Clippers’ J.J. Redick out indefinitely with bulging disk in his back, which could keep L.A. from hitting its stride

Just three weeks after returning from hand and elbow injuries, Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick found himself back on the shelf with a bum hip. Now, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, the sharpshooting wing will be sidelined at least that long with a bulging disk in his back:

Redick has missed the previous four games and was already ruled out of Tuesday's game against the San Antonio Spurs with a hip injury. But after seeing a specialist, concerns about his back prompted the team to take a more cautious approach to give him the best chance of being healthy for the playoffs, sources said.

"He has a bulging disk so until that calms down so he can get his movement back, he'll be out," Rivers said.

"That could be three days, two weeks, three weeks. No one knows. There's no set deadline on when he's coming back. He can be back quick or it could take a while. I don't think anybody knows." [...]

"I don't think we're going to put him out there until he's feeling great," Rivers said.

As I wrote back when Redick was sidelined by the arm injuries, the Clippers are pretty well-positioned to be able to handle the absence of their expected starting two-guard thanks largely to All-World bookends Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but also due to the presence of Jamal Crawford.

The Sixth Man of the Year candidate's production has trailed off when inserted into the starting lineup — he's shooting 39 percent from the floor and 33.1 percent from 3-point range as a starter, down from just under 44 percent and 38 percent off the bench, and has fallen from a tick below 24 points per 36 minutes of floor time to just under 20. But he still profiles as a floor-spacing threat who can attack defenders off the bounce, and serve as a complementary ball-handler alongside primary offensive initiators Paul and Griffin.

When Redick's been sidelined and with fellow offseason addition Jared Dudley struggling in his first season in L.A., Doc Rivers has turned in small does to a shuffled lineup featuring Crawford and swingman Matt Barnes alongside Paul, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan; that lineup has destroyed opponents, scoring at a league-leading level and allowing only slightly more points-per-possession than the NBA-best Indiana Pacers en route to besting the opposition by nearly 23 points per 100 possessions in 115 minutes. If you're not going to be able to get the hoped-for production from your top two summertime trade acquisitions, it's nice to be able to rely on ready and steady reserves like Crawford and Barnes. (This might be the first time anyone's ever called Matt Barnes "steady.")

Still, though, losing Redick hurts. The Clippers are 21-9 in Redick's 30 starts, and 16-10 with him out of the lineup. He's ninth in the league in points scored per touch, according to the NBA's SportVU player-tracking data, feasting off the attention his All-Star teammates demand and fitting in beautifully as a mover and cutter off-the-ball who can attack the rim. He's a 40 percent 3-point shooter that opponents can't afford to leave open, as well as a capable playmaker who rarely turns the ball over. While Rivers has other players who can help assume his responsibilities, doing so shortens L.A.'s bench and reduces the Clippers' opportunities to get everybody on the court at the same time for a long enough time to develop rhythm heading into the stretch run. From Seerat Sohi at ClipperBlog:

What does this mean for the Clippers? Unfortunately, much of the same. They’ll have to make due with a depleted unit. Tack on another 3-5 weeks before the Clippers get to experiment with their #fullsquad— a crew whose floor time has been encouraging but few and far between. The question becomes this: Whenever Redick returns, will the Clippers’ have enough time to tinker with their starters and find the most effective formula to compete for a championship? The Clippers have basically played on a string of found limbs this season and as time runs down, the question is becoming murkier and murkier.

Whether Redick's injury prompts the Clippers to look more aggressively for roster upgrades before Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline remains to be seen. Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reports that L.A. has engaged the New York Knicks in a deal that would import swingman Iman Shumpert and point guard Raymond Felton in exchange for a package featuring backup ballhandler Darren Collison. (Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that the Clippers would also send out rookie guard/forward Reggie Bullock.) Whatever path Rivers, Clippers vice president of player personnel Gary Sacks and the rest of the L.A. front office elect to take, it looks like they're going to have to work to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs without the sharpshooting Duke product. From :

“I’ve had that injury,” Rivers said. “I’ve had back surgery. I played 13 years with a herniated disc, but you play and there are days where it affects you and there are days where you go down the bad road and that’s where he’s right now. Again, he could wake up feeling better and he could be back in recovery and back soon. Or it could take a while.”

The Clippers are 21-9 in the 30 games Redick has started this season. He’s averaging a career-high 15.7 points per game while playing the second most minutes of his career and starting more games than any previous two seasons combined.

The minutes load and the preseason setback may have contributed to what Redick has twice termed a “frustrating” experience in his first season with the Clippers.

“Normally, I feel fresh every day,” Redick said last week. “I take care of myself. I feel fresh every day. And to have something like this, you just can’t control it. It’s just maddening to me.”

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Dan Devine

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