Sixers Sign Free Agents J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Remember when people called Philadelphia a toxic culture of losing where no quality players would want to come? Nobody’s saying that now after the news Saturday that the Sixers have signed J.J. Redick, the top unrestricted free agent shooting guard on the market, to a 1 year, $23M deal.

The deal is mutually beneficial for both sides. Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo is only seeking one year deals this summer in order to retain cap flexibility and make a big splash in free agency in 2018 and 2019. For Redick, this is easily the biggest payday of his career; the $7.4M he made last season was previously the most he had ever made in a year. Redick reportedly turned down long-term deals from both the Timberwolves and the Nets, showing Philadelphia is a place players want to come. Per NBA news wizard Woj, “Redick has long been intrigued by signing with the Sixers, impressed with the franchise’s young talent and enthusiastic about playing for coach Brett Brown.”

Aside from his veteran presence, the 33-year-old Redick brings much-needed spacing to the Sixers offensively. His 41.5% career mark from three is 14th-best all-time, and crucially, for a team that will be funneling the ball to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz, Redick does most his damage without the ball in his hands.

Imagine a defender having to decide whether to stick to one of the best three-point shooters of all time or help his teammate deal with a 7’3″ freak of nature pump-faking and the three-point line and barreling down the lane. Or run through multiple screens chasing Redick while a 6’10” point guard with tremendous court vision and extraordinary passing ability surveys the court unimpeded. Redick is going to help take the pressure off those guys and allow them to create without as much attention directed toward them, while in turn, they’ll generate plenty of open looks for him. It’s a match made in heaven.

Meanwhile, Bryan Colangelo wasn’t done Saturday, also signing 6’9″ big man Amir Johnson to a 1 year, $11M contract. Unlike the Redick signing, this is less of a perfect fit between the two parties. Johnson’s game has fallen off recently, likely due to some recurring ankle woes that have hampered his play on the court. He has also started no fewer than 72 games in any of the last four regualr seasons. How big of a role is he expecting to receive when the Sixers already have Joel Embiid and Richaun Holmes at center and Ben Simmons and Dario Saric at power forward?

Still, Johnson is a good locker room guy, plays solid defense, sets good screens, and brings a modicum of floor stretching ability as a big man (career 34.0% from three). Having him aboard reminds me of last year’s Gerald Henderson signing; it’s something I can’t really bring myself to care about one way or another. Now, if Johnson being on the roster suddenly means Brett Brown is constantly playing guys like Simmons or Saric out of position, then we have a problem.

Even after these two deals, the Sixers will still have around $15M in cap space. Speculation is that the space is earmarked for a Robert Covington extension sometime in 2017, which is music to my ears. As for this season, the Sixers can run out a starting lineup of Markelle Fultz, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid, with Dario Saric and a host of both veterans and up-and-coming youngsters coming off the bench. If that doesn’t scream playoff team in a watered-down Eastern Conference, I don’t know what does.

Even J.J. Redick knows now. You have to…

 


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