PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – Eventually, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick will form a working relationship in the Clippers backcourt, one that’s expected to pay dividends in the coming season.
Just not now.
Redick has yet to play in a preseason game, although he will probably get some minutes Wednesday night at Staples Center when the Clippers meet the Utah Jazz. But training camp has been one injury after another for the team, and especially for Redick, who will play shooting guard next to Paul.
Redick has been out with what he called a partially torn muscle in his left quad, an injury that was discovered in an MRI after he was initially diagnosed with a bruised left quad.
It has kept him sidelined through the Clippers’ camp and first six preseason games. They open the regular season next Tuesday against the Lakers.
Redick practiced Monday and Tuesday, his first workouts since camp opened. He said the injury wasn’t serious, “but it was significant enough that two weeks of rest was the required time off. It wasn’t just a thigh bruise or anything like that. I probably wouldn’t have been able to play through that.”
His time off the court means he and Paul will need time to develop a relationship that is necessary between a passer and shooter.
“That takes time,” coach Doc Rivers said. “That would’ve taken time if he’d been healthy, but it sets it back quite a bit. Shooter-passer relationship is probably one of the more underrated things. It’s really important. When a great passer gets the exact timing of a great shooter, it makes the shooter even better.”
While Redick’s minutes will be limited on Wednesday, the game will bear watching to see if he and Paul can begin to form a sense of each other. But they know it won’t happen overnight.
“It’s a huge key in that me and J.J. haven’t had an opportunity to play a lot together,” Paul said. “I pride myself on where I give those guys passes. Even if I’m just shooting around in the gym by myself, I want the pass in a certain place. Shooters have a job to shoot and I have a job to get them the ball on time and in the right place.”
Redick, acquired last July from the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a three-team deal, said there’s no rush. His conditioning will take time, and so will the time needed to blend in well with the Clippers’ starting group.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “The thing Doc has preached all training camp is to enjoy the process, enjoy the journey. You can’t skip steps. We’re trying to build, and so getting me back and hopefully getting a lot of reps over the next week or so with the first unit will help.”
NBA.com released the results of a survey of league general managers that covered a variety of subject. First on the list was which team will win the NBA Finals.
Naturally, the two-time defending champions Miami Heat were first on the list. Then came the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers.
But included in the list of others receiving votes were the Clippers. Someone thinks they can win the NBA title.
“I’m glad people feel that way about our team,” Rivers said. “It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. We have to do it. I hope they’re right. So whoever voted, I want to prove them right.”
Still, it shows a level of respect the Clippers have reached after so many years of failure.
“We still have to earn that,” Rivers said. “It’s nice what people think, but then we have to do.”