REDICK SEES CLIPPERS AND CALIFORNIA AS PERFECT FIT

J.J. Redick arrives at the Clippers' Training Facility
Photo: Varon Panganiban

Less than a week before he knew he would play for the Clippers, J.J. Redick and his wife, Chelsea, celebrating their three-year wedding anniversary, were driving from Napa Valley towards Santa Barbara on famed Route 1.

“The first part of the drive when you’re going through Northern California,” Redick said, “I’m thinking, ‘Man, I could live in California. This is really nice.’”

It seemed beyond improbable at the time, living minutes or miles away from the Pacific Ocean. The Virginia native and seven-year NBA veteran, who spent all but 28 games of his career in Orlando, was entertaining the thought of a number of teams as an unrestricted free agent. The Clippers, at the time, were not one of them.

“We woke up Sunday morning in Santa Barbara and my agent said, ‘Call me, the Clippers might want to do a sign-and-trade,” Redick said. “We were driving those two hours down and it’s like, ‘Try not to be excited, try not to be excited.’ Let’s not get too excited because living wise, playing wise it was a perfect fit.”

Redick had reason to be excited. He was officially acquired Wednesday morning in a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks that also included small forward Jared Dudley coming to L.A. from the Phoenix Suns. He is a dynamic shooter, an underrated defender and is the kind of hard-nosed player Clippers Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers has been intent on adding to the roster.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Doc,” Redick said. “He targeted me and made the thing work. On top of that, having Chris [Paul] here was a huge part of it.”

Paul and Redick, who was a sophomore at Duke when Paul was a freshman at Wake Forest, have known each other as competitors for more than a decade. And while they were fierce rivals in college, Paul said he can’t wait to share the court with the 6-foot-4 guard.

“I’m really excited to play with him,” Chris Paul said of Redick. “When I saw that J.J. signed here I told my wife that I was overjoyed. I was so excited because I’m just so happy we’re on the same team and I don’t have to run around and chase him.”

It will be up to opponents to chase Redick around screens now. It is plausible that Rivers and Associate Head Coach Alvin Gentry will employ him in a role similar to all-time 3-point leader Ray Allen in Boston, coming off a series of picks along the baseline for open looks in either corner. Redick is a career 39 percent 3-point shooter, including a career-high 41.8 percent in 2011-12. During the lockout shortened season, Redick connected on 29 of his 53 corner threes (54.7 percent).

Matt Barnes, who played with Redick in Orlando during the 2009-10 season, said there’s more to his game than being a knockdown shooter, though.

“He’s tough, rugged, not just a shooter,” he said. “He’ll mix it up and get physical and that’s what I appreciate about him. I’ve seen a lot of guys try to go at him and he stands up for himself.”

Of course, Barnes concluded his praise, saying, “Not to mention the great shooter he is.”

The shooting, in particular, should give the Clippers yet another weapon at the end of games. The team saw it first hand on Jan. 12 when the undermanned Magic defeated the Clippers 104-101 at Staples Center thanks to a tie-breaking 3-pointer by Redick over Barnes with 42.1 seconds left.

He made 14 3-pointers in the final five minutes of close games last season, tied for the second most in the NBA and one ahead of Sixth Man of the Year runner-up Jamal Crawford. The two guards figure to play alongside Paul in the fourth quarter to help stretch defenses.

“I think with our team and my skillset as well as Jared [Dudley’s] we just complement everybody that’s already here,” Redick said. “I’m a guy that’s pretty easy to play with. I don’t require the ball to be in my hands a lot. I’m a quick decision maker. I’ve learned in this league I can play off others and also have plays called for me. I think in Doc and Coach Gentry’s system, it will be a great fit.”

He also knew Los Angeles would be a great fit and not just because he loved seeing the waves crashing on Pacific Coast Highway.  He called fellow Dukie and former Clipper Grant Hill to discuss housing in the area, among other things.

“He gave me the run down on the organization and everything,” Redick said. “He enjoyed his time here immensely and he promised me that I’ll love it.”

And from the sound of it, Redick will love living in California as well.