Cam Reddish spent most of his time in New York on the bench, a former lottery pick with a career going off the rails on a team and coach that were a mismatch.
But with the 23-year-old losing a season to the DNP, Reddish took solace in his belief that the bench wasn’t about basketball.
“It was tough, but at the same time, it’s not even about basketball,” Reddish told the Daily News. “It had nothing to do with basketball. It was all politics, all favoritism. shit like that That’s why he wasn’t too worried about it.”
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Reddish did not expand on his response. As the Blazers wing described in the interview, he has good reason to focus on the future, rather than remember his frustrations with the Knicks and Tom Thibodeau.
Since being traded for Josh Hart last month, Reddish has been a consistent part of Portland’s rotation averaging 30.1 minutes and 13.8 points. He assumed a starting role due to injuries and earned the trust of coach Chauncey Billups, who said of Reddish, “I always thought he was very talented, but he’s even more talented than he thought.”
“They put a reputation on you (when you get traded twice as a Reddish). What happen? Why does he go from one team to another without getting a chance? Damian Lillard said. “You just don’t know what goes on behind closed doors until you get attached to the situation and it’s our job to cheer him up, talk to him about life. Things change and you start to see who they really are.”
On Friday, Reddish scored 14 points in 35 minutes in a painful loss to the Sixers, the seventh time in the last nine games he’s played in 30 minutes. This is after 33 straight DNPs to end his Knicks career.
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“I am in a completely different place. Now I am blessed. Not everyone gets another chance, so it’s refreshing,” said Reddish, the 10th overall pick in 2019. “I have some great teammates. Great staff. It’s a very positive around here. Win, lose or tie. It’s not like someone hit you on the head, it’s not like that happened in New York, but it’s more my style.”
Reddish hinted that Thibodeau’s impatience affected his confidence. With a few other players like Obi Toppin, Thibodeau has been quick to quit after a mistake.
“I can take a shot, and in New York, I feel like I HAD to,” said Reddish, who will face the Knicks on Tuesday in Portland. I know I’m not the only person who felt this way.
“He was putting too much pressure on me. Now I can relax and play my game. You’re going to see it. The more I’m on the court, the more I’m going to grow and play. I’m happy.”
Switching to Reddish also worked for the Knicks, who won their first nine games with Hart in the rotation. But Reddish’s one-year tenure in New York doesn’t go to waste easily. The Knicks traded a first-round pick to acquire him from the Hawks last season. Then, after Reddish’s stock tanked with the Knicks, team president Leon Rose had to attach another first-round pick to send him to the Blazers for Hart.
Reddish, a free agent after the season, quickly understood that the Knicks had no plans for him. He played just 35 games in 1 ½ seasons, highlighted by a brief stint as starting forward in November.
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“I knew it was coming in. I knew there really wasn’t a plan,” Reddish said. “What am I going to do? Whine about it? No, I was going to make the most of it. I still became a starter at the end of the day. And I just tried to do what I could do with what they gave me. And it didn’t necessarily work… ”.
Hoping to resurrect his career, Reddish said he anticipated a trade last month but wasn’t sure as the deadline loomed.
“I had an idea. I didn’t know. The way they treated me, the way they treated me, I didn’t think I was going to have a chance,” Reddish said. “So I was happy and grateful for it. So I looked forward to it. My agent told me to wait for it. But like I said, it was getting late. So I was thinking, I don’t know, I might have to do something else or hold out until the end.”
When asked about rumors of a conflict with Thibodeau, Reddish said he didn’t communicate with the coach enough to know if there were issues.
“I never really talk to Thibs like that. I don’t know,” Reddish said. And I really don’t care. I’m here (in Portland) now. I’m trying to put that in the past. Those were some of the lowest times in my career, so whatever it is.”
He’s in a better place now, nearly 3,000 miles away in Portland, and both sides have been better.
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“Refreshing,” Reddish said. “Refreshing and fun”