Dudley said he played through the injury with the understanding he would be able to return to the team healthy before he was traded to the Bucks this offseason.
"I talked to Doc maybe a week and a half before I got traded," Dudley told Zach Lowe on his Lowe Post podcast on Grantland. "That was in August. He was basically like, 'Hey, you're young. I don't know what happened this season.' I basically told him, 'You know what happened. I wasn't right and I thought I would be able to come back.' "
Dudley was traded to the Clippers in 2013 from the Phoenix Suns as part of a three-team deal that sent Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Suns for Dudley and J.J. Redick, who came over from Milwaukee for two second-round draft picks. Dudley, however, was never healthy with the Clippers and had one of his worst statistical seasons, averaging 6.9 points on 43.8 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
"Here's the thing with the Clippers," Dudley said. "When I hurt my back in Vegas, I show up there in September trying to get with the training staff, and sometimes when you have an injury it leads to another injury, so basically I was nursing what I thought was tendinitis at the time in my knee, basically I really couldn't bend my knee 90 degrees so I had to deal with that for the first month or so. I basically went to Doc Rivers and said, 'Hey, I've never had to deal with this, I can't bend my knee, all my shots are short, I can't move laterally, I need to sit out.' At that time Matt Barnes was out with a calf injury and J.J. Redick was out with a herniated disk and he said, 'Hey, I need you to give me 10-15 games and when those guys come back, I'll give you a rest.' "
"Well, during that time I just couldn't guard anyone. I couldn't make a shot, all my shots were short and then confidence happened. By midseason, I get my X-ray and I had a little fracture in my knee so I knew what I was feeling was more than tendinitis. By midseason, [Rivers] brings in [Danny] Granger and I was sent to the pine. The trade [to Milwaukee] was the best thing for my career, where I got with a training staff that got me healthy and when I'm healthy, I'm the player you see now and the player you saw in Phoenix."
The Clippers sent Dudley and a protected 2017 first-round pick to the Bucks in a salary-dump move in August and Dudley has responded by having a bounce-back season for the surprising Bucks (30-23).
"Jared can play; we knew that," Rivers said in December. "Last year he starts out injured, then he gets injured again and he just really never caught up."
Dudley said the Bucks' training staff was able to heal his right knee within a couple of weeks of the trade after he was unable to feel right during his time in Los Angeles. Dudley is averaging a career-high 50.6 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from 3-point range while averaging 8.2 points per game this season for Milwaukee, currently the sixth seed in the East.
"Yeah," Dudley said when asked whether he takes any satisfaction in proving the Clippers wrong. "There definitely is."