The Detroit Pistons traded disgruntled forward Dennis Rodman, the NBA’s leading rebounder the last two seasons, to the San Antonio Spurs for All-Star forward Sean Elliott on Friday night.
The Spurs also acquired reserve forward Isaiah Morris for reserve forward David Wood and exchanged draft picks with Detroit. San Antonio has the option to swap its 1994 draft pick with the Pistons unless Detroit’s pick is in the top 10. In that case, the Spurs and Pistons would trade draft picks in 1995, unless the Pistons’ pick is in the top eight. In that event, the Spurs and Pistons would trade 1996 draft picks, with no restrictions.
A five-time member of the NBA’s all-defensive team, Rodman helped the Pistons win NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. But he wore out his welcome with his bizarre behavior.
Rodman left a suicide note last February, and police later found him sitting in the parking lot at the Palace of Auburn Hills with a loaded rifle in the back of his truck. Suspended twice for insubordination, Rodman removed his shoes and read a magazine after being taken out of a game at Washington last season.
“We hate to see him go,” Billy McKinney, the Pistons’ director of player personnel, said at a news conference. “But it was best for all of us to get a new start.”
Rodman asked to be traded after Coach Chuck Daly resigned before last season, and the Pistons nearly worked out a deal to send him to the Phoenix Suns for Richard Dumas, but it collapsed after Dumas entered drug rehabilitation last month and the Suns signed Laker forward A.C. Green.
The Spurs were the NBA’s worst offensive rebounding team last season.
“Everybody thought we were a marshmallow team,” Spur General Manager Bob Bass said. “In making this trade we feel we have really improved in (rebounding).”
Spur Coach John Lucas and Bass met with Rodman in San Diego Thursday before making the deal and received assurances that Rodman, a native Texan, would be happy playing in San Antonio.
“He said he just wanted to win and would show us how to win,” Bass said. “In Dennis Rodman, I think we have one of the most unique players that has ever played basketball.
“He proved his value to Detroit last year. They were 4-15 without Rodman and 36-26 with him, and their defensive average was 98 points with Rodman and 112 points without him. Those are astounding statistics.”
A seven-year veteran, Rodman averaged 18.7 rebounds in 1992 and 18.3 rebounds in 1993 to lead the league. He also made the All-Star team in 1990 and 1992.
“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.”
The Spurs’ second-leading scorer behind All-Star center David Robinson, Elliott averaged 17.2 points last season. However, the Spurs say Elliott’s departure will mean more shots for Robinson and Dale Ellis.
“We’re talking about a player who is able to handle the basketball, pass the basketball and put it on the floor,” Chaney said of Elliott. “He’s a guy who can create his own shots. When you put a guy like that on the floor, it makes the game easier for other players.”