On Mar. 25, I wrote a line that “one thing about trades that intrigue me the most isn’t so much about the trades that happen. Rather, it’s about the trades that almost happen, but ultimately don’t.” Today is about another one of those trades that almost happened but didn’t. And while I don’t think someone like Lauri Markkanen would have altered Wizards franchise history, this almost-trade from nearly 20 years ago could have.
Retired NBA center Kwame Brown, who played for the Washington Wizards from 2001-05, mentioned on his YouTube Channel that then-President of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan wanted to trade him for then-Chicago Bulls forward Elton Brand before his rookie season. Brown was the No. 1 pick that year. Here is the snippet about that:
Kwame Brown on Michael Jordan/Wizards situation pic.twitter.com/NhiM1EaACU— SheauxLove (@SheauxLove) May 17, 2021
In short, Brown mentioned that he would have been traded, presumably to the Bulls in exchange for Brand, who averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in the 2000-01 season. Ultimately, Abe Pollin, the majority owner did not approve of the trade Jordan wanted. This was because the team made several big trades in the previous few seasons. In addition, Jordan was contemplating a comeback, which he did later in 2001. If Jordan got to play with Brand, who was a proven young star at that point, perhaps they could have helped the Wizards make a playoff run in the following two seasons. So I don’t see Hamilton getting traded to the Detroit Pistons before the 2002-03 season among other things.
In real life, Brand was traded from the Bulls to the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal that sent Brian Skinner and the draft rights to Tyson Chandler to Chicago. So, let’s say that this Brand to D.C. trade could have happened if Pollin were willing to see it through.
Despite mentioning this situation, Brown mentioned that he didn’t have hard feelings about it, though he was caught in the middle of an apparent dispute between Jordan and Pollin.
Brown’s entire YouTube video was over one hour long which was dedicated as a response to comments on other former NBA players like Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson and former Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas who all took shots at him recently on the All The Smoke Podcast. So you know, there is a lot of profanity in the video, so it’s NSFW.
Assuming everything Brown said is the truth, how do you think the Wizards would have done in 2000-01 with a trio of Jordan, third-year guard Richard Hamilton and Brand? I think Washington would have had enough to make at least the first round of the playoffs in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.
As for Brown, it would also have been interesting to see how he would have fared in Chicago. I don’t think he would have been an NBA All-Star caliber center and he would still be regarded as a “bust,” but I do think he would have still had a long career like he did in real life.