PORTLAND, Ore. — Cam Reddish admits that his two-month banishment to the bench with the Knicks earlier this season was “messed up,” but he’s happy to be receiving a regular opportunity now with the Blazers.
Reddish had a quiet game Tuesday with just two points in 19 minutes off the bench in his first appearance against the Knicks since he was sent to Rip City as part of the deal that brought Josh Hart to New York last month.
“Fun, refreshing. Trying to think of some other words to describe it, but that’s pretty much it right there,” Reddish said before the Knicks’ 123-107 win. “I hadn’t played for so long, like, it’s still not all the way there. I’m just happy to be playing and blessed to be playing.
“I would say conditioning, physically, I’m close to being full-go. But it’s more mentally for me, just trying to free my mind up. I was in a messed-up kind of place mentally for a long time, and I’m still getting there.”
The 23-year-old wing is averaging 12.8 points and shooting .361 from 3-point range in 14 games (11 starts) since the deadline deal that sent him to Portland along with Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk and a top-14 protected 2023 first-round draft pick on Feb 8.
Reddish had been benched by Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau for more than two months since Dec. 3 after making 20 appearances with eight starts earlier this season.
“It definitely was hard,” said Reddish, who was acquired by the Knicks from the Hawks at last year’s traded deadline. “But I just kind of treated it like an offseason. I was working out every single day, trying to be ready for this moment.
“Obviously, nothing’s like a game. But it was hard, more mentally than anything. So I’m still kind of crawling my way out of it a little, I don’t want to say a hole, but I’m still getting back to my usual self.”
Reddish has been quoted since the trade as saying he believes politics and favoritism were factors in his benching and exit from the Knicks, but he declined to expound on those quotes Tuesday night.
He credited Knicks assistant coach Rick Brunson for pushing him to work out and stay ready for his next opportunity,
“I did know it was coming, I didn’t know how it was going to look, where it was going to be,” Reddish said. “It could’ve been in New York, I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew I had to be ready. Rick did a phenomenal job, he was staying on me, I was with Rick all the time, talking, I was just trying to get through that period of time. Now it’s in the past.
“And I love it here, man, they treat me like family. I can’t ask for nothing more than that. It’s a positive atmosphere. Continue to get better as time goes on and I’ve been loving it here so far.”
Thibodeau regularly gushes about the all-around contributions that Hart has made to the Knicks.
When asked about Reddish before Tuesday’s game, Thibodeau replied: “He’s played very well. Happy for him. I think it was one of those trades that was good for both teams, and that’s what you like. So, we got what we needed, and I think they got what they needed.”