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JJ Redick calls New Orleans a special place, but it’s not a given he finishes out his contract with the Pelicans

The 14-year NBA veteran throws extensive praise at the city and teammates in a recent interview, but a lack of talk about next season raises questions.

Cleveland Cavaliers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

JJ Redick recently joined Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on an episode of the All The Smoke podcast featured on Showtime, and as it’s usually the case in any of his interviews, plenty of good stories were told and insightful assessments were made.

The 14-year veteran describes his various experiences at Duke and then in each of his stops in the NBA, which includes stating that the Philadelphia 76ers “fucked up not bringing me back.” However, as entertaining as JJ’s honesty was, we’ll exclusively focus on all things pertaining to the New Orleans Pelicans.

It’s not the first time he’s professed a love for New Orleans or his teammates, but Redick flat out sounds like a guy who thoroughly enjoyed his first year with the Pelicans.

“Man, it’s been great, to be honest with you. This year, other than COVID and the bubble, my actual time in New Orleans was one of the least stressful, least drama-filled teams I’ve ever been on. It’s just a bunch of good dudes, man. When they’re good dudes already at 21 or 22, I feel like if you can get the right vets around them you can really have an impact on their careers.”

Redick goes on to explain his good fortunes of being in great locker rooms when he first entered the league with the Orlando Magic. Those and ensuing experiences went a long way to shaping the player he is today so now one of his priorities is to give back, wanting to pass vital knowledge to the next generation.

New Orleans Pelicans v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

“You think a lot about your own legacy when you get towards the end of your career, what it means and how people are going to remember you. I hope I was a good teammate. Truthfully, I hope Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s like ‘yo, that’s my guy.’ I hope in 15 years when he’s finishing up his career, he’s doing the same thing to a 22-year-old and he can say ‘oh yeah, JJ took care of me when I was a rookie.’ Those are things that you really think about when you get older.”

Redick next gushes about the city of New Orleans and Jrue Holiday, in particular.

“New Orleans is a special place, man. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been in this country. It’s so unique. The people there are insanely nice and insanely great. And I think that was eye-opening for me.

“My two biggest takeaways from my year in New Orleans were: thank God I got to experience New Orleans and what a special place it was, and thank God I get to be friends with Jrue Holiday...He’s just an incredible human.”

JJ stated that the Holiday family is comprised of incredible people and insinuated that Jrue is a rare breed in this league because he shies away from the spot light even though his talent level is remarkably unique and deserves all the fanfare.

“Jrue doesn’t ask for or enjoy adulation and attention. He’s totally cool just flying under the radar.

“You know, on the court, he does so much and he does so much well. I’ve talked about this a ton on my podcasts, I’ve talked about it with the guests on my podcasts, but seeing him guard the ball up close, one-on-one, in person this year, there’s no one that can do what he does. I don’t know how he is able to just stay in front of people at the level that he can. And it doesn’t matter, like, you want to put him on Dame Lillard? Great. You want to put him on Jokic. Great. We’ll switch him onto Jokic and he’ll be like ‘nah, don’t give me help.’ He wants that action. He’s just great, man. And again, another guy, like we talk about having the right mix of guys in the locker room, he’s just a special dude in the locker room. He’s just a great teammate.”

Redick wraps up the section relating to the Pelicans by talking about the limitless ceiling of Zion Williamson. He also gives props to Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball for starting to think the game — the most important area of development for players because it can lead to greatness.

“It’s All-NBA, All-Star, Hall of Fame. That’s his ceiling. The thing with Zion is that he is naturally — obviously athletic — but naturally skilled. So when he sort of learns how to play the NBA game, and think the NBA game, he’s going to dominate. He does it naturally, without even really putting in the thought and the preparation that we all learned. Like I didn’t do this either when I was 19. It’s a process. Dude, this guy in year five, in year six? Like what are we looking at right now?

“I saw that this year with B.I. — Brandon. B.I., in his fourth year, and Lonzo, in his third year, and you could see that development where they’re thinking the game. They’re learning like ‘oh, this is where my advantage is. I can get away with this almost every night. Let me keep going to that.’ As much as we talk about skill development, that’s where really great players, that’s where the development happens is in thinking the game. That’s what makes one of our teammates, Chris {Paul}, so great. That’s why he can play at the level he can at 35 as an undersized point guard. It’s because he’s so smart and he thinks the game.”

JJ Redick obviously thinks highly of the Pelicans and the city itself, but I was left with an unmistakable impression from this podcast: the future regarding one of the greatest shooters of all time in New Orleans seems kind of murky.

Although none of the questions were geared towards his future, it’s interesting to note that absolutely nothing was said about the upcoming 2020-21 season. Redick is as goal-orientated of a player as you’ll find. He’s considered one of the leaders in New Orleans. No mention of looking forward to helping the Pelicans improve from a sour finish of 12 games under .500? No hint of wishing for that taste of playoff basketball again, whether that's in New Orleans or in general — especially coming on the heels of recent talk of wanting a legitimate chance at a ring before the career ends?

If I’m forced to guess, Redick doesn’t know exactly what his future holds at this time; thus, he’s avoiding the topic altogether. Although he has a year left on his contract in New Orleans, perhaps he, the team or both are looking to go in a different direction. Or maybe the experienced veteran simply knows better than to go out on some limb before the start of an offseason, where things just happen and player movement always dominates the scene.

Either way, JJ Redick was a huge positive on the Pelicans. Time will tell if he will be again —because I don’t believe it’s a given.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.