would be critical for the Sixers. In other words, the years were more important than the dollars. I wouldn’t have argued vehemently against any deal than ran two years in length, but it seems like Bryan Colangelo and the front office made it a point to keep the powder dry for next year’s free agency. More power to them.
“How in the world can J.J. Redick make $23 million per year? He’s overpaid!”
Yeah, yeah, that’s assuredly true in a vacuum, but the Sixers are a team with unique needs that Redick will address. As weird as it sounds at $23 million, getting the former Clippers sniper to agree to a one-year contract is a borderline coup. It allows the Sixers to accomplish both their short-term goal (developing Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as players) at the same time as their long-term goal (finding a premium free agent to round out that core).
This isn’t to say I agreed with everything the Sixers did on Saturday. I do wonder what signing Amir Johnson for $11 million accomplishes, specifically how it affects a Robert Covington renegotiation and extension now that the Sixers are down to about $15 million in cap space. But as far as Redick (One D, people of Twitter!) is concerned, the Sixers had a sound strategy and they sure executed it.
Let’s be clear here: Redick and the Sixers probably aren’t competing for anything of consequence next season, even in the watered-down Eastern Conference. They might even be favored to make the playoffs at this point, but player development will still rule the day. Specifically, the development of Fultz, Embiid, and Simmons is critical.
Just as Brown said, those guys need space to do the special things they’re capable of with the basketball in their hands. And Redick is an elite floor spacer, shooting a combined 45 percent from three over the past three seasons:
• According to NBA.com, Redick shot 44.9 percent arc on four catch-and-shoot three-pointers per game last season.
• Redick isn’t strictly a spot-up shooter either, as a solid portion of his offense comes off screens. Per Synergy, he used 339 possessions running off screens last season, good for third in the NBA behind Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal.
• Defenses have to account for Redick in their game plan. When looking at how often he is left open from beyond the arc compared to the rest of the league’s three-point shooters, it’s not very frequently.
Those are just a few numbers that measure some of Redick’s offensive impact, but here are some others: 1, 1, 3, and 4. They are the Clippers’ offensive rankings from the past four seasons. And while having the Point God and DeAndre Jordan running pick-and-roll was the main reason for that level of efficiency, don’t underestimate the spacing that a shooter like Redick provided those two guys and also Blake Griffin.
"‘What’s the common denominator that on the court can help them succeed best?’ It’s space. It’s clear, it’s space. And with that comment, if you can have a hybrid of both worlds, you look at veteran shooters."
The Sixers’ offensive ranking the last four seasons by the way? 30, 30, 30, and you guessed it… 30. This group needs to make serious improvements on offense and that is precisely where Redick comes in. He should provide the Sixers young core with the same room to operate that CP3 had. And if defenses leave Redick to help for a split second, Simmons and Fultz are more than capable of putting the ball in his hands for a triple.
Redick certainly has limitations. Even though he has developed into an excellent team defender, a Redick-Fultz backcourt would not be particularly stout in 2017-18 (and that may be putting it lightly). But the Sixers already have plus defenders in Covington and Embiid in the starting lineup. What they needed was a knockdown shooter and Redick certainly is that.
Many will always remember Redick as the guy that everyone hated at Duke. A decade later, he’s now rightfully being sold as a veteran locker room presence. For the Sixers in free agency, Redick provides a nice fit at the right price.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann
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