NBA PM: Redd “At Least Another Five Years”
Michael Redd finally made his season debut last Thursday night for the Phoenix Suns, scoring 12 points in 19 minutes.
Redd spent all of his 11 years in Milwaukee after dropping to the second round (43rd pick) after a nice run at Ohio State. Redd would eventually become an All-Star in 2004 and a 20-point scorer for six-straight years (2003/4 – 2008/9) until he blew out his left knee.
After rehabbing all the way back, almost a year to the day, Michael would tear the same ACL and MCL for another lost season on the shelf. Redd diligently fought through the process yet again, making 10 appearances last season for the Bucks but upon conclusion, his $91 million contract finally expired.
Time to move on to something new . . .
“[It's] totally different, totally different man,” said Redd about his new situation. “This is different, but at the same time change is good and I had a wonderful tenure in Milwaukee, 11 years man, so not too many guys can say that they’ve been with one team for most of their career, so I was blessed to be a part of that organization for that long.”
Michael was signed on December 29th (Can Redd Fix Suns at Two-Guard?) and while he’s healthy, the team gave him some extra time to work with the training staff.
If Redd can revive his career, Phoenix may be the best place for him. The Suns are regarded as the best in the NBA at getting and keeping their players healthy. Grant Hill was reborn in Phoenix. The back trouble nagging Steve Nash mostly stayed in Dallas.
“I’ve noticed dramatic improvements in my range of motion,” said Redd. “I’ve gotten stronger, so they know what they were doing when they got me and I saw what they did with Grant obviously and Steve, in their thirties playing high level basketball so when I got here they were like ‘Hey young fella’. I was like, ‘It feels good to be called young fella again,’ so it was good.”
Michael is just 33-years old but in NBA terms, and after two knee reconstructions, it would probably fair to call him “over the hill.”
To that end, the Suns are bringing him along slowly. After his impressive debut, Redd has struggled to hit shots in about 14 minutes a game.
“We don’t have any grand expectations. We just want him to work himself back in and play as well as he possibly can,” said Coach Alvin Gentry. “He hasn’t played in eight months so it’s going to be a process and I don’t think you’re going to be able to judge him by the first game, second game or even the fifth game. I think it’s going to take a little time for him to get his legs under him. We’ll see what can happen.”
In addition to choosing Phoenix because of the training staff, Redd liked the idea of playing with fellow veterans Nash and Hill.
“[I like our] potential to be a good team, play with Steve, but more than anything I think the medical staff pushed it over the edge,” said Redd. “One thing Grant and Steve said to me is that continue to do work with the medical staff, you’ll be fine.”
Most teams have struggled to mesh with an abbreviated training camp, Redd joined the Suns late in the process so some of the delay has been Michael learning just what the Suns are trying to do on the court.
“It’s just different,” said Redd. “I went through five different coaches in seven years in Milwaukee, so I got accustomed to different systems.”
Coming back from such a long stretch of rehab, Redd feels like he’s starting from scratch.
“One moment you’re at the pinnacle of your career, the Olympics, the next . . . six months later, you take a look and you’re at the bottom,” said the Phoenix guard. “My faith in God has helped me tremendously . . . surrounding myself by positive people and more than anything the fight has been mental, to mentally get back, to mentally feel like you can move, play at the high level that you’re accustomed to playing.”
He’s been the All-Star, earned the big contract. Why not just hang it up and retire?
“You know what? Because I love the game and I felt I had a lot more to offer to the game,” said Redd. “In fact, the last time I was in this building [STAPLES Center], it happened here, I tore my ACL so I didn’t want to end my career on that note. I knew I had more left in me, so that’s the reason why.”
“I didn’t feel like it was time yet,” continued Redd.
Michael is hoping this Phoenix stint won’t be a one-and-done.
“I want to play, I mean look at Steve and Grant, at least another five years,” said Michael. “I feel like if I continue to do the things I’ve been doing with the staff and continue to stay on top of, I’m going to be around for a little bit.”
Now it’s just a question of Redd’s body catching up with his mind.
“I’m driven man, even being drafted late in the second round as a rookie it kind of reminds me of this . . . this whole last year and a half, two years or so,” said Redd. “My career’s always been about climbing mountains and conquering challenges and this is another challenge that I have to face and I want to take it on.”
The seed of joining Hill in Phoenix dates back to Redd’s recovery while with the Bucks.
“I talked to him. We always talk. He missed three years, three and a half years with ankle surgeries and look at him now. Phenomenal,” said Redd. “He said if you do it right, he told me this last year in Milwaukee, if you do it right, you get back and you’ve got years to go. So lo and behold we become teammates the next year, so I’m encouraged by that.”
Now it’s time for results, whatever Redd can bring, to help the Suns climb in the West after a 5-9 start.
“One of the things I do know is that if you’re a shooter, you’re a shooter until you’re 80-years old,” said Gentry.
Michael is still searching for his shot but he knows it’s coming, just like playing for the Suns is his shot at revitalizing what has been a tremendous career.
“I think it’s still there around somewhere. It’s still there and I’ve been moving well, haven’t been thinking about my knee, which is the mental aspect of it,” said Redd. “Watching the games and watching my peers from Olympic team and watch them go on – I want to be right there too back in the mix so that’s my motivation.”
The Suns, midway through a difficult road trip, will visit the Boston Celtics on Friday followed by a trip to Dallas against the Mavericks.
Struggling to Find World Peace
The Los Angeles Lakers have opened the season with an uneven but mostly positive 10-5 start. Most impressive is the team’s defense, holding teams to 89.4 points per game.
Offensively the Lakers are struggling, perhaps none more than forward Metta World Peace.
Despite starting for most of his career (and most recently the past two seasons for the Lakers), Peace has accepted a role off the bench for the Lakers. Through 14 appearances, Metta has shot just 33.7% from the field and 0.74% from three while averaging 5.4 points a game.
Peace took to Twitter recently, “Wow I never knew coming off the bench was tough… Bench players get much more respect from me now…”
On Wednesday he wrote, “Pardon my game Laker fans, I really suck [lollipops]. I have absolutely no rhythm. I am working hard and I feel it coming back.
Coach Mike Brown moved Metta to the bench to try and get the most out of his post-up game. Given the talents of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the starting lineup, Brown hoped Peace would get more freedom as the leader of the bench.
So far that’s yet to be seen.
Recently, Peace took some time to reflect on his career.
“There was a time I was top 10, top 15 in the league – a few years ago,” said the Laker forward. “You’ve got a really good player coming off that bench, and you see that they’re doubling me every time. Once I catch it they come even before I can dribble the ball and that’s not normal with a bench [player]. It’s good to know that they know that . . .”
Metta still believes in his own ability to score, despite the immediate results.
“I’m going to score when I want. Can’t nobody can stop me,” said Peace.
Even in the best of times with the Lakers, Metta has struggled individually. He never quite fit into Coach Phil Jackson’s triangle offense.
“I got a title under that system so that’s an awesome system,” said Peace. “Even though it was difficult for me to play, what people don’t understand is the mental part of the game. It took a lot for me to become comfortable, because I was not, but I mastered my role which was do what you have to do and that got me the ring. So I love that system and I would play in that system any day.”
Of course Peace, Artest at the time, helped save the Lakers with a big Game 7 in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, a title the team may have lost without their puzzling small forward.
With the rushed season and abbreviated training camp, along with the hiring of Brown, LA has been forced to implement new offensive and defensive systems with little to no practice time.
When the team has had the opportunity, most of the efforts have been on the defensive side of the ball.
“The offense is definitely an afterthought,” said Artest. “We hardly ever talk about offense. It’s a lot of defense.”
Brown recently noted that his team is ahead of schedule learning his defensive concepts but behind the curve on offense. The team’s schedule lightens slightly over the remainder of the month and Mike hopes to get some practice work in to help the team’s scoring (currently at 93.3 points a game).
Peace swears by Brown’s defensive concepts.
“I played under the system [in Indiana], I got Defensive Player of the Year under the system,” said Metta. “I’m not as quick as I was . . . I’m not as light as I was. I was 248 at that time, now I’m 265 . . . but I got Defensive Player of the Year under that [system].”
It was a different story with Jackson, who Peace said spent most of the time going over the team’s offense.
“Phil’s got 13 rings,” said Peace, including Jackson’s championships as a player with the New York Knicks. “So who cares about defense when you get 13 rings?”
It was a long road for Metta from suspension to redemption with the Lakers.
“Before, when I got suspended, I kind of went into depression mode and gained like thirty pounds so I can never get back down to that weight that I was,” said Peace. “I was 273 and when I came back I was never able to get back down to where I was and it took me a while to get back to that level of how I was playing. At that point I was planning to get MVP, I had just gotten defensive player of the year, All-Star so I was planning to be MVP that year and I was on track to get MVP but then I got suspended and then everything threw me off track and then the next year I got suspended from the team for three months, then I got to Sacramento I was 270. I wish I could get back down to that weight I was but it’s hard, it’s mostly muscle anyway, but if I ever get back down to 250 you’re looking at a real serious player.”
For now Metta is still searching for peace in a reserve role for the Lakers.
It’s still early in the year and just as Peace struggled through the 2010 postseason, in the end he finished on top.
The Lakers, as a team, are in a similar position. There is a lot of potential but plenty of uncertainty whether or not they’ll reach their goal.
Next, they’ll be challenged with back-to-back visits to Miami and Orlando starting Thursday night.
Next All-Star Returns Announced
On Thursday, the NBA released the latest balloting results for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.
The Eastern Conference appears to have locked in their starting five with Dwight Howard (1,161,797), Derrick Rose (1,040,210), LeBron James (972,580), Dwyane Wade (972,015) and Carmelo Anthony (779,945).
The next closest player would be Amar’e Stoudemire (281,617), seemingly an insurmountable distance behind his fellow New York Knick teammate Anthony.
In the Western Conference, the starting five looks to be Kobe Bryant (1,110,379), Kevin Durant (973,152), Chris Paul (835,026), Andrew Bynum (777,365) and Blake Griffin (619,913).
Dirk Nowitzki is nearest to election at 354,434 votes, more than a quarter of a million votes behind Los Angeles Clippers star Griffin.
Fans can vote at NBA.com until January 31st. The starters will officially be announced on February 2nd on TNT.
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