Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Two summers ago the former Sixers’ GM Bryan Colangelo made a monster one-year $23m offer to the veteran floor-spacer out of Duke, JJ Redick. The Virginia native wasn’t the top free agent available, but he was just good and well-respected enough that his acceptance marked a bit of a paradigm shift in Philadelphia. The acquisition suggested that the team was finally planning to start turning things around from the intentional losing “The Process” beget and also that in-demand free agents around the league weren’t all turned off by the bottom-dwelling.
Things probably worked out better than most had expected. Redick became far more than the “vet mentor” some assumed he was signed to be. He was able to post arguably the two best seasons of his career, at the ripe ages of 33 and 34 years old in Brett Brown’s pace-and-space scheme.
Well the turnaround (has to date) peaked with the team’s heart-breaking second-round loss to the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors. Redick recently admitted that even though he has (amazingly) made the playoffs each year of his 13 year career, few were built to win a title. And he believes last year’s team was one of them.
But the Sixers offer to keep Redick in town just did not compete with that of the Pelicans.
According to a Sixers’ insider the team’s offer to Redick was for “around $20m over three years, with a player option for the third-year.” As readers know, Redick ultimately agreed to a two–year, $26.5 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Faced with that alternative, the Sixers’ offer wasn’t even in the ballpark.
The Sixers’ offer was roughly half of the Pelicans’ offer on a per year basis and what made it even less appealing was that the Sixers, per the same source, discussed with Redick the possibility of utilizing the stretch provision for the final year of his deal (if he were to opt-in) come 2021-2022. That’s not the type of thing a team can necessarily put in writing, but it’s a fair warning if a bit unorthodox.
Accepting Philadelphia’s proposal would have meant making less money over perhaps 5 years (two full seasons and then a third stretched into more) than Redick will now make in just two seasons with New Orleans. 
It seems unlikely that the Sixers expected Redick to accept their offer, especially given the discussion of a potential stretch down the line. That type of structure might well have dissuaded someone who was willing to give at least a small discount to a home town team, where Redick, 21st all time on the NBA’s made triple list, sounds like he would have preferred to stay if the “economics” were right.
Referenced above, an at times emotional Redick discussed the team’s loss to the Raptors and his free agency on a podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe that aired yesterday:
‘‘I think this year’s Philadelphia team was one of those [championship caliber] teams….There’s times it keeps you up at night.’’
Asked by Lowe about whether or not he had thought the Sixers Brass would “run it back” with the team that was so close to ousting the eventual champs, his answer was very interesting:
“….the Sixers under Josh [Harris] and [David Blitzer], if there’s been one consistent it’s been a lot of turnover in terms of player personnel….
….obviously, I would assume [Butler] wanted that 5th year from us and so that was sort of the wild card and I knew that if [Butler] had left that there was gonna be some sign-and-trade action and that would directly affect sort of what they could pay me. I never got the sense that they didn’t want to bring me back, unfortunately it came down to a little bit of economics.”
As Redick discloses on the podcast with Lowe, he understood the writing was on the wall once the team decided against retaining Butler (as doing so could have allowed the team to utilize Redick’s non-bird rights in order to exceed the salary cap).
Had Redick accepted this offer from the Sixers, (assuming they were also able to land Josh Richardson in a sign-and-trade with Miami) it would still have left the team about $23m to offer Al Horford in the first of a multi-year deal, per Jeff Siegel Founder of EarlyBirdRights.com.
As it stands now, Horford will earn $28m in the first year of his new deal. A major benefit to the current Horford deal for the team is that the 33 year old’s 4th year is only partially guaranteed at $14m, and his contract includes incentives that would allow him to unlock another $12m if the team were to win a title, per Woj.
If somehow the Sixers had been able to persuade Redick to take a major pay-cut and stay in town for roughly $6.7m per year, it would still have been possible to offer Horford the $97m guaranteed four-year-deal he signed. But that would have meant restructuring it. For example, offering more than the $14m partial guarantee Horford is currently ensured in 2022-2023, as opposed to the “front-loaded” deal he signed. (Put simply, if they wanted Richardson, Redick and Horford they could have paid Horford a bit less money now and a bit more money in subsequent years).
We can probably infer the team was willing to offer Horford a bit more in the last year of his deal if it meant getting a major discount on Redick in a likely bench role, presumably backing up Richardson. But in the end, the Pelicans offer was almost twice as much annually and simply too much for the Sixers to contend with. Now the newest-look Sixers prepare for life without Redick’s frenetic scrambling for jumpers which became a staple of their offense for two seasons. As for Redick, he gets a nice pay-day and to help spark another major turnaround with lots of fellow Blue Devils down in the ole’ Bayou.
 A player, if stretched is eligible to earn additional salary from a new team, though Redick’s earning power is expected to diminish before 2022, assuming he still wants to play beyond his age 37 season.