JJ Redick will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. But on exit day for the 76ers, he sure sounded as if he will be back next season, which is no surprise considering his leadership and production.
Even though he will turn 34 next month, Redick believes he has plenty left in his basketball career.
Those were the two main points that came out as Redick summed up his season Thursday. The Sixers were eliminated in five games during the Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 114-112 loss to the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday night.
Last offseason, Redick signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the Sixers after spending the previous four years with the Los Angeles Clippers. Redick averaged career highs in scoring during the regular season (17.1 points) and playoffs (18.2). In the Boston series, he struggled against a defense intent on cutting down his open looks, averaging 16.4 points but shooting 34.2 percent from three-point range. Redick had shot 46 percent in the regular season.
As for coming back next season, Redick hinted strongly that he will return.
“I think it is a mutual appreciation,” he said at the team’s Camden practice facility, where the players held exit interviews and faced the media. “I am sure we all hope I am back.”
Of course, at this early juncture, Redick can’t say for sure.
“The numbers can get tricky,” he said. “It is not my job to worry about that. I will let [Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo], my agent, and the events over the next two months play out, and we will make a decision.”
Redick is excited about the Sixers’ future.
“I think we always have some [salary] cap space,” Redick said. “Bryan and the front office, I am sure, will look to improve the roster.”
Then Redick suggested the benefit of keeping much of the team intact.
“There is also something to be said for continuity,” Redick said. “So while trying to improve the roster, sort of bringing back as many guys as possible.”
Few players take care of their bodies as well as the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Redick. Because of that, he doesn’t see his career winding down.
“I feel like I have my best years after 30,” he said. “I feel like there are still ways to get better.”
The statistics back up Redick’s assessment. In the four seasons since he turned 30, he has averaged 16.4 points and shot 43.9 percent from three-point range. For his career, he is averaging 12.4 points and shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“I feel I pick up something every year in regards to my body and recovery,” he said. “In that regard, I still feel like I am in the prime of my career. How long that lasts, I don’t know, but I feel I can play at a high level for another five years.”
Point guard Ben Simmons, the likely rookie of the year, said teaming with Redick was special.
“From day one to now, I improved a lot by him teaching me how to get shooters open, where they want the ball, what I need to help him get open, what he needs to help me get open, and we learned a lot from each other,” Simmons said. “He was a huge part of my first year.”
This was Redick’s 12th NBA season and, he said, his most memorable.
“This was probably my favorite year of my career,” he said. “Playing in Philly is its own experience.”
He connected immensely with fans.
“And our fans, the city, the buzz about sports and about this team was amazing,” he said. “I think I said this on media day — this is the first time I would play in a real sports town — and it definitely lived up to those thoughts. It was awesome to play in Philly.”