Michael Redd says he can still play
Despite two separate injuries to his left knee that have cost him large chunks of three straight seasons -- and playing only sporadically off the bench since he returned last month from the second injury -- Redd still believes he can be a regular contributor in the NBA.
"Absolutely," Redd said. "For me right now, these last eight, nine games for me were like a training camp-type experience. I never really had a rhythm, just tried to build on limited minutes. We wanted to ease my body back into it. But having another offseason training, getting stronger, then having a training camp -- which is so important, you need training camp and a preseason. So I'll be involved in that next year, wherever I'm at."
Redd is in the final season of a six-year, $91 million deal he signed in 2005. The Bucks aren't expected to re-sign him, so Wednesday night's season finale at Oklahoma City probably will be his last game in a Bucks uniform after 11 seasons.
I wouldn't trade anything. Just had a tremendous journey over these 11 years. [The Bucks have] seen me grow up, because I've been here since I was 20 years old. It's been an amazing journey. Some ups, some downs. But through it all, the fans have been great, the organization's been great to my family and it's pretty awesome.” -- Michael Redd
In the Bucks' final home game of the year, Redd played a quiet 14-plus minutes and scored two points on 1-for-6 shooting in Monday night's victory over Toronto. He received a warm round of applause before the game and a small pocket of fans chanted for him late in the fourth quarter.
"It's been a glorious 11 years," Redd said. "I wouldn't trade anything. Just had a tremendous journey over these 11 years. They've seen me grow up, because I've been here since I was 20 years old. It's been an amazing journey. Some ups, some downs. But through it all, the fans have been great, the organization's been great to my family and it's pretty awesome."
Redd sounds ready to move on to another team, but is looking forward to spending some time with his family first. After spending the summer of 2008 playing for Team USA in the Olympics, Redd tore ligaments in his left knee in January 2009 -- then did it again in January 2010.
In all, Redd has played in 60 games, with 44 starts, since the beginning of the 2008-09 season. And after all that time rehabilitating injuries, Redd's ready for some down time.
Of course, there's a chance Redd -- and the rest of the league -- could have plenty of time to rest, as the NBA could be headed toward a work stoppage.
Although it isn't at the top of his mind, Redd clearly is aware of the labor situation.
"Obviously, it's a concern for all the players and parties involved," Redd said. "I'll side with the players and want to make sure everything's right for us and fair for us. But I haven't worried about it too much."
Redd was a second-round pick by the Bucks in 2000, and teammates marvel at his longevity in Milwaukee.
"Being a second-round pick and being in an organization this long, that says a lot," Drew Gooden said. "That's almost unheard of. I don't know who else has done that. That's a huge, huge, huge accomplishment for Michael Redd."
Bucks coach Scott Skiles isn't one to get misty-eyed over Redd's farewell; asked before Monday's game if he would give Redd a ceremonial start or some extra playing time, Skiles responded bluntly, "We're going to try to win the game."
But Skiles did say he respects how hard Redd worked to get back.
"He looks 100 percent to me," Skiles said. "That, alone, is an accomplishment, for him to be able to come back. In the practice times that we've had, the shootaround times that we've had, he looks good. He has energy and, as I said, looks 100 percent. If you came and watched us, or watched a game, and had never seen us play before, you couldn't pick out the guy who'd been out all that time."
Redd said he understood why Skiles only used him on a limited basis since he returned.
"I could be out there playing, but if you haven't had a training camp or a preseason, it's hard to find your rhythm," Redd said. "And I got thrown into it. It's a difficult situation because I didn't want to disrupt the chemistry of the team, try to push my own agenda and trying to shoot shots. Just want to play and have fun, and coach Skiles has been great for me, and [general manager] John Hammond. We're on the same page."
In all, Redd says he appreciates the support he has received from the organization -- especially from the team's owner, Sen. Herb Kohl.
"Senator Kohl has had many opportunities, probably, to trade me, and he didn't," Redd said. "He stuck with me and I appreciate him for that. I came back after being a free agent six years ago, wanted to win and be a part of this organization. It's been an awesome journey."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press