On Saturday afternoon, the Sixers signed former Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick to a 1-year, $23 million contract. Redick should slide in perfectly at shooting guard, spacing the floor and drawing attention away from Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz. The short-term nature of the deal allows Philadelphia to retain flexibility for the 2018 offseason.
Redick is perhaps the only important player on the Sixers roster who can be considered “a sure thing.” Simmons and Fultz have yet to play an NBA game. Embiid’s injury concerns speak for themselves. It remains to be seen how quickly and effectively Dario Saric will develop. Sixers fans know what they can expect from Robert Covington, but he is far from a known commodity for the average NBA fan.
Redick, on the other hand, is an 11-year NBA veteran who has shot at least 39.5% from three in 7 of the last 8 seasons. He also carries more playoff experience than anyone on the Sixers roster, having made the playoffs in all 11 of those years.
The fact that a player of Redick’s caliber turned down offers from other teams to sign with Philadelphia speaks volumes about how much the team has grown in the past 12-15 months. He is not coming here to cash checks and spend the last two months of the season in a suit.
The addition of Redick means that the results of this year’s Sixers games will matter. Sixers fans will have to adjust to caring about the standings, in-game strategy, and day-to-day injuries. And most of all, ambitious expectations set up Philadelphia fans for emotions they know all too well: disappointment, agony, and heartbreak.
15 months ago, the Sixers were limping to the finish of a 10-72 season. Vegas now favors them to make the playoffs. As much as I love the Sixers, I would bet against them, if I were a betting man. Why? The Sixers’ playoff chances still rest on the shoulders, back, knees, ankles, and feet of one Joel Hans Embiid.
The possibility of Embiid returning this year as a less effective player or getting injured again just scares me. The addition of Fultz makes it more likely that the Sixers will eventually become a consistent playoff contender, but Embiid will always be the x-factor that elevates the ceiling from good to great.
I would rather have the possibility of greatness in Embiid than guaranteed mediocrity in Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes, but still, my inner Philadelphia fan will not allow my hopes to soar too high. My fandom is confusing. I am always overconfident when the public has a negative opinion of my team. When expectations begin to grow, paranoia sets in. A Philadelphia team projected highly in the preseason is usually too good to be true.
So, while I will continue to partake in Sixers Twitter’s moment in the sun, a small part of me will be agonizing over what could go wrong. I will try to smother those thoughts, but I doubt I will fully succeed.