Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Sixers Extend The Process: JJ Redick and Amir Johnson come to town

Please Don't Squeeze The TJ
So in yet another sign that The Mood Is About To Change in Philadelphia, my basketball laundry went out and made a couple of expensive but thoroughly useful one-year rentals. Coming to town is shooting guard JJ Redick from the Clippers, and big man Amir Johnson from the Celtics, both on one-year overpay deals that, well, Are Just Swell.

Let's start with Redick. He's a thoroughly capable 2-guard in today's NBA, an elite level shooter who is also not horrible at defense, ball handling or passing. He's past his prime, but not so much that it's a significant problem, and he's also going to the easier conference. On a team with willing passers and penetrators, and with the potential of best-in-class defensive anchor Joel Embiid behind him, he's going to be no problem at all on defense, and a guy that historically makes open threes often enough to be part of 50+ win teams in the West.

He's also a guy who was a stud in college, then a role player coming out, who has steadily rebuilt his body and game to compete at the highest level. He's not really a star, but he's better than 2/3rds of the guys that start at his position in the NBA, and he immediately injects a very necessary dose of veteran leadership into the Sixers' kiddie corps.

Even more important, honestly, is what the Redick signing signifies. Philadelphia is no longer a Siberia where no desirable free agent would ever dare to explore, or a place where winning is not an expected Process result. Redick chose Philadelphia over several other suitors, sent out a Trust The Process tweet, and fits in this lineup damn near perfectly. The Sixers won't have to hope for the shaky three balls of Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas next year as the fifth option on the floor in crunch time; instead, Redick will be getting into comfortable spots outside of an Embiid double team, taking the feed from a Ben Simmons dish, giving Markelle Faultz space. On a team that will also have Dario Saric doing lots of stuff, and even the useful stylings of Richaun Holmes (check out the big man's numbers from distance!), he adds depth for when others are having an off night.

Oh, and he also has a decent injury history, and the club didn't mess up any of its long-term cap room for locking down the young guns to long-term deals. It's just, well, perfect.

As for Johnson, the guy that wore his jersey a few years ago in Toronto is more useful than the guy who does that now, and it's a little worrisome that the Celtic rebounding numbers were so poor with him and Al Horford last year. But what you are getting from Amir is toughness -- useful when NBA vets play old man tricks on the team next year to get them off their composure -- and I suspect that being near Embiid will make him a hell of a lot more effective than being near Horford. If he does nothing more than suit up as an Elton Brand who can play next year, it'll be money well spent.

With the moves, the odds on the Sixers winning the NBA championship next year -- in a world, we presume, where there is a massive combination of good fortune on health, breakout seasons from a number of young guys, and some kind of zombie outbreak in the Bay Area -- dropped nicely. I wouldn't bet on them to be playing meaningful basketball in June myself....

But April? April is looking more and more likely.

And maybe even May...

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