J.J. Redick was woozy. His head was spinning after meeting with a few dozen 76ers employees. Bryan Colangelo’s pitch lasted over an hour. “It was about 1:30 in the morning. I was ready to go to sleep,” Redick says. But now it was Brett Brown’s turn to sell, and dammit Philadelphia’s head coach was going to make the most of his opportunity in the wee hours of July 1. “All of a sudden he’s like, ‘Oh, hold on a second!’” Redick recalls. The silver-haired, longtime Spurs assistant wanted to hurl a half-court prayer. What better marketing tool to woo a free agent than a 7’2” center with generational, two-way talent? Brown summoned Joel Embiid onto the block of the Sixers’ sparkling practice court.
“I’m like, what’s going on? I’m wearing a blazer and trousers and I’m like, ‘What is happening here?’ And all of a sudden we’re running pick and rolls and playing out of post cuts. It was wild,” Redick says. “Not the typical sort of free agency visit, but I guess you use the resources that you have available.”
Having signed a one-year, $23 million deal with the Sixers the following afternoon, Redick now has plenty of his own resources. Yet the 11-year veteran is sitting back in his new team’s practice facility in Camden, N.J., discussing his 90-minute commute from Brooklyn. “I got used to it in L.A. The traffic in L.A was pretty bad,” the former Clippers sharpshooter says. “My first year in L.A., to and from games and to and from practices could to take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or so.”
Redick’s wife, Chelsea, and their two sons reside in Dumbo, the chic neighborhood resting on Brooklyn’s southwest waterfront. The Redicks made New York their new offseason home this past summer, seeking proximity to Chelsea’s twin sister and her newborn baby. It seems Brooklyn will be their base for the remainder of Redick’s career—having toddlers change preschools is far from an ideal early childhood education. Yet shuttling to and from Philadelphia also doesn’t sound optimal.
“The season is 7-9 months long,” Redick counters. “If I had a normal job—let’s say I was an investment banker and I was doing a project, not even drivable—let’s say I lived in New York and I was doing a project 7-9 months long in Chicago. I wouldn’t move my family. I would come back when I could. That’s just a normal thing that you have to do when you have a wife and kids.”
Redick originally planned to bounce between home cities via Amtrak. “I’m all about public transpo,” he says. He rode the subway to summer workouts in Manhattan, scrolling through Twitter while zooming underground. He does not Tweet, but filters his feed for a post-training news source and feverishly reconnects his phone to the MTA’s free underground wifi when the train rolls into a station. But since joining the Sixers, Redick has only driven the 100-mile gap between his home and the facility. He commuted to South Jersey twice a week during September team workouts, checking off a lengthy to-do list on each leg of the journey. The lease on his Chevy Tahoe back in California wasn’t going to settle itself—so Redick checked it off his list while on the phone. “I will be hard in the podcast game, for sure,” Redick says.
His fit with the Sixers appears seamless on paper. Redick’s long-range sniping will stretch opposing defenses for Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz to punish the rim. Off the floor, how does a 33-year-old father of two, commuting over two bridges, equally energized by investments and collector’s watches as dribble handoffs, mesh with a roster of teenagers and 20-somethings? “The group text has gotten weird already. A couple things that—” Redick pauses to wave his hand over his perfectly coiffed hair, now featuring several strains of gray “—have kind of gone over my head that I’ve had to Google later. But you know it’s just millennials.” Can he share any of those search keywords? “This stuff is just… NSFW, you know what I mean?”
The Sixers are not the Clippers, where players’ children flooded the locker room after home games. There is a larger age gap between Redick and Fultz (19) than what separates Fultz and Chris Paul Jr. (8). “It’s an interesting juxtaposition,” Redick says. “I never had an issue relating to people. You can always find commonalities with people, so I’m not necessarily worried that, because I’m at a different stage in my life, that it’s going to affect any relationships.”
Redick’s relationship with the Sixers may only last one (lucrative) season. If he signed a longer-term contract, Redick would have explored a more stable housing situation for his family. For now, he has a one-bedroom apartment near Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station—equal parts accessible by train and I-95—where he’ll stay on game days. There will be no elaborate man cave decorations, no stash of cheat foods and late-night snacks. “I’m in sort of a bare bones, minimalist, essentialism sort of mind frame in just about everything in my life right now,” Redick says. In Philly, the only thing of concern is returning to the playoffs, sweet-shooting dad in tow.