Some of the trades in the NBA are amazing. Frankly, that is one of the reasons the NBA is so intriguing. The off-court action can be as active and interesting as the on-court action. It certainly makes July and August more interesting.
More than any other sport, no contract is immovable and any player can get moved.
Wilt Chamberlain was traded twice. Shaquille O’Neal three times. It happens. No contract is untradeable and no player is immune to being moved — whether they force their way out like Kevin Love or Dwight Howard or they are just shipped on.
Sometimes, guys move quicker than others though. Way too quick. Like you did not even realize he actually could have worn that jersey quick.
Andrew Wiggins is the latest to join this club. There are some surprisingly decent players and some surprisingly big deals involved in these quick cameos. Wiggins could very well be the latest to add to their esteemed ranks as the Cavaliers are set to ship him to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love and a realistic shot at a championship this year (rather than waiting on Wiggins to develop while James exercises his crazy year-to-year contract scheme).
And Wiggins is excited for the opportunity to be a featured player, as Kansas coach Bill Self told the Associated Press last week:
“When all this trade stuff started, I talked to Andrew and Andrew told me, ‘I hope I get traded,’ ” Self told the AP. “And I’m like, ‘No you don’t.’ And he said, ‘Coach, I do. It’s better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I’m forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they’re going to be patient with me and I’m going to be a piece.’”
A quick review of the company Wiggins is keeping:
Kobe Bryant, Charlotte Hornets
Ever heard of him? Bryant was traded on draft night. That is right, traded on draft night. You probably have never seen a photo like this one:
“Cleveland is making the same mistake that Charlotte made with me.” -Kobe Bryant on possible Andrew Wiggins deal. pic.twitter.com/OX4Nzvm18E
— For The Drunks (@ForTheDrunks) August 16, 2014
The Lakers and Hornets decided not to let that happen. Los Angeles was doing a bit of a firesale to clear cap space for Shaquille O’Neal and they wanted to get rid of Vlade Divac. The Hornets were not interested in developing a 17-year-old guard right out of high school. Jerry West WANTED Kobe Bryant. So he got him.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Bryant is one of the greatest scorers and shooting guards of all time. He has set numerous Lakers records and won five NBA championships. Even with a torn Achilles at 35 years old, Bryant is raring to go for another season. And his sights have not been set any lower. The Hornets organization is probably kicking themselves for not having the patience.
And if Wiggins is anything like Bryant, Bryant’s words about Wiggins could be prophetic. Then again, Kevin Love is a little bit better than Vlade Divac so . . . never mind.
Rasheed Wallace, Atlanta Hawks
Rasheed Wallace is one of the great characters in NBA history. He made his name in Portland, but cemented his legacy in Detroit where he won a championship, really being the tipping point for that 2004 title run (a piece that fit perfectly and pushed the team over the top).
Of course, getting from Portland to Detroit was not easy. It included a pit stop in Atlanta for all of 10 days and one game in a Hawks jersey before Atlanta shipped him off to Detroit. Wallace went on to average 13.0 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game as the Pistons won the title.
You could argue Wallace helped push them over the edge to win that title and upset the Lakers. The last piece of a perfect puzzle. Its missing piece to spread the floor and give Chauncey Billups all the room to drive and Richard Hamilton all the room to cut all over the place.
He also gave them some swagger.
But if you have a No. 36 Wallace Hawks jersey, good on you.
Steve Francis, Vancouver Grizzlies
The Grizzlies had the second pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. This was going to be their chance to rebuild for the first time as a franchise. Their first chance at a superstar player. Francis was a great opportunity.
Except Francis had no desire to go play for Vancouver. He did not want to go to Canada. From the moment he was handed the hat with Vancouver emblazoned on it, he was moping. He was not happy like the typical draftee would be.
The moping continued and Francis would never play in a Grizzlies uniform. He forced a trade to the Rockets in a three-team deal that netted Vancouver Antoine Carr, Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, Brent Price and a 2013 1st round pick that became Marcus Banks. To say the least, none of those players were very good.
Certainly not franchise players. Not that Francis ever was. He only made the Playoffs once, and it occurred after Yao Ming arrived. He did make three All-Star Games. The Grizzlies struggled for a very long time waiting for that second pick to cash in. Lottery luck never really struck again for them.
This was a fun summer for the veteran small forward.
Quentin Richardson was traded five times in one summer. FIVE TIMES!
Richardson has always been a spot starter throughout his career, but he was a valuable player. And being on the last year of his contract made him really valuable. Take a look at the players that were moved for Richardson this summer.
He started in New York where he was traded to the Grizzlies for the always-disappointing Darko Milicic. About a month later, the Grizzlies discovered they had little use for him and sent him packing back to the Clippers for Zach Randolph, who has only come to define the Grizzlies. Apparently, the Clippers figured out three days later that they could net something for him and shipped him to Minnesota for Mark Madsen, Craig Smith and Sebastian Telfair.
Finally, another month later, the Wolves found someone to take Richardson off their hands. They traded him to the Heat for Mark Blount.
He played the year in Miami, where he got into a fight with Paul Pierce during the Playoffs. And a lot of frequent flyer miles apparently.