ATLANTA – Cam Reddish acknowledged his career didn’t take flight in Atlanta.
But with a new head coach, bigger city, bigger stage, the 6-foot-8 Reddish thinks the Knicks got back something special Thursday when they traded Kevin Knox and a conditional first-round pick for the small forward who just turned 22.
“I feel like I can be a star,” Reddish said in his first comments as a Knick after his new team routed the Hawks at State Farm Arena. “I feel like I could be a legit star. That’s what I’m working to be. It’s pretty simple.”
It hasn’t been simple at all for Reddish, who has battled injuries and a glut of wings in Atlanta. He requested a trade before the 2021-22 season started.
The No. 10 pick in the 2019 draft has played in 118 career games in his 2½ seasons, averaging 11.1 points on a substandard 38.5 percent shooting.
“I think I’m still on track,” Reddish added in an interview with the Knicks’ three traveling beat writers in the arena. “I’ll continue to put the work in. I think I’m still there for sure.”
One NBA talent evaluator said Reddish, ironically, reminds him of Knox in that neither has a very high motor on defense.
When asked what he feels he’s accomplished in his NBA career, Reddish said, “Not much. I feel it’s been a roller coaster. I learned a lot. I’m still blessed to be in this position. It’s big learning experience, and I’m ready for the next step.”
Reddish’s debut still is up in the air as he is battling a sprained ankle. But he took part in stationary shooting practice at State Farm Arena before the Knicks’ victory. Reddish sounded like he would play sooner than later.
“It’s actually feeling a lot better,” Reddish said. “I’m not sure how long I’ll definitely be out. But it’s definitely on the up and up. It’s in a good spot.”
On Saturday, Hawks coach Nate McMillan seemed forlorn discussing Reddish’s forced departure, saying he felt he could have turned him into a Paul George-type wing.
“Man, I love being Cam Reddish to be honest with you,” Reddish said when asked about the comparison to George. “But I do really like Paul George’s game. I do see where the similarities come from. Much respect to PG, but I love being me.”
The logjam in Atlanta also exists with the Knicks at the wing position. Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said he wasn’t looking to find the best place for Reddish but the best deal for the Hawks.
“I’m not expecting to come in playing 35, 40 minutes whenever the next game is, but I’ve just got to come in and work my tail off,” Reddish said. “The rest takes care of itself.’’
Indeed the Knicks are finally on a roll – a three-game winning streak and 8-3 record in their last 11 contests.
Reddish’s Hawks took out the Knicks in the playoffs last spring but Reddish liked what he saw sitting on the Knicks’ bench Saturday.
“I haven’t watched that much,” Reddish said. “I only got to watch one game. They play well together, which is what I love to do, play together, play like a team.”
In particular, RJ Barrett, his former college teammate at Duke, is sizzling, and ironically, they could battle for minutes.
“He looks confident,” Reddish said. “He’s always been confident. Aggressive. Always been aggressive. Obviously he’s become a better shooter. So just getting better. I love what I see from him.”
According to multiple sources, Reddish and RJ Barrett weren’t especially close at Duke. Barrett and Zion Williamson were very tight and, according to sources, Reddish was on the outside looking in. But that was three years ago.
Barrett said all the expected platitudes after the Reddish trade, mentioning the two talked on the phone after the deal’s announcement.
“I mean, we talked for like five minute,” Reddish said when asked about that conversation. “It was quick because I was pretty busy that day. He was just saying come in ready to play hard. We were just catching up for the most part. Just coming in, working hard, getting used to the city.”
Reddish flew Thursday from Atlanta to New York, then back to Atlanta for the game and then back to New York, though he won’t be ready for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee against Charlotte
Reddish grew up in Norristown, Pa. – a two-hour drive from Manhattan. He attended a couple of Knicks games as a kid.
“It was overwhelming a little bit,” Reddish said. “There’s a lot going on. I think I’m here for a reason so I’m just going to take advantage of the opportunity and have fun with it.”