That time Scottie Pippen was almost traded to the Boston Celtics
If not overruled by Bulls ownership would Pippen and Longley have been Celtics in 1997?
Watching "The Last Dance" tonight the second episode focused on Scottie Pippen. One of the storylines that got people on Twitter talking was, "Krause tried to trade Pippen after championship 5?! What were the offers?" Well I recall the Celtics were actually the team that got closest to trading for Pippen right after the Bulls had won in 1997. Here are the details via the New York Times:
A frantic night of trade talks throughout the National Basketball Association led to one very interesting possibility involving the Bulls' Scottie Pippen. Those close to the situation said Boston Coach Rick Pitino was mulling a deal in which he would send his team's third and sixth picks in tonight's draft to Chicago for Pippen and center Luc Longley.
In Episode 2 tonight, Jerry Reinsdorf essentially takes the credit for putting the kibosh on any Pippen trade offers prior to the Bulls quest for their 6th championship. Michael Jordan was also in the equation. Does he really re-sign with the Bulls to play with rookies instead of Pippen? In the end the Bulls decided to run it back.
It was an odd trade idea for the rebuilding Celtics. The thought that Pitino took the Celtics job because he was expecting to coach Tim Duncan is pretty ridiculous if true. Pitino not having the patience to rebuild without a surefire star like Duncan and trading two high lottery picks for a soon to be thirty-two year old Pippen was so Pitino. Sure Danny Ainge traded for a couple players in their young 20's in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and that worked out well, but those Celtics already had a star in Paul Pierce and they were adding not one, but two more all-stars. Pippen would be joining a team who's best prospect was Antoine Walker coming off his rookie year.
Also Pitino wanted to bring his press style to the Celtics and how was that going to fly with Pippen a year later when he was a free agent? I can't imagine Pippen wanting to play for Pitino and his system in his mid 30's.
Antoine Walker, Nazr Mohammed, Adrian Griffin, & Scottie Pippen. 3 of these guys were almost teammates.
Spoiler: Nazr wasn't one of them
Now in 1997-1998, Pippen was still a superstar for sure. He declined after that season (bad year in Houston followed by some very good but not prime Pippen years in Portland). Hypothetically I suppose the 1997-1998 Celtics could have thrown out a re-signed David Wesley and Rick Fox (or Dee Brown), Pippen, Walker, and Longley as a starting 5. That team would have likely made the playoffs that first season, but then like I wrote I think Pippen bounces after that year. Or the Celtics sign Pippen to a huge contract and they become a treadmill team as Pippen declines.
Also one other huge point on why we're lucky the Bulls didn't pull the trigger on that offer? If the Celtics make the playoff in 1997-98 led by Scottie Pippen well then Boston doesn't have a 1998 lottery pick and Paul Pierce gets drafted before the C's pick.
#1 reason why it was a good thing that the Celtics didn't trade for Pippen in 1997