June 30, 2019
JJ Redick is leaving the Sixers to sign a two year, $26.5 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, a source confirmed to PhillyVoice on Sunday evening. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news.
While most assumed the Sixers might be able to wait around on Redick as they figured out the fate of their max-level free agents, Redick clearly did not want to wait around in the hopes of getting a fair deal from the Sixers. He has openly discussed his last go-round in free agency on his podcast and through other mediums, and when the Sixers pursued LeBron James last summer, Redick came close to departing Philadelphia for greener (quite literally) pastures.
This time, he took the biggest offer he could find as soon as it presented itself, and it's hard to begrudge a player nearing the end of his NBA rope for prioritizing the biggest possible payday he could get.
Where does this leave the Sixers? In a tough spot, frankly. Theoretically, it's not especially difficult to find good shooters anymore because of the premium that has been placed on that skill. If you can replace Redick with a shooter that offers switchability, you might even be able to talk yourself into thinking you've upgraded.
(Keep an eye on Toronto's Danny Green in that regard. He has connections to Brett Brown from their Spurs days, and he fits the mold of a replacement/defensive upgrade on Redick in the same position. Whether they can outbid other teams that suddenly have an abundance of cap space is another story.)
The context that leaves out is Redick's importance to the offense these last couple of years. With Ben Simmons not a threat to shoot and Joel Embiid needing a floor spacing around him while working from the post, there are few players in the league who would have been able to do as well as Redick did to create space for the big man. Their two-man game was often their most reliable offense, and Redick's perpetual motion kept defenders distracted for long enough to buy the big man time on the block.
Many of the options to step into that role either won't offer the same amount of movement or will be downgrades as shooters generally. And then you have to factor in candidates going off of the board before the Sixers even had a chance to bid – Orlando's Terrence Ross signed a sizable extension with the Magic at the beginning of free agency, in spite of some rumblings about Philadelphia's interest in him.
In one way or another, the Sixers are going to have to replace Redick's impact on their offense. It doesn't have to be through pure shooting and could be accomplished with better playmaking, more juice off of the dribble, or even some size and athleticism to improve on defense, but given the need for shooting around Embiid and Simmons, they are going to need to find someone to fill the elite shooter role, or spacing could get cramped real quick.
(It would have helped to keep Landry Shamet around, obviously, and I'm sure that trade for Harris will get re-litigated repeatedly before the offseason is over. Scratch that, before Sunday is over.)
One more thing to consider: this might not be the best vote of confidence for the "run it back" crowd, because if the Sixers were confident they were bringing back Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler, you would imagine they would have already had some things lined up with Redick. Perhaps this money was too good to pass up either way, but it's a warning sign at the very least.
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