Miami Heat

The skinny on Josh Richardson from those that covered him

The skinny on Josh Richardson from those that covered him

How much do you really know about Josh Richardson? 

From his strengths and weaknesses to his potential fit and off-the-court hobbies, I caught up with those that covered him closely during his time with the Miami Heat, and there were several themes that stood out.

(*An asterisk denotes someone that’s covered Richardson, but requested anonymity.)

Good person

Above all else, every single person I talked to raved about what a great person the Sixers are getting in Richardson. The terms “great personality,” “nicest guy in the world,” “unbelievable guy,” were being doled out left and right.

“Josh is wide-eyed and everything is great to him. Just a good guy from [Oklahoma City] who is down to earth and is going to be everything you want in someone like that.”*

“There’s also a whimsical side to him, a silly side to him.”*

Two-way player

When you ask anyone about Richardson’s game, the first word that comes to mind is his defense. “He’s a great two-way player, who doesn’t defensively do it with the physicality that Jimmy (Butler) does it, but he does it with quickness, with steals, deflections, playing passing lanes, plus a very good plus wingspan …”*

One person told me that by, essentially, replacing Butler with Richardson, the Sixers haven’t lost anything defensively. “Great with steals, great team defender, and he probably still has a little bit in his ceiling to reach.”*

“Every time I did a story on Josh and I talked to people around the league, they mentioned him as one of the best two-way players in the league, just because he plays on both ends and he was a bargain on that contract,” Shandel Richardson of The Athletic said.

Fit in Miami

There was a very common theme that repeatedly surfaced regarding Richardson’s fit in Miami. According to multiple people who covered Richardson, the sentiment was that Richardson was, in essence, given the opportunity to be the alpha dog in Miami, but ‘it’s simply not a part of who Josh is.’*

“It was kind of unfortunate that he got thrust into a role this year, where he was kind of put as the go-to guy, and maybe he wasn’t ready for that role yet,” Shandel Richardson said. “People kind of looked down upon him about that. He’s still got a lot of room to grow, only 25 years old. I think he’s just a player that needs a little more time, that’s all.”

And that brings us to what you really want to know, his fit in Philly …

“Great fit.” “Perfect fit in Philly.” “He’s the kind of player who’s great for a team in a playoff race.” These were the kinds of phrases I heard over and over again.

Unlike in Miami, Richardson won’t be expected to be the leading scorer in Philadelphia.

“I think it’s a good fit, because Philly has other players that can score the ball, and he’s not going to go out and take 20-25 shots a game. Josh isn’t a guy that has to do that, but he felt like he was kind of pressing last year, because he was in that role,” Shandel Richardson explained. “You can slide Josh in and he can score off the ball and he’s a great defender. He fits in with those guys well and I think that’s why Philly went after him.”

This sentiment rang true with every person I contacted that covered Richardson.

 “I love the fit there for this reason: Josh Richardson was given a chance at the start of last season when Miami didn’t make the trade with Minnesota (for Butler) to be the alpha. And, by the end of the season, Dwayne Wade took that role because it’s simply not part of who Josh is. Josh Richardson is the perfect third or fourth wheel. I don’t know where he fits in with Tobias, but he’ll let Embiid get his, Simmons gets his, and then he’ll be the other guy willing to do any of the dirty work.”

“The Sixers are getting a player who is high effort, high energy, very good defender. His offensive game can be streaky, but when he’s on a roll, he’s on a roll. He can be a very effective mid-range and three-point shooter. I think he’s a perfect fit for the Sixers.” – Barry Jackson, Miami Herald

“I think he’s the kind of player who’s great for a team in a playoff race, because he’ll support you, play the two, play the three, and he’s played a bunch of point guard also. He played PG in his final year at Tennessee, so he certainly has that in him.”*

Areas to grow

Smarter plays (and specifically a propensity to dribble out of bounds) and better shot selection did come up quite bit as areas for improvement.

Bonus nuggets

He loves to DJ on the side, loves alternative rock music, grew up in a military household and still does charity work in Oklahoma.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

NBA free agency: After bizarre confusion, sign-and-trade with Jimmy Butler and Josh Richardson is a done deal, team source confirms

NBA free agency: After bizarre confusion, sign-and-trade with Jimmy Butler and Josh Richardson is a done deal, team source confirms

Jimmy Butler is headed to Miami and Josh Richardson will join the Sixers. We can now say that sentence with a little more confidence than we could in the early hours of Monday morning.

It's a bizarre story, perhaps even weirder than the December 2018 trade that reportedly fell apart because of confusion regarding whether Dillon Brooks or MarShon Brooks was involved. 

According to the New York Times' Marc Stein, the Mavericks originally thought they were receiving Derrick Jones Jr. and Kelly Olynyk from Miami in a three-team sign-and-trade, with the Sixers getting Richardson and the Heat adding Butler. Sounds simple enough.

However, Stein reports the Heat were not willing to give up Jones and said they needed to include Goran Dragic in the deal for salary-matching purposes. Dragic and Jones are much more difficult names to confuse than Brooks and Brooks.

Miami finally completed the deal late Monday afternoon, a team source confirmed. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe first reported the new deal, which includes the Clippers and Trail Blazers. Wojnarowski and Lowe report Portland's Maurice Harkless is headed to the Clippers, Miami's Hassan Whiteside is moving to Portland, while Miami is sending a future first-round pick to the Blazers.

The only change of note for the Sixers is that the team is sending 2017 second-round pick Mathias Lessort to Los Angeles, a team source confirmed. The Inquirer's Keith Pompey first reported Lessort's inclusion in the revised deal. A French big man, the 23-year-old Lessort averaged 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds last season for Unicaja Málaga in Spain's Liga ACB. The prospects of him ever playing for the Sixers seemed very slim.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Meet Josh Richardson, the Sixers' young and talented new wing

Meet Josh Richardson, the Sixers' young and talented new wing

There are assuredly Sixers fans that will be disappointed to see Jimmy Butler go.

Butler was outstanding for the Sixers in the playoffs and helped lead the team to a Game 7 against the eventual NBA champion Raptors.

But the four-time All-Star is gone thanks to a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat

Welcome, Josh Richardson.

The Sixers' newest wing is young, cheap and a pretty damn good player. He’ll turn 26 in September and he’ll make $10,116,576 in 2019-20 and $10,865,952 in 2020-21 with a player option at $11,615,328 for 2022. Since being drafted in the second round (40th overall) in the 2015 draft out of Tennessee, he’s been lauded for his defense but has steadily improved his offensive game.

From a defensive standpoint, you’re getting a player that’s emerged as one of the better wing defenders in the league. In a league where positionless basketball rules the day and long, switchable defenders are all the rage, Richardson is an ideal fit. You’ll remember the Sixers last season went to a more switch-heavy scheme with less-than-stellar results. Replacing JJ Redick, who signed with the New Orleans Pelicans, with a player like Richardson should help a whole lot. He’s also a maximum effort type of player who doesn’t take possessions off.

While defense has been his calling card since he got into the league, he’s developed more of his offensive game as the Heat’s roster has declined. He averaged career-highs in points (16.6), assists (4.1) and rebounds (3.6) per game while posting his highest usage rate (20.3) last season. The assists stand out most as Richardson was relied on more as a playmaker. His 1.5 turnovers a game is also a solid number considering his high usage rate.

The jumper has been inconsistent over his career, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism in that department. While his three-point percentage dipped from 37.8 to 35.7 this season, he also took over two more attempts a contest. It’s also worth noting that his free throw shooting has improved every season since he’s been in the league. He was at 86.1 percent last season, a number that borders on elite.

Think about how much more things will be opened up for Richardson, as well. With all due respect to retirement tour Dwyane Wade, Miami wasn’t littered with explosive offensive options. With players like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford, Richardson will be surrounded by skilled playmakers and shot makers. That should take the pressure off of him while also creating space on the floor.

While the Sixers likely aren’t quite done, the starting five of Richardson, Embiid, Simmons, Harris and Horford is an awfully good start to free agency.

While Richardson can’t be expected to provide what Butler did, he could become a pivotal piece as the Sixers try to assert themselves among the East’s elite.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers