Seven trades that came back to haunt the San Antonio Spurs
4. San Antonio Spurs trade Sean Elliott for Dennis Rodman (1993)
Sometimes, front offices get a little too active for their own good. That was the case for the San Antonio Spurs in October 1993. Yes, at the time, trading away Sean Elliott, who was in the midst of kidney issues, for a two-time All-Star was a steal. The problem with this deal lies in how Dennis Rodman fit with the organization in that, well, he didn’t.
The full deal was as follows: The Spurs traded Sean Elliott, David Wood and a 1996 1st round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for Isaiah Morris, Dennis Rodman, a 1994 2nd round draft pick, and a 1996 1st round draft pick.
This was a trade that made almost no sense for Detroit from a basketball standpoint, as Rodman was coming off two straight seasons of leading the league in rebounds and helped them capture back-to-back titles in 1990 and 1991. However, his personality issues and clashes with the organization left them with no choice but to ship him somewhere.
That last point is also why the deal made no sense for the Spurs, either. San Antonio has rarely been tolerant of behavioral antics within their organization, and Rodman was the king of antics. Predictably, he clashed with David Robinson, Avery Johnson, and Gregg Popovich, among others.
“The city embraced me, but Popovich hated me,” Rodman once said in an interview with Joe Buck. “He hated my guts because I wasn’t a bible guy. They looked at me like I was the devil.”
Rodman lived up to his dominant rebounding reputation on the court for the Spurs, leading the league for both seasons, but the team’s chemistry took a massive hit. Fortunately for San Antonio, they had an opportunity to reunite with Sean Elliott in July 1994, when they traded Bill Burley and a 2nd round draft pick to get him back.
Rodman was shipped to Chicago in 1995, where he enjoyed the greatest team success of his career.
Next: No. 3