In 2019-20, the Philadelphia 76ers found out the hard way just how tough it is to win in the NBA without a lights-out shooter.
Sure, newly minted GM Elton Brand attempted to mitigate the loss of J.J. Redick in free agency with the additions of Trey Burke, James Ennis, and Al Horford, plus a sign-and-trade for Josh Richardson – in a throwback-style of team building that will forever perplex fans in the greater Delaware Valley – but none of it worked out well enough to make a legitimate difference.
Stoppage or no stoppage, the Sixers weren’t making it out of the East, let alone the first round, with the roster Brand constructed and an offseason filled with pretty massive re-tooling was the only way to get things back on track.
So naturally, when Daryl Morey usurped power away from Brand, the first thing he did was add proven, veteran shooting via a pair of offseason trades; securing the rights to Seth Curry and Danny Green for a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and some additional considerations.
Did it work? Largely so; if anything, one could argue that Morey should have done more to attack the market and procure top-tier talent around Joel Embiid, but in a league where shooters get paid very, very handsomely for their efforts, 2019-20 should serve as a cautionary tale as to how not to build a winner in 2021.
But with Green looking incredibly likely to leave in free agency and only Georges Niang inbounds to help fill his shooting responsibilities, maybe the Sixers should look back at the last time they came a game away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Maybe they should try to persuade J.J. Redick to make his triumphant return to the City of Brotherly Love on a veteran minimum deal.
Rotating Curry, Korkmaz, and Redick would be fantastic for the Philadelphia 76ers.
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Whether the Philadelphia 76ers secure a massive get via trade, land more complementary pieces via their exceptions, or simply wade out free agency with a whimper, they could always use more shooting.
Employing a solid swash of 3 point shooting assassins makes Joel Embiid’s life easier in the paint, gives point guards like Tyrese Maxey a few more options to kick out to on a drive, and most importantly of all, allows a head coach to rotate in and out the hot hand throughout a game to keep his offense potent for a full 48 minutes.
And, for what it’s worth, J.J. Redick is still one of the best shooters the NBA has to offer, even at the tender age of 37.
A career 41.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Redick averaged double-digit points for a decade straight between 2010-20, and through a series of location changes that would surely make a lesser player’s head spin, the all-time great Dukie remained a formidable shooter capable of making his team better at every stop on his NBA journey.
Let’s just say when you make the playoffs in every one of your first 13 NBA seasons; you have to be doing something right.
But do you know where Redick was at his best among his six NBA stops? Yeah, that’d be the Philadelphia 76ers, where he formed a fantastic two-man game alongside a still-developing superstar center by the name of Joel Embiid.
Ever heard of him?
In two years of action with the red, white, and blue, Redick averaged 17.6 points in 30.8 minutes of action a night, while draining 40.7 percent of his 7.3 3 pointers per game. While Redick wasn’t much of a force on the defensive end of the court, as he’d never really been at any point in his career, Brett Brown was largely able to showcase his shooting on the offensive end of the court while keeping him hidden on defense thanks to a quality wing rotation featuring players like Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, T.J. McConnell, and Jimmy Butler.
Redick made many a fan in his abbreviated tenure with the team because of his verbal appreciation for the city, his tell-all podcast with The Ringer, and for being a good teammate in the locker room, with Embiid going so far as to say he wished the duo could play together for the rest of their careers.
The idea obviously wouldn’t work, as Redick is a decade older than Embiid and may call it a career before Embiid hits 30, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.
After a decent enough debut season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Redick had a pretty brutal 2020-21 season in the Big Easy lowlighted by basically career-low numbers across the board and was shipped out to the Dallas Mavericks in the hopes of adding spacing to Luka Doncic’s offensive attack.
That move, like basically everything else for Redick in 2020-21, didn’t quite work out for Philly’s former favorite sharpshooter, and now, the Brooklyn resident finds himself with the worst perception of his career and a veteran minimum contract in his future for the forthcoming season, assuming, of course, he decides to keep playing professionally.
While linking up with the Lakers is a move many have surmised is a solid spot, fans in the know, um, know that Redick is an East Coast dude who wants to remain close to his DUMBO-living family in Brooklyn. With that in mind, why not bring things back to the City of Brotherly Love, link back up with Embiid, and play 20-ish minutes a night for Doc Rivers once more.
With Seth Curry and Furkan Korkmaz already in place, in addition to Shake Milton and his position versatility, folding Redick into the fray would give the Sixers a third 40-plus percent 3 point shooter to space the field and provide support from the wing. At 37, he likely wouldn’t require a ton of playing time a night to remain happy, assuming the team allows him to kick it over to Kensington Square for brunch from time to time, and at this point, may just be one of the few remaining East Coast free agency landing spots that’s a logical fit for his services for the forthcoming season.
I’m not saying Redick is going to be the difference between a second-round out and a trip to the Finals, even in his prime, he wasn’t that caliber of player, but in an Association where a rolled ankle could be the difference between a second and fifth playoff seed, having an additional veteran marksman at your disposal is about as good an insurance policy as you’ll find.
No matter what the Sixers decide to do with their roster moving forward, there should be a spot on the roster for Redick.
In hindsight, I don’t think J.J. Redick would have left the Philadelphia 76ers if he knew just how poorly things would turn out in New Orleans. No, I imagine he would have accepted whatever offer was on the table, or at the very least tried to negotiate up a better offer by reaching out to other East Coast camps in the hopes of making good on his word that he’d like to retire in the City of Brotherly Love. But since there’s nothing we can do about the past – if there was, Jimmy Butler would be a member of the Philadelphia 76ers right now – at least the two sides could reconvene and make right their wrong a few years later. It seems to be working out for the Boston Celtics, who are so committed to their reunion tour that they’ve floated the idea of bringing back Isaiah Thomas.