Back in 1999, the high school version of myself said things like: "Mike Redd is definitely good, but Scoonie Penn is for real, man. He's legit. When the Buckeyes take the floor, Scoonie Penn is simply the best player out there."
Which is part of the reason why, a dozen or so years later, I'm still partially amazed at the career stat line Michael Redd's put on the board since being drafted into the Association by the Milwaukee Bucks back in the summer of 2000. It's also part of the reason why I don't want to overlook him again if he says he's got a few more NBA years left in the tank.
I was wrong to underestimate the transition of Redd's game to the next level (or overestimate his ex-teammate Scoonie's) but it wasn't like the rest of the NBA had him pegged as the next Jesus Shuttlesworth either back then. Passed over by every team in the league before being drafted with the 14th pick of the 2nd Round by the Bucks, Redd has gone on to play in 577 games - all for the same team - and average 20 points and 4 rebounds per night for his career. He's since been paid handsomely for his efforts too, after appearing in just six games as a rookie.
Back in 2005, after averaging 15, 21, and 23 points per game over the three previous seasons, Redd signed a $91 million contract extension to stay with the team that drafted him. During the first three years of the contract, he played in an average of 68 games and turned in around 24 points a night. However, over the course of the last three years he tore ligaments in his left knee two different times, and appeared in only 33, 18, and 9 games in each season.
The 10th game in year six of that deal is tonight against Oklahoma City. It should prove to be his last in Milwaukee as well.
But if Redd has it his way, it won't be his last in the Association. While it might seem odd that he bothered to come back this season at all after missing 70+ games with the playoffs out of reach, he says he came back with a purpose. It's like an early training camp, said the soon to be free agent:
"For me right now, these last eight, nine games for me were like a training camp-type experience. I never really had a rhythm, just tried to build on limited minutes. We wanted to ease my body back into it. But having another off-season training, getting stronger, then having a training camp -- which is so important, you need training camp and a preseason. So I'll be involved in that next year, wherever I'm at."
Wherever that is, I'm not underestimating his chances for a Grant Hill type resurgence. I'm not saying he'll start, or even put up numbers like Grant has out in Phoenix since his series of injuries, but I do think Redd will put together a few more healthy and productive seasons in this league, simply because it seems to be his stated goal.
The odds aren't great that a thirty-year-old guy who's missed as much time as Redd has will play for three or four more years in the NBA, but then again, so was the likelihood of a 2nd round pick earning $100 million plus in the NBA. I gotta think somebody will take a chance on a guy that can shoot it like he can, and I can't imagine money being too much of a sticking point for him these days either.
My guess is that Michael Redd will have his choice between three or four veteran-minimum type deals from contending teams this summer to choose from, and I think he'll come off the bench to hit at least a few key baskets next season for whichever ends up being the second team he's ever played for in the NBA.
And on the chance there isn't any NBA takers, I do know a guy playing for Primo Veroli over in the Italian league that'd love to team back up with his boy...they were awesome together back in the day after all.