Cam Reddish opens up about trade from Hawks to Knicks: ‘It was just time to make a move for me’

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ATLANTA — Cam Reddish was the can’t-miss star out of high school in Pennsylvania. He was ranked third in that 2018 class, behind only Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.

Reddish’s trajectory was future NBA All-Star, and it was easy to envision for a perimeter shooter with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. But his situation went sideways, which brought Reddish, unexpectedly, to the Knicks.

“Not much,” Reddish said when asked what he’s accomplished as a pro. “It’s been a roller coaster. I’ve learned a lot.”

Reddish, the 10th overall pick in 2019, was acquired Friday by the Knicks for Kevin Knox and a future first-round pick, capping a 2 1/2-year stint with the Hawks that he had hoped would end sooner.

Now facing uncertainty on a Knicks roster teeming with players at his position, Reddish hasn’t lost the swagger of the blue-chip prospect.

“I feel like I can be a star. I feel like I could be a legit star,” he said. “That’s what I’m working to be. It’s pretty simple.”

So what happened in Atlanta? For the first time, Reddish acknowledged Saturday he requested a trade before the season. There were too many wing players and not enough minutes. Bogdan Bogdanovic, DeAndre Hunter and Kevin Huerter are all young and ahead of Reddish in the pecking order.

There wasn’t a clear path to grow into a vision of stardom.

“What went into [the trade request]? It was more just like a little more opportunity,” Reddish said. “No love lost at all with the Hawks. It’s just the business. That’s something I had to learn myself and to this second still learning how it works. I just think for myself professionally it was just time to make a move for me.”

It also meant a separation from Hawks coach Nate McMillan, who often used Paul George as the prototypical comparison to Reddish.

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“Same type of body, same type of game, the ability to score, be a two-way player,” McMillan said. “Those are things I always talked to him about. He has a ton of potential. This year, he talked to us during the summer that he wanted to go somewhere else. It was tough on him, to come in, and he was a professional. He was a pro. He didn’t do anything through the media. … We knew he probably wasn’t going to end the season with us.”

The deal to the Knicks, however, caught Reddish by surprise. In a matter of two days, Reddish flew to New York, took a physical, and returned to Atlanta as a visiting player Saturday — albeit injured and inactive — in the Knicks’ victory over the Hawks.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what was going on. I literally woke up to the news of the trade. So it was just kind of,” Reddish snapped his fingers, “I got to get to New York. It was overwhelming a little bit. 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.”

The opportunity with the Knicks is also difficult to plot. The Knicks, like the Hawks, have a rotation of other wings who eat up minutes, with Barrett, Alec Burks, Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes divvying up the time. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Reddish will have to earn his chances, which was another way of saying that the Pennsylvania product won’t be gifted minutes because he cost the Knicks a first-round pick.

“You have a finite amount of minutes available in each game — 240 minutes,” Thibodeau said when asked how he will fit Reddish into the rotation. “So you have to play whomever gives you the best chance to win. And nobody’s development is more important than someone else’s development. Everyone’s development is important. So winning has to come first. The team comes first. You play who gives you the best chance to win.”

Reddish seemed on board.

“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,” he said. “The rest takes care of itself.”

The first step is actually getting on the court. Reddish is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain, but remains hopeful for a quick recovery. The Knicks have four consecutive home games upcoming — starting with the Hornets on Monday afternoon — and perhaps Reddish will make his Garden debut this month with the home squad.

“It’s actually feeling a lot better,” Reddish said of his ankle. “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.”