Redick is out and we continue to wait for the best Clippers team

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Redick has a bulging disc in his back and will be out indefinitely. The Clippers have only had their top eight players available for eight of 55 games this season, and we'll have to keep waiting to see them at full strength.

When J.J. Redick met with the media before the All Star break, you could tell something was not right. From the time that Doc Rivers pulled him out of the lineup during the shootaround before the Miami game, he'd been listed as day-to-day. My impression up to that point was that he was just a little tweaked and that he could return to action at any moment. And that was still the semi-official story even then -- he wouldn't play in the Portland game, but with some rest over the All Star break, he'd no doubt be ready to go when the season started back up. But something didn't feel right. He seemed to know it was more serious than that.

Then Rivers made a perfunctory statement that Redick was not going to play against the Spurs before the team had even practiced on Monday after the All Star game. Clearly he knew something at that point.

Finally on Tuesday the other shoe dropped. Redick has a bulging disc in his back.

Redick will be out three weeks. Or is it five weeks? Or is it indefinitely?

Honestly, the question isn't how long he'll be out per se. The question is whether he'll be completely healthy when he plays. Back trouble is not to be taken lightly -- I know from experience. He might be able to get a cortisone shot and hobble through some games, but that's not in his interests nor in the team's interests. Shutting him down now gives the Clippers the best chance of having him 100% when it really matters, so that's what they're doing. Honestly, it could be as little as a week before he's feeling great. But the team is not taking any chances.

Redick's injury is a classic case of compensating for one problem leading to other issues. A while back (I don't even remember what game now) he banged his knee. He played through that injury because the team was already shorthanded in the back court with Chris Paul out, and inadvertently Redick injured his hip while running wrong on the injured knee. Playing through the hip pain thew his back out of alignment and led to the disc issue.

And here we are, 56 games into the season, and the Clippers have only had their top eight players in uniform for eight games -- and neither Matt Barnes nor Jared Dudley were exactly 100% even for those eight. For the last 40 games they've been missing one or both of their starting guards -- and now that's going to be the case for at least another ten games or more.

The feeling has been that the Clippers were on the verge of playing their best basketball, with their strongest roster and a full grasp of Rivers' systems, at any moment. Redick had only recently returned from a more definitive injury -- a broken hand -- a few weeks ago, and the feeling was that when Paul returned, the team would finally be whole. But just before Paul was healthy, Redick went out again, this time "indefinitely". "Indefinitely" is a cruel word for a fanbase that has already waited almost three months to see this team together.

If Redick is ready for the postseason and the rest of the team can remain healthy, then "injuries now" is better than the alternative, "injuries later". The team has shown that it can withstand regular season injuries (at least on the perimeter; not so sure that's the case inside).

Jamal Crawford is about as good a backup shooting guard as you'd want to have. And Willie Green is competent (though he's a little banged up right now as well). And Rivers isn't afraid to play Darren Collison next to Paul at times. And Reggie Bullock is ready for some more minutes.

I don't personally feel like Redick's injury has any impact on the team's thinking at the trade deadline (unless the news is worse than they're letting on). I think the Darren Collison-for-Iman Shumpert talk was inevitable at some level, regardless of Redick's status. The Knicks have been trying to move Shumpert all year; they want help at the point; the Clippers have a guy backing up Chris Paul who was great in a starting role while Paul was hurt; so yeah, a conversation is going to happen.

If they don't make a deal for backcourt help, they may use additional 10 day contracts to provide it, but it would be unwise to burn a permanent roster spot on the backcourt. The team will continue to get by with their existing perimeter depth, and they'll be competitive every night, despite the missing Redick.

And we'll continue to wait patiently for the Clippers to finally be at full strength.

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