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The former Cave Spring star leads his new team, Milwaukee, into the playoffs against Miami.
Milwaukee’s J.J. Redick is enjoying his best NBA season. “I made another step forward,” said the former Cave Spring and Duke standout.
J.J. Redick is averaging 14.1 points per game this season, including 12.3 ppg in 28 regular-season games with the Bucks.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
In the two months since J.J. Redick was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, he has eaten a bratwurst, attended a Milwaukee Brewers game — and helped his new team make the NBA playoffs.
The former Cave Spring High School and Duke star has now made it to the playoffs in each of his seven NBA seasons, including the past six with the Orlando Magic. He is excited to again be in the postseason, which would not have happened if the woeful Magic had not decided to trade him.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen there in the middle of February with the trade deadline,” Redick said Friday in a phone interview. “I’m glad I’m still playing basketball.
“This is definitely the best time of the year. The NBA playoffs are exciting. The atmosphere is incredible. The energy is incredible.”
The eighth-seeded Bucks (38-44) will visit top-seeded Miami (66-16) in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series at 7 tonight. It would be a huge shock if Redick’s team were to eliminate LeBron James and the defending NBA champs.
“We have a challenge in front of us, for sure,” Redick said. “If the right team gets hot at the right time, crazy things can happen. But we’re not going to have a chance to beat them unless we play extremely well.”
The backup guard averaged a career-high 14.1 points and a career-high 30.5 minutes for his two teams combined in the regular season, up from 11.6 points and 27.2 minutes last season. He averaged 15.1 points and 31.5 minutes in 50 games with the Magic this season and averaged 12.3 points and 28.7 minutes in 28 regular-season games with the Bucks.
“I made another step forward,” he said. “I got better over the summer and got better throughout the season.”
This is the fifth straight year that Redick’s scoring average has improved from the previous season.
“I keep my body in incredible shape year-round,” he said. “I work out during the summer. I don’t drink during the season. I eat right. You do things the right way, you get better.
“It’s an overall plan and a vision of not being complacent.”
Redick will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Is it a mere coincidence that he is having a strong season in the final year of his three-year contract?
“I wouldn’t say it’s a coincidence,” he said. “Most guys probably do have their best year in their contract years. But I had my [previous] best year last year. And the year before that I had my best year. And the year before that I had my best year.”
Redick said he is making tougher shots this year. In former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy’s pick-and-roll system, Redick shot more spot-up 3-pointers than he did this season under new Magic coach Jacque Vaughn and Bucks coach Jim Boylan. This season, more of his shots have come on the move and off the dribble. He still made a career-high 165 3-pointers.
With Redick’s free agency looming, the rebuilding Magic traded him as part of a six-player deal on Feb. 21.
Getting traded from the only NBA team he had ever played for was tough, said Redick.
“You get comfortable off the court. You get comfortable on the court, especially in my situation,” he said. “Then you get traded and you just have to deal with it.
“You do prepare yourself, but it doesn’t prepare you for when it actually happens, especially when it’s the first time you get traded. It’s a little jarring when the actual reality of it sets in.”
The Bucks’ starting guards, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, are the team’s top two scorers. Jennings will be a restricted free agent this summer, and Ellis is expected to become an unrestricted free agent.
Redick said he is “still adapting” to his new team.
“We have two guards that play a ton, so trying to find a balance there has been a challenge at times,” Redick said. “But I think the reason they brought me here was not just to help for this year but potentially to be a long-term part of this organization, so we’ll see what happens this summer.
“It’s a situation I’ll have to assess.”
Redick and his wife, Chelsea, are living in a Milwaukee apartment under a short-term lease.
Redick said remaining with the Bucks is “definitely an option.” But he isn’t sure where he will wind up this summer.
“When your contract’s up, you just hope that there’s interest, and hopefully there will be this summer and we’ll have some security,” he said. “I’m hoping to get a longer-term deal, a four-year deal.”
Redick is not expecting to sign with a big-name team.
“Most of the big-name teams don’t have [salary] cap space, so there’s no way you could play for them,” he said. “In terms of the teams that have cap space and they’re going to go after free agents, hopefully I’ll have some options.”
Redick made an emotional return to Orlando on April 10 when the Bucks visited the Magic. His former team saluted him with a highlights package on the video board, and Magic fans gave him a standing ovation.
“It was really humbling,” he said. “Besides getting my jersey retired at Duke, I can’t ever remember getting a reception like that in any building in any city. It was incredible. I’m very, very grateful for my time there and for the relationships I’ve built. To see the reciprocity of those feelings come back at me was very rewarding.”
And how does he like his new city?
“Besides the terrible weather, which only God can change?” Redick said. “Milwaukee’s a great place.”
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