Carmelo Anthony has officially signed with the Houston Rockets.
This is not meant to focus on him, but the series of transactions used to land him in Houston are quite intriguing. Before Melo became a Rocket, he was first traded to the Atlanta Hawks. For five days, he was a member of the team. He was then bought out of his contract and thus free to sign wherever he chose. The Hawks’ official Twitter account made light of the situation with a tweet referencing what would have been Melo’s jersey.
It is in that brief stint with the Hawks that I’m reminded of another All-Star forward who was traded to them and then going to another team.
February 18, 2004. The Portland Trail Blazers’ management had finally grown weary of Rasheed Wallace’s boisterous personality and incessant magnetism for on-court trouble. They traded him to the Atlanta Hawks for three players, as Wallace had become a hot commodity for teams looking to bolster their roster for the playoffs. However, Atlanta was looking more to dump salary that year, so they were hoping to flip Sheed into a couple cheaper or expiring contracts. However, it took ten days to find a deal that matched their interests. During that time period, Rasheed Wallace played one game. I’d like to examine that game and other elements around such an uncommon deal, especially for a star player.
Sheed didn’t have that good of a game. Before I researched this, I swore in my head that Rasheed Wallace played an incredible single game for the Atlanta Hawks. Many of us view this one game through the lens of legendary lore, and the passing years only sweeten our nostalgia. Wallace played 42 minutes and scored 20 points, but it took 24 shots, including an abysmal-at-the-time 1 for 6 from three. He also had six rebounds and five blocks, but he did not dominate in the way I thought. Most importantly, the Hawks lost, albeit to the previous year’s Eastern Conference champions, the New Jersey Nets.
Source: Basketball Reference
Wallace took 24 shots. The reason why this is so startling isn’t the 24 shots in a nutshell. It’s the fact that number doubles Sheed’s career field goal attempts per game average. The factoid about Sheed that I find most interesting is that he never averaged 20 points per game for a single season. Yet anyone who watched him and played with or against him will tell you his four All-Star selections during a time in the NBA where the power forward position was as loaded then as the point guard position is loaded now were more than warranted. For as loud as Rasheed Wallace is, he was never overly selfish as a star player. To me, him taking that many shots for one game meant that Sheed understood his time in Atlanta would be short, and he was going to have fun with it while there.
Sheed’s statline of 20 points and 6 rebounds pale in comparison to the legend this singular game has. (SI.com)
Jason Kidd had a triple-double. That sentence isn’t shocking, as Kidd is one of Basketball’s most multi-faceted guards. But that feat, that is still impressive, was overshadowed partly because Sheed did not finish the season in Atlanta. Kidd also didn’t shoot well, going 4-18 from the field, but 13 rebounds from a point guard is still remarkable, even if that point guard amassed over 100 triple-doubles in his illustrious career.
Source: Basketball Reference
The first round pick that Detroit traded to receive Sheed turned out to be Josh Smith. Jay Bilas believed the man we grew to know as “J-Smoove” would be the biggest bust of his draft class. Smith certainly isn’t a Hall of Famer, but he had a longer career than most players selected higher than he was. It’s just interesting to explore the “what if” scenarios had trades not been made. Just like the Detroit Pistons didn’t select Carmelo Anthony because of Tayshaun Prince and that allowed them to better pursue Sheed, not trading that pick would have made for an interesting draft choice that year.