RJ Barrett can’t wait to play with Cam Reddish again: ‘He’s up to the challenge’

More than anybody else in the Knicks organization, RJ Barrett has the inside scoop on playing with Cam Reddish.

So when management asked him a few questions about his former Duke teammate before acquiring Reddish from the Hawks on Thursday, Barrett filled them in.

“If I know Cam, he’s up to the challenge,” Barrett said Friday. “I think he’ll do well here. He’ll have a chance to be a great piece to this team. … It was easy out there playing with him [at Duke]. So I hope that translates to the NBA, too.”

Exactly how Reddish will fit with the Knicks remains to be seen, but they won’t get to find out just yet. Reddish will be out “for a while” with a sprained ankle, coach Tom Thibodeau said, declining to offer a timetable. That means Reddish won’t get the chance to face his former team Saturday night when the Knicks play at Atlanta.

But the Knicks are intrigued by the 22-year-old’s upside and will give him a chance for a fresh start, even if he left one crowded group of wings in Atlanta for another crowded group of wings in New York.

RJ Barrett (right) will be reunited with former Duke teammate Cam Reddish (left).
Getty, USA TODAY Sports

“It gives us an opportunity to look at Cam,” Thibodeau said. “We’ll see when he gets here, see how he fits in and then we’ll go from there. … Size, athleticism, wing position, that sort of thing. Sometimes a change of scenery is good for people. So we’ll see how it unfolds.”

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The Knicks gave up a protected first-round pick (via the Hornets) and Kevin Knox to land Reddish, Solomon Hill (who is out for the season) and a 2025 second-round pick.

“Feels good, can’t wait to get started,” Reddish told the Knicks’ digital team as he boarded the plane to Atlanta. “I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, meeting all the guys. I haven’t seen RJ in a little minute, so it should be good to see him.”

Hawks GM and president Travis Schlenk told reporters Friday that Reddish, last offseason, had “expressed the desire to get to a situation where he could have a little bigger role.” Schlenk said the Knicks’ offer of a first-round pick, despite its protections, made the deal worth the risk of giving up on Reddish’s potential.

“I don’t know if New York’s going to be the perfect spot for Cam or not, but my job is to get the best value I can for Cam Reddish,” Schlenk said. “He could certainly go on and have an All-Star caliber career and I wouldn’t be shocked at all by that.”

Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett while teammates at Duke.
Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett while teammates at Duke.
Getty Images

In Atlanta, Reddish was fighting for minutes (averaging 23.4 this season) alongside fellow wings Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter. Thibodeau said it was too early to tell what kind of role Reddish will play with the Knicks, but the 6-foot-8 wing will likely come off the bench behind Barrett and Evan Fournier along with fellow wings Alec Burks (when he’s not starting at point guard) and rookie Quentin Grimes.

“I don’t think you can have enough wings,” said Thibodeau, who described the Knicks’ wing position as “loaded.” “That’s sort of the way our league has gone. I like [Reddish’s] versatility. He can play three positions. In today’s NBA, I think that’s important.

“Our scouts have evaluated him and they feel strongly about him.”

Cam Reddish
Cam Reddish competed with other wings for playing time in Atlanta.
NBAE via Getty Images

The No. 10 pick in the 2019 draft was averaging 11.9 points on a career-high 37.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc in 34 games this season. Reddish flashed reminders of his potential in December when he registered a pair of 30-plus-point games in a four-game stretch. But he also went scoreless in his final two games as a Hawk, though he only played 3:14 in his final game before exiting with the ankle injury.

Reddish, who flew to New York to undergo a physical and meet the team in time to fly back to Atlanta, called Barrett on Thursday to get a rundown of his new organization.

“It’s great to play with my Duke brother again,” Barrett said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m happy, can’t wait till he gets here. … I mean, he’s 6-8, very skilled, [can] shoot the ball, finish with both hands, plays great defense. So you’re getting a good, talented player.”

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