Los Angeles is a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to have your mail forwarded there: The famous words of the snow entrenched “haters” back east who may or may not have ever set foot on pacific sand. Not to pass judgement on those who prefer general stores and four months of golf a year, but there’s a reason why transplants don’t mind paying a midwest mortgage to rent. And, professional athletes who perpetuate “show me the money” make an exception when Hollywood calls.
The NBA cliche of free-agents holding purple and gold jerseys has fallen from obvious to a stereotype. Los Angeles hasn’t lost its rank as the league’s most desirable destination. But, “Lob City” not “Showtime” has become the lure for the coveted at the peek of their careers. The Los Angeles Clippers started this trend with arrival of Chris Paul.
And the checkbook is still open.
Shooting guard JJ Redick is the star of this year’s free agency period for a Clippers team below league average from beyond the three-point line in the 2012-13 season. The NCAA‘s all-time arch assassin was part of a three-team deal that cost the organization a young scorer in Eric Bledsoe, the salary cap space that veteran Caron Butler was eating and a second-round pick. A pick that’s likely worth as much as a phone number from a stripper in this must-win-now league, unless her name is Manu Ginobili.
Redick is a perfect fit for a team that was often a shooter away from adding to its 56-game win total, and cap friendly enough to give the franchise some leverage in the future. But with all of the hand shakes and back patting the acquisition the former Orlando Magic sniper instigated, it’s the 25th pick in this year’s draft that could possibly make Redick’s move to Los Angeles an enjoyable visit.
Shooting guard, Reggie Bullock was drafted by the Clippers in the first round on June 27. Less than a month and 18 points per game later, he’s leading the team in scoring in the Las Vegas Summer League. The league is a 10-day, four-game kick the tire exhibition for coaches, scouts and general managers. Although most of the drafted participants are signed to guaranteed contracts, they’re battling against hungry journeymen who would do anything to get off buses bound for places like Sioux falls, Iowa and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Bullock can flat play. The NBA-frame-ready former North Carolina standout is gaining respect around the league. He’s a scorer who mimics the stroke of a pure shooter and is comfortable with the intimacy that comes with aggressively attacking the basket. And like Redick, Bullock is deadly from outside and beyond.
Redick will not be looking over his shoulder anytime soon. His contribution is key for a deep playoff run for the Clippers. Redick has six years of NBA experience that can’t be duplicated by late first-round talent and is a trusted scorer who has continued to improve throughout his career, averaging a career-high 15 points in the 2012-13 campaign against defenses not on summer vacation.
Although Bullock is shinning, the summer league consists of long shots, D-Leaguers and kids who are paid to play basketball, but more interested in showcasing their talent and justifying their draft position. But the league’s elite that suite up when the games count are paid to stop scorers who make a living putting the ball in the hoop. Making that transition is what separates a first-year player from a rookie sensation.
The NBA regular season marathon will begin in five months. Redick’s immediate role with the Clippers will be unquestionable and in all likelihood productive. The Duke star was projected as role player upon entering the league, and remains so. Bulluck was drafted to add depth to a rooster full of scorers, yet has already shown flashes of brilliance.
ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for Rantsports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @whatrockschris. Like him on Facebook.