Moments after the Cam Reddish trade to the New York Knicks circulated online on Thursday morning, Duke Men’s Basketball official Twitter account posted a GIF of RJ Barrett whipping a between-the-leg pass to a trailing Reddish for a three-pointer.
Reddish got his wish.
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) January 13, 2022
It’s like 2018 all over again. The two-thirds of the former Duke’s Big 3 are reunited in New York.
Barrett quickly liked the tweet. The Knicks’ rising swingman is hyped to play with Reddish again.
“It’s great to play with my Duke brother again. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. I’m happy. I can’t wait,” Barrett told reporters Friday. “We had a good talk yesterday. When he gets here, I hope I could help him gel with the team. I gave him a little bit of a rundown.
After inconsistent three-and-a-half seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Reddish is moving on, seeking a more defined role in a place where he can showcase the tantalizing talent that made him one of the top prospects out of high school and a top-10 lottery selection out of college. But it’s unclear if that place is New York.
Over his first 118 NBA games, Reddish averaged 11.1 points on a sub-par 38.5 percent shooting from the floor, including just 32.9 percent from the three-point range in 26.3 minutes. He’s hiked his outside shooting to 37.9 percent this season on 4.5 attempts — a much-needed swing skill for the 6-foot-8, 217-pound forward.
Though New York coach Tom Thibodeau said they’re loaded in the wing rotation right now, Barrett is confident Reddish can crack it.
“I don’t think we would have gotten him if that wasn’t the case. So, I think he’ll do well here and have a chance to be a great piece to this team. We’re excited to have him,” Barrett said.
Then he rattled one by one the full scouting report on Reddish: “He’s 6-foot-8, very skilled [player]. He shoots the ball, finishes with both hands, and plays great defense. Again, we’re getting a good, talented player.”
Reddish hasn’t put together those skillsets in Atlanta due to a spate of injuries. Eventually, he got buried behind the likes of fellow young talents De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and the arrival of veterans Bogdan Bogdan Bognadovic and Danilo Gallinari last season further clouded his future with the Hawks. So he asked the front office to move him elsewhere rather than get stuck on the bench.
The caveat is he’s moving to a similar situation in New York. Reddish has to fight again for his playing time in a Knicks’ stacked wing rotation filled with veterans. But Reddish’s physical tools trump all the current Knicks’ wings at the moment.
During the 2019 NBA Draft, Knicks general manager Scott Perry reportedly stood pat in selecting Barrett and shunning offers to move down for a chance to grab someone like Reddish. Now they got them both.
Barrett revealed the Knicks front office sought him for his thoughts about his former teammate before the trade went down.
“They asked me a couple of questions,” Barrett said.
At Duke, Reddish played a smaller role behind consensus NBA top overall pick Zion Williamson and Barrett, who love attacking the rim. Reddish was the lone Blue Devil who averaged more than two three-pointers per game (2.5 3s to be exact). But his shooting splits (36/33/77) left much to be desired.
Williamson and Barrett flourished, with both Duke stars averaging 22.6 points per game. Despite Reddish’s physical gifts, he could only grab 3.7 rebounds per game, along with his 13.5-point scoring average. But he played tough defense. His 1.6 steals per game is one solid proof.
“It was fun. It was easy out there playing with him,” Barrett recalled their days at Duke. “I hope that translates to the NBA too.”
Barrett kept tabs on his former teammates despite going separate ways after a one-and-done season at Duke that didn’t end in an NCAA championship when Williamson got injured.
“We stayed in touch all the time. I keep tabs on my (college) teammates to see how they’re doing. I think just before he got hurt, he had a really good stretch,” said Barrett referring to Reddish’s strong December.
Reddish scored in double figures in seven of the Hawks’ 10 games last month. He had a pair of 30-point games against Orlando and Chicago and averaged 14.7 points on a 40/39/91 shooting splits.
Barrett added that the Duke’s coaching staff also tracked their development. He said he regularly talks to Duke’s associate head Jon Scheyer once or twice a week. He’s also kept in touch with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant Nolan Smith.
When asked if he heard from his former Duke teammates about their reunion in New York, Barrett kept it close to his chest.
“We’ll keep that in house,” said Barrett with a sheepish smile.
After this season, all three former Duke players are extension-eligible and could hit free agency in 2023.
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