The Detroit Pistons on Friday traded troubled forward Dennis Rodman and Isaiah Morris to the San Antonio Spurs for Sean Elliott and David Wood.
“We hate to see him go,” Billy McKinney, the Pistons’ director of player personnel, said during a news conference at The Palace of Auburn Hills. “But it was best for all of us to get a new start.”
Last season was a troubled year for Rodman, who was the NBA’s leading rebounder averaging 18.3 per game, down from his 18.7 the previous year. He first threatened to retire last summer because he was upset that Coach Chuck Daly left to take a job with the New Jersey Nets.
Elliott, 27, a first-time All-Star player last year, was the Spurs’ second-leading scorer, averaging 17.2 points. Wood was San Antonio’s backup power forward, averaging 2.4 points and barely more than one rebound.
“It’s very difficult to replace one player who will give you 18 rebounds a game,” Detroit Coach Don Chaney said. “Now we’re going to do it the normal, regular way. We’re going to divide the rebounds among the team.”
Rodman skipped training camp last season and missed the first five games, frequently staying out of touch. He later explained that he was too upset over his divorce to play.
When Rodman finally reported, two weeks into the season, things perked up. The Pistons began winning, and Rodman began pulling down rebounds like a man possessed. Then Rodman pulled a calf muscle, and the Pistons went into a tailspin. At one point, he missed 14 games and the Pistons lost 11 of them.
The Pistons didn’t have much contact with Rodman, 32, this summer, stalling many trade talks. He also has see-sawed back and forth, saying he didn’t want to play for Detroit but refusing a trade.
Piston management showed their frustration with Rodman last month.
“It’s an unusual situation, to say the least,” Piston President Tom Wilson said earlier this month. “If we could make a deal and move on, then obviously that would be our preference and we would think that would be Dennis’ preference as well.”
Four times the Pistons thought they had traded Rodman to Phoenix. The last deal crumbled when it was discovered that the Suns’ Richard Dumas was having more drug problems.
Morris, a reserve forward, was acquired from the Miami Heat last season.