J.J. Redick was an unrestricted free agent at the beginning of the summer, but ended up with the Clippers as part of the three-team trade with the Bucks and the Suns that landed Jared Dudley in L.A., and Eric Bledoe and Caron Butler in Phoenix.
The Suns later traded Butler to Milwaukee in a separate deal for some young assets, so it makes the Bucks losing Redick after trading for him last season a bit more palatable.
It appears now, though, that Redick was never likely to re-sign in Milwaukee. He wanted to play for a contender all along, and says he’s always played his best when the pressure was on.
“Going back to the week or so we were getting this deal done during free agency, I mentioned to [Clippers head coach] Doc [Rivers] that I wanted to be in this situation because there was going to be pressure, because there was going to be expectations,” Redick said. “I feel like when I look back at my career I’ve always done better and I’ve always been happier when there’s more expectation and more pressure.”
Redick will get his wish, but only to a certain extent.
The Clippers had high expectations last season, too, but were largely let off the hook by local and national media alike after collapsing in the first round of the playoffs. L.A. took a 2-0 series lead over the Grizzlies, before dropping the next four on their way to an embarrassing exit. Vinny Del Negro took essentially all of the blame for that one, and with Rivers now roaming the sidelines, it would be tough to see something similar unfolding next season.
The Clippers will be good, and should be a top-four team in the Western Conference. But there are evident flaws with the squad on paper, and it isn’t as though a title is expected in Clipperland anytime soon. The expectations are only there to a finite point, but wherever that line is, it’s much closer to a championship than it would have been in Milwaukee, so from that standpoint, Redick chose wisely.