As the trade market heats up as the NBA’s Dec. 15 moratorium nears, allowing players who signed new contracts this league year to be traded, the Knicks are expected to be active on the trade market. During this cycle, they’re on the other side of the Cam Reddish sweepstakes. Before the 2022 trade deadline, New York forwarded a first-rounder belonging to the Charlotte Hornets and 2018 draft bust Kevin Knox, to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Reddish. The highly-touted wing, who was once voted on by his fellow draft peers as the best player in his class five years down the line by his draft peers has never had the breakthrough his fans have been waiting for.
There are still believers who are willing to get sucked into the Ponzi scheme that is the 23-year-old Reddish’s potential. Reportedly, Reddish’s list of suitors includes the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks — three teams that should know better. At some point, the Federal Trade Commission has to intervene in these potential Reddish trade scenarios. Whoever acquires Reddish would be the third professional team — fourth if we include Duke — that has taken a shot on Reddish. The 6-foot-7 forward has flashed the possibilities for his game before as a Hawk and earlier this season as a Knick to get his hive buzzing — but those flashes are typically followed by a month of duds.
Reddish’s mythology was created during a standout high school career. But, prior to his senior year at Westtown High School, Reddish’s 17 games on the EYBL circuit in which he shot 40 percent from the field and 29.7 percent of his triples, raised concerns. At the Nike Hoop Summit, he was outclassed by his former Blue Devils and current Knicks teammate RJ Barrett and his motor became a topic of conversation.
Once he shared the Duke stage with Zion Williamson and Barrett, it became apparent he wasn’t their caliber as a prospect. If Reddish wasn’t free to fire up shots, he couldn’t seem to figure out how. Moving from point guard to an off-ball wing was an understandable shock to his system, but not uncommon or unexpected. Very few 6-foot-7 ball handlers with a 7-foot-1 wingspan make it to the league as point guards unless they’re generationally gifted offensive initiators.
Transitioning from a ball-dominant playmaker to an off-ball wing who has to pick his spots is common for most prep school All-Americans. In high school when Reddish was bigger, faster, and stronger than his opponents, he was a high-usage juggernaut. In a smaller role, his efficiency should have improved. Instead, his efficiency was downright atrocious and he struggled to find alternative ways to contribute. Defenses keyed in on his teammates and Reddish responded by shooting 33 percent from behind the arc and made fewer than 40 percent of his 2-point field goals.
Reddish shooting jumpers like the lights were out in the gym should have begun the precipitous drop of his draft stock. Still, Atlanta felt compelled to take him 10th overall. In New York, it’s been more of the same. His streaks can grow hotter than the earth’s core or cooler than the depths of outer space. He’ll score 30 one night and barely eclipse double digits for the next four.
The Knicks got suckered into a risky deal they should have known they’d come out on the other end of. The Hawks wound up tossing that Charlotte pick into their package deal for Dejounte Murray.
Reportedly, the market price for Reddish is a second-round pick or a player on a rookie contract, but the Knicks asking price is higher according to Newsday’s Steve Popper. New York is playing a weak hand with one of the NBA’s worst poker faces. All Reddish has done in a Knick uniform is log an even lower 28.7 percent field goal percentage while simultaneously bumping his 38 percent shooting from the field as a Hawk to a Russell Westbrook-grade 43 percent.
If Reddish’s ceiling were so high, the Knicks wouldn’t be abandoning him less than a year into his stint. Since going scoreless in nine minutes on Dec. 3, Reddish has been a DNP on the outside of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation. Reddish is an empty highlight package. This 720-degree air 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 an exec who believes they can be the ones to unlock Reddish, but the theory of what Reddish could be doesn’t seem to withstand the test of reality.