CAMDEN — Josh Richardson found himself in an unexpected spot this month — the center of the NBA free agency craze.
The 6-foot-6 shooting guard is one of the 76ers’ most important offseason additions. Philadelphia acquired him this month in a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat for Jimmy Butler.
“It was hectic,” Richardson said. “There were a lot of calls and texts from my family and friends. All the social media stuff. But I’m grateful for the whole thing. It’s a good move for my career.”
Richardson, 25, averaged 16.6 points for the Heat last season. He has often been compared to Butler throughout his NBA career because they have similar skill sets.
“Life is a funny thing,” Richardson said of being traded for Butler. “This feels right.”
CAMDEN — When the Philadelphia 76ers played offense last season, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butle…
The Sixers celebrated their offseason moves with a news conference at their training facility Friday. Richardson took in the scene in stride.
“I’m a pretty laid-back person,” he said.
Richardson’s background should serve him well when it comes to dealing with the pressure of playing in Philadelphia.
He grew up in Oklahoma and played all four seasons at the University of Tennessee.
“I didn’t come in to college (as) a five-star (recruit),” Richardson said. “I was a two-star (recruit) out of high school, so I had to work for everything at every level.”
When Richardson was a Tennessee freshman, he met Sixers forward Tobias Harris, who had just left the Volunteers for the NBA.
“Just seeing (Richardson) in the gym and how hungry he was, he was always in there working,” Harris said. “One of the (Tennessee) coaches came to me one day and was like, ‘That kid Josh Richardson’s going to be a pro.’”
Richardson had just turned 17 when he met Harris. The two went to dinner.
“I didn’t really know anything,” Richardson said. “(Harris) just kind of talked to me about how to approach basketball, how to approach college, how to handle myself in life. And I always appreciated that.”
The Heat selected Richardson with the 40th overall pick in the 2015 draft. His scoring average improved each year after his rookie season.
Richardson figures to be a part of the Sixers’ starting five that will feature 7-0 Joel Embiid, 6-10 Ben Simmons, the 6-9 Harris and the 6-10 Al Horford. Richardson will play a critical role as he probably will be assigned to defend high-scoring point guards Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets and Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics.
“I like guarding smaller, quicker guards,” Richardson said. “I can use my length. I think I’m still quick for my size.”
Richardson knows that since he’s replacing Butler, the two will be compared to more than ever. Richardson will be counted to make up for some of the offense the Sixers lose with Butler’s departure. Butler often created shots for himself and teammates in the fourth quarter of playoff games and crucial regular-season games.
“I’m just excited to get to work,” Richardson said. “Honestly, I think Jimmy is a great player. I think our games are kind of comparable. Hopefully, I can just fill the spot the best way that I can.”