Cam ReddishPhoto: Getty Images
As the trade market heats up, as the NBA’s Dec. 15 moratorium approaches and players who signed new contracts this league year allow for trades, the Knicks are expected to be active in the trade market. During this cycle you are on the other side of the Cam Reddish Sweepstakes. Before the 2022 trade deadline, New York sent a first-rounder from the Charlotte Hornets and Kevin Knox, the 2018 draft, to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Reddish. The acclaimed winger, who was once voted the best player in his class by his peers five years later, never had the breakthrough his fans were waiting for.
There are still believers willing to get sucked into the Ponzi scheme that is 23-year-old Reddish’s potential. Reddish’s roster reportedly includes the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks — three teams that should know better. At some point, the Federal Trade Commission will have to intervene in these potential Reddish trade scenarios. Whoever acquires Reddish would be the third professional team – fourth if we include Duke – to try Reddish. The 6ft-7 forward has flashed opportunities for his game previously as Hawk and earlier this season as Knick to get his hive buzzing – but those flashes are usually followed by a month of duds.
Reddish’s mythology emerged during a stellar high school career. But prior to his senior year at Westtown High School, Reddish’s 17 games at the EYBL circuit, in which he shot 40 percent from the field and 29.7 percent of his triples, was a cause for concern. At the Nike Hoop Summit, he was outclassed by former Blue Devils and current Knicks teammate RJ Barrett his engine became the topic of conversation.
As he shared the Duke stage with Zion Williamson and Barrett, it turned out he wasn’t their caliber as a prospect. If Reddish didn’t have the freedom to fire off shots, he didn’t seem to figure out how. The move from point guard to a ballless wing was an understandable shock to his system, but not unusual or unexpected. Very few 6-foot-7 ball handlers with a 7-foot-1 span make it into the league as point guards unless they are generationally gifted offensive starters.
The transition from a ball-dominant playmaker to an off-ball wing that must pick its pitches is common for most prep-school All-Americans. In high school, when Reddish was bigger, faster, and stronger than his opponents, he was a much-used juggernaut. In a smaller role, his efficiency should have improved. Instead, his efficiency was nothing short of atrocious and he struggled to find alternative ways to contribute. The defense lashed out at his teammates, and Reddish responded by shooting 33 percent from behind the arc and hitting less than 40 percent of his 2-point field goals.
Ruddy jumping jumpers, like the lights went out in the gym, should have started the steep decline of his draft horses. Even so, Atlanta felt compelled to place him 10th overall. In New York it was more like that. Its stripes can get hotter than the Earth’s core or cooler than deep space. He’ll score 30 points in one night and eclipse the next four by nearly double digits.
The Knicks were drawn into a risky deal they should have known was coming out the other end. The Hawks eventually threw this Charlotte pick in their package deal for Dejounte Murray.
The market price for Reddish is reportedly a second-round pick or a rookie contract player, but the Knicks’ asking price is correspondingly higher Newsday’s Steve Popper. New York is playing a weak hand with one of the worst poker faces in the NBA. All Reddish has achieved in a Knick uniform is an even lower field goal percentage of 28.7 percent, while also boosting his 38 percent shooting off the field as Hawk to a Russell Westbrook-quality 43 percent .
If Reddish’s ceiling was that high, the Knicks wouldn’t be dumping him after less than a year. He has been a DNP outside of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation since going goalless in nine minutes on 3 December. Reddish is an empty highlight pack. That 720-degree aerial ball against the Miami Heat in 2019 is a microcosm of his career. Excellent in theory, but he should have passed. There’s bound to be a manager who thinks it might be him to unlock Reddish, but the theory of what Reddish might be doesn’t seem to stand up to the reality test.