Acquiring J.J. Redick in free agency was the top priority for the 76ers in July. Now, the priority is getting the sharpshooting guard and his teammates familiar with one another on the court.
If Sunday’s scrimmage was any indication, that’s still a work in progress.
Redick looked more like a veteran brought in for vocal leadership than someone signed to a one-year, $23 million deal to make shots. The Sixers had a hard time getting him involved on offense. As a result, he basically took a back seat to Ben Simmons, Furkan Korkmaz and Markelle Fultz.
“I’m not a guy who has the ball in his hands a ton,” said Redick, who spent the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. “I’m not a ball-dominant player. So I can’t just go to a new situation and have it be the same as it was my previous place.
“I’m just trying to figure it out.”
The Sixers hope to make improvements in time for their season opener at Washington on Oct. 18. And it’s not something that was realistically expected to be perfected in the Sixers’ weeklong training camp. Coach Brett Brown thinks teams with several new players need a third of a season to figure things out.
“As it relates to how long does it take us to get J.J. the ball coming off screens, I hope it’s a helluva a lot sooner than that number I just said,” Brown said. “But in general, you start getting into a rhythm after [the first third], like we did in January [last season].”
But the Sixers point guards need to learn where Redick wants to receive the ball. The 33-year-old isn’t one of those just-throw-it-up-and-I’ll-get-it athletes. So Simmons, Fultz and T.J. McConnell have to make sure their passes are in the right spot.
Redick sounds optimistic that will happen. He and Simmons even went over certain situations while on the bench during the scrimmage.
“That’s the only thing that’s kind of been weird this week is, you know, just kind of dealing with the unfamiliar,” Redick said of being with new teammates. “It’s actually been kind of fun, but it’s been surreal at times to kind of go through a different camp with a different program, and obviously, the on-court stuff is new to me.
“So it’s been great.”
The Sixers desperately needed a spot-up shooter to put alongside Simmons, Fultz, and Joel Embiid, and Redick has become one of the best spot-up shooters in the NBA. The 12th-year veteran averaged 15.8 points overall and 44.0 percent shooting on three-pointers for the Clippers over the past four seasons.
He also exhausts opponents with constant motion on offense. The Sixers will look for that to create space for Embiid on the block and allow Fultz to get more open looks. And Redick is a dream teammate for a pass-happy player such as Simmons.
“We’re not even close to where we could be,” Simmons said of playing with Redick. “It’s exciting, though. I’m learning a lot from him. Keep-it-simple things. The way he comes off a pick, where he wants the ball.
“But once the season comes, I think we’ll be pretty good.”
For now, Brown, assistant coaches Billy Lange and Lloyd Pierce, and “a bunch” of players are helping with Redick adjust to his new team, he said. He’s been asking teammates, “Is this what we normally do? Should I expect this?”
“Again, you get used to doing things a certain way,” Redick said. “You go to a new situation, and you just sort of have to adjust and figure it out.”