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2016-17 Clippers Exit Interviews: J.J., You Beautiful Bastard, We’ll Miss You

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The least heralded of the “Core Four” is also the most likely to depart this summer. We remember the good times—aka those times Joe Ingles wasn’t up his butt.

Name: Jonathan Clay “J.J.” Redick.

Nicknames: “Bubs.” “Bae.” “General Cheekbones.” “Exhibit A in the Joe Ingles For DPOY Campaign.”

Years in NBA: 11

Age: 32. Turns 33 in June. But your girlfriend keeps saying some gray would just make him look more distinguished.

Key Stats: 15.0/2.2/1.4 (points, rebounds, assists) per game on 45/43/89% shooting. Averaged 28 minutes per game over 78 games played. True shooting percentage of 60%.

Playoff Stats: Mysteriously, these have been redacted from Basketball-Reference. I don’t know if it’s related, but I also I received this in the mail once I was assigned JJ’s exit interview.

2016-17 Salary: $7.4 million.

Future Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent.

Summary: While falling short of the Korver-esque heights he reached last year when he led the league in three-point percentage, J.J. delivered precisely what was asked of him during the 2016-17 regular season. His sharp-shooting from deep—fourth-best in the league among players with at least 300 attempts—not only provided the spacing so desperately needed for a team with such a jumper-challenged frontcourt. In yet another year with significant injuries to Chris and Blake, J.J. poured in buckets when he had to, wreaking havoc off back screens and pin downs and the surprisingly rare open-look in transition. Defensively, JJ did what he always did—played smart team defense, tried hard, and prayed every opposing team had a Tony Allen he could hide on that night.

Clipper Nation will always have a soft spot for J.J., the least appreciated member of the “Core Four” whose regular-season brilliance truly merited inclusion with DJ, Blake, and Chris. True Clipper fans know that the team’s consistently excellent offensive numbers the past four years (and especially in the 2015 and 2016 seasons) had a great deal to do with Redick’s shooting. At his best, he was a poor man’s Klay Thompson. No, J.J. was never going to drop 60 on you—but he could drop 30 any given night and really fuck up your defensive gameplan.

But J.J.’s importance to the Clippers can also be painted with a darker hue. Redick has underperformed in the playoffs each of the past three postseasons—and the Clippers have underperformed along with him. The numbers aren’t actually as bad as you might think—JJ has shot 39% from deep and 44% from the field in his playoff career as a Clipper, compared to 44% and 47% during the regular season. Part of that differential is the natural tightening of open looks in the postseason, part of that is injury (in 2016 he played through a bad ankle), and part of that is just Kawhi Leonard’s giant fucking hands.

Some Clipper fans can’t help thinking, if we just had a few more vintage J.J. performances in the OKC series or the Houston series or the Utah series, things might have turned out differently. Once Blake broke his toe, the biggest story of the Jazz series was just how completely Utah and Joe Ingles shut down Redick. With the exception of Game 5, JJ looked like he contracted playoff-Harden syndrome—turning the ball over for no reason, passing up open looks, clanging jumpers that would normally fall. Ingles’ reach and physicality clearly bothered Redick--coming off screens, JJ would take an extra dribble or two to make sure Ingles couldn’t sideswipe his shot. It got to the point where Clipper fans were audibly groaning when Redick tried to dribble into the paint, awaiting the inevitable turnover.

It’s a shame that may be the last of image of Redick in a Clipper uniform. J.J. was a marvelous player, and along with DJ one of the more surprisingly likable Clippers in the Chris Paul-era. With his podcast and surprisingly candid interviews, J.J. shed most of the douchebagy bro image that seemed to be permanently affixed to him from his Duke days.

Future with Clippers: Redick is reportedly seeking a contract in the $18-$20 million range annually. J.J. isn’t being greedy here—he just finished a four-year, $28 million deal he originally signed in his prime. In his ten-year career, Redick has made an estimated $55 million. Last season, Allen Crabbe signed with Portland for $75 million. At 32, this is the last time J.J. is realistically able to receive a big multi-year payday.

While no one knows what the hell the Clippers are really going to do, Redick is the least likely member of the Core Four to return. His name has been floated as a key cog in a sign-and-trade for Carmelo Anthony and others, should the Clippers go that route. There’s also a possibility he simply goes to another team in free agency. If JJ does depart this summer, he will be missed dearly.