Monday, August 19, 2013

Barkley Traded From Suns


On Aug. 19, 1996, the Phoenix Suns trade superstar forward Charles Barkley -- along with a second round draft pick -- to the Houston Rockets for Robert Horry, Sam Cassell, Chucky Brown, and Mark Bryant. Barkley, at the time a 10-time All-Star, had demanded a trade since he learned that the Suns were interested in dealing him. "The bottom line was, I initially wanted to finish my career in Phoenix," Barkley said. "But I told them if they were going to shop me, I would never play there again."

With the move, the Rockets added one of the greatast players of all time to a roster that already featured Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Had the deal been made just a year or two sooner, the Rockets might have had one of the greatest trios in NBA history. 

Instead, Olajuwon, Drexler and Barkley were all in their thirties and were not the players they once were. The trade gave them an initial boost, as the Rockets won 57 games and advanced to the conference finals in 1997. But after that, the team progressively got worse and worse until they missed the postseason in 2000.

As for the Suns, the deal did nothing for them either. Although they remained competitive and made the postseason in 10 of the next 12 seasons, the main players they received in the trade -- Sam Cassell and Robert Horry -- were nothing more than trade bait. 

In December, Cassell was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Jason Kidd and was later sent to the New Jersey Nets. Horry, meanwhile, had a memorable incident with Suns coach Danny Ainge where he threw a towel at him during a game; he was traded to the L.A. Lakers not long after that.