Never ORNG: Those Who Were Phoenix Suns Only Technically


You know that scene in really bad action movies where the reluctant former special forces soldier is forced back into active duty when his wife/girlfriend/daughter/mother/llama/lover is kidnapped by [insert foreign nation the US has strained relations with at the time]? Well if you sub out "reluctant former special forces solider" for "reluctant former mediocre blogger" and "wife/girlfriend/daugther/mother/llama/lover is kidnapped" for "Caron Butler is traded" then that's what this post is.

As a staggeringly few of you know - for a brief moment in time I wrote for Bright Side of the Sun. Now my ability is not at the level of Dave, Kris, Jim, Jacob, Richard so don't expect 8,000 words on how effective PJ Tucker is on the side pick & roll based on which bench seat he sat on during his previous rest. No my friends, I have a very particular set of skills, skills that make me a nightmare for page views and SEO metrics. My interest lies in the obscure - and more specifically the obscure history of our Phoenix Suns.

In fact, the title to this post is based on and a sort of sequel to this post which if math serves me right was written before many of you were born.

The premise of the post is as follows - who were the select few players who were acquired by the Phoenix Suns in a trade and then either dealt or waived before they had the opportunity to play in a regular season game. Just for fun we can call them the Ben Wallace All-Stars.

Like with any post where I'm putting together a list of things (I'm like Bleacher Report without the charm) there are rules I followed. Those rules are:

  • The player must have been acquired by the Phoenix Suns in a trade (see ya training camp bodies)
  • The player must have previously played in the NBA before the Suns acquired him (thus knocking out draft rights acquisitions).
  • I'm also not counting guys the Suns traded away the draft rights to. So if you say something about Rajuel DenRondo I'm chiding you in the comments.

That's it unless I decide to change the rules. If you don't like the rules please feel free to shove it and if you find a mistake then you might need to get yourself checked as you could be Rainman. There are a lot more guys lately than there were in the early days - blame the salary cap and stuff.

Without further adieu (and this was nearly 400 words of adieu) - the Ben Wallace All-Stars in chronological order:

Dave Stallworth (forward/center)- September 6, 1974 - October 10, 1974

Who he was: Stallworth was a skilled big who was taken 3rd overall by the Knicks in the 1965 NBA Draft; 7 picks before New York snagged the original Sun Dick Van Arsdale. Stallworth played 2 relatively effective seasons with the Knicks before suffering a HEART ATTACK. He missed two seasons before coming back in 1969-70 to win a title with the Knicks. He was dealt to the Bullets the next season for Earl Monroe and played there for a couple years before being shipped off to Phoenix.

How he was acquired: The Bullets sent Stallworth and a 1975 2nd round draft pick (used on something called Allen Murphy) to the Suns for Clem Haskins. You may remember Clem Haskins as the disgraced former Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball coach or from being way too high on this list.

Why he was cut loose: Info is obviously spotty but my guess is that the Suns didn't really have a huge need for a washed up forward. Plus Jerry Colangelo did always have a fetish for trading guards (Haskins) for forwards.

What happened next: The Knicks welcome him back home and he played 57 glorious minutes before riding off into the sunset. The fact that he played 366 NBA games AFTER suffering a heart attack was impressive enough.

Andre Wakefield (guard)- August 24, 1979 - October 12, 1979

Who he was: A dude from Chicago. The Suns actually drafted him in the 5th round of the 1978 draft but liked him so much he was waived in October of that year. The Bulls picked him up and after two games with them also decided to waive him. Detroit picked him up and under what I can only assume was a joke - played him in 71 games. Perhaps not so coincidentally, those Pistons went 30-52 under the tutelage of Dick Vitale (yes that guy).

How he was acquired: Apparently the Suns saw something they hadn't in him previously as Phoenix dealt a 1980 4th round pick to Detroit to get Wakefield back.

Why he was cut loose: Probably for LOLs. Maybe Jerry just enjoyed throwing Wakefield out on his ass so much the first time he wanted to do it a 2nd time.

What happened next: He surfaced in Utah a few weeks later and got in 8 games with that squad before hanging up his NBA sneakers. Apparently he went on to some sort of coaching career with Loyola-Chicago (his alma mater) and the women's team at Depaul.

Wiley Peck (guard) - June 9, 1980 - September 8, 1980

Who he was: A professional basketball player sort of? I seriously don't know on this one and Google is very little help. He played college basketball at Mississippi State, got picked in the first round of the 1979 draft by San Antonio, played 52 mediocre games for the Spurs, and then got snagged by Dallas in the 1980 expansion draft.

How he was acquired: Dallas traded him to Phoenix in exchange for a 1981 2nd round draft pick. That 2nd round draft pick turned out to be former Suns assistant Elston Turner who had an unimpressive NBA career but certainly more impressive than Wiley Peck.

Why he was cut loose: Very little information to go off of here but it pretty much has to be because he's was just flat out awful. Pretty swell general managering to trade a second round pick for a guy so bad he can't make it through September.

What happened next: I really don't know. I'm pretty sure he's still alive though so that's a thing. Buy his basketball card on Amazon - you'll be the only one.

Trent Tucker (guard)- October 1, 1991 - November 15, 1991

Who he was: Good shooter for the Knicks and decent player. Played 9 years for New York and to be honest is mainly known for being the namesake of the Trent Tucker Rule which is you hate clicking on links established the amount of time required to catch and shoot a shot. Here's the shot in all its choppy glory.

How he was acquired: The Knicks traded Tucker, Jerrod Mustaf(!!), a 1992 2nd round pick, and a 1994 2nd round pick to the Suns in exchange for the failed experiment that was Xavier McDaniel.

Why he was cut loose: Tucker was actually on the Suns roster for the first 8 games of the 1991-92 season but was out with injury. Clearly the organization didn't think much of his talent even when healthy. Man you've got to think the Suns could have gotten more for the X-Man than a bench warmer, 2 awful 2nd round picks and a guy who lasted 6 weeks.

What happened next: The Spurs picked him up later in that same season and he played 24 decent games for them. Chicago picked him up for 1992-93 and I'm told won some sort of NBA championship in which 3 games were played in the Southwest region of the United States. Tucker had 9 points in 7 minutes (on 4/4 shooting) in the deciding 6th game of that forgotten series.

Darrin Hancock (guard/forward)- December 4, 1996 - December 11, 1996

Who he was: Hancock had quite the pedigree, he was a McDonald's All-American and a starter on Kansas' 1993 Final 4 team. He left Kansas after that season for "personal reasons", transferred to Indiana State and then instead of ever suiting up there said eh screw it and played in Europe. After a season in France's B-League he was drafted in the 2nd round by the Hornets. He lasted a couple sub-par seasons in Charlotte before signing with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1996.

How he was acquired: Milwaukee sent Hancock and a conditional 1997 2nd round draft pick to the Suns for Chucky Brown (who himself was a throw-in during the Charles Barkley trade).

Why he was cut loose: He was already injured and also not very good, lasting an entire week. Comically the 2nd round pick was highly conditioned and was never exercised so the Suns traded Chucky Brown for literally nothing.

What happened next: He signed with the Hawks for even less time than he spent in Phoenix (5 days), landed in San Antonio for a month, and then back in Atlanta that same year. 6 games in the 1997 playoffs marked the end of Hancock's NBA days. Apparently he romaed the fringes of American minor league basketball for the next 8 years, playing in the CBA and USBL.

Bubba Wells (forward)- June 24, 1998 - January 23, 1999

Who he was: Small school stud from Austin Peay who averaged 31.7 points per game in his senior year before parlaying that into a 2nd round selection by the Mavericks. He played 39 games for Dallas - during one of which he managed to set an NBA record by fouling out in 3 minutes (video here). Sweet strategy Nelly. Tragically I don't think he's related to Bonzi - I thought he was but I found no evidence of it.

How he was acquired: Dallas gave the Suns Mark Bryant, Pat Garrity, Wells, Martin Muursepp (he's next), a 1999 first round pick (turned into Shawn Marion) and we gave them the current point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Why he was cut loose: Clearly he was just filler and not worthy of taking minutes from guys like Marko Milic or Shawn Respert (actual 1998-99 Phoenix Suns).

What happened next: The Suns used him, Bryant, Muursepp and a 1999 first round pick (this one turned into Ron Artest - I can't calm him the other thing and you can't make me) for Luc Longley. See previous reference to Colangelo center fetish. Wells never played a game for them either and like Hancock did the American minor leagues thing - he was even briefly a Harlem Globetrotter. Austin Peay has employed him as an Assistant Men's Basketball coach since 2005.

Martin Muursepp (forward)- June 24, 1998 - January 23, 1999

Who he was: A pretty decent European basketball player from Estonia who was picked by the Jazz in the first round of the 1996 draft. He pinballed from Utah to Miami to Dallas, playing in 83 games over 2 seasons before being used as fodder in the current Los Angeles Lakers point guard deal.

How he was acquired: Same as Wells. Dallas gave the Suns Mark Bryant, Pat Garrity, Wells, Martin Muursepp (he's next), a 1999 first round pick (turned into Shawn Marion) and we gave them the current point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers

Why he was cut loose: Also the same as Wells. Got to stockpile assets if you're going to get Luc Longley in that door.

What happened next: He returned to Europe where he won some championships I've never heard of in Greece and Russia. Muursepp is a 7-time Estonian Basketball Player of the Year - beating out such fierce competition as you and I. He didn't retire from active play until 2010 and transitioned into coaching.

Johnny Newman (forward/guard)- July 18, 2001 - September 28, 2001

Who he was: A mostly journeyman swing man who was drafted in the 2nd round in 1986 and then went on to play 16 NBA seasons for a variety of teams. You probably remember him as a Hornet from the early 90s where he was actually a pretty decent scorer (peaked at 16.9 per game in 1990-91). You could have told me Johnny Newman retired in 1994 and I wouldn't have batted an eye.

How he was acquired: New Jersey traded Stephon Marbury, Newman, and Soumaila Samake to the Suns for the low, low price of Chris Dudley and Jason Kidd. Most would acknowledge that this trade was made due to Jason Kidd's off the court troubles.

Why he was cut loose: Apparently having Jud Buechler and Vinny Del Negro's old veteran asses on the 2001-2002 Suns was plenty of veteran mediocrity for one squad.

What happened next: Dallas picked up the 38 year-old and he played 47 games for them (actually starting 17) for a second round-bound Mavs team.

Soumaila Samake (center)- July 18, 2001 - October 29, 2001

Who he was: The baddest Malian basketball player on the planet. Mali is apparently a country in Africa and I'm assuming their primary export is basketball badassery. New Jersey was lucky enough to draft him in the 2nd round of the 2000 NBA draft - ahead of Eddie House and Eduardo Najera. In his rookie season with the Nets he torched the baskets for 46 points including a comical 37.5% field goal percentage (he was 7 feet tall!) and 41.7% free throw shooting.

How he was acquired: Same as the Johnny Newman deal. Can't believe the Nets were willing to part with him.

Why he was cut loose: He actually lasted a while longer than Newman, lasting all the way until late October before being dealt to Chicago along with a 2003 2nd round pick for the right to have Jake Voskuhl on the squad.

What happened next: He played professional basketball for a lot more years with a lot of different teams in a lot of different countries. Here's a random YouTube clip of him shooting a free throw.

Charlie Ward (guard)- January 5, 2004 - January 6, 2004

Who he was: A Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from Florida State. His basketball highlights are kind of boring so watch him run around The Rock. If he had played college football in 2012 instead of 1993 he probably would have been an NFL quarterback - instead he was a mediocre NBA point guard for 11 years. He was a useful piece for the Knicks for a number of years and a starter on their 1999 team that made the NBA Finals. I'll go ahead and call his career a success based solely on the fact that he made $34 million dollars during it.

How he was acquired: The Knicks traded Ward, Howard Eisley, Maciej Lampe, Antonio McDyess, Milos Vujanic, a 2004 1st round pick, and a 2010 first round pick (both first rounders went to Utah in a deal to be discussed later in this post) to the Suns for Penny Hardaway, Stephon Marbury, and Cezary Trybanski. Thanks Isiah!

Why he was cut loose: Obviously the Suns had no real interest in his services on their terrible team so they released him a day later. The Suns have yet to have any Heisman winners on their roster.

What happened next: The Spurs picked him up for the remainder of the 2003-2004 season and he played bench minutes for them before landing in Houston the next season. He only played in 14 games with Houston before retiring due to injury.

Ben Handlogten (center)- February 19, 2004 - February 20, 2004

Who he was: A basketball nomad. Handlogten - who has an entertaining last name - was shockingly undrafted in 1996 after his half decent career at hoops powerhouse Western Michigan. He played a little in Turkey, a little in the CBA, some in the Japanese league and a little in Italy/Greece before Utah came calling. I can only imagine he was seen as a natural replacement to ease Jazz fans into the post Stockton/Malone era. Handsie (if that isn't what his friends call him, it should be) played 17 games for the Jazz in the 2003-2004 season.

How he was acquired: Utah traded Handsie and Keon Clark to the Suns for Tom Gugliotta, the previously referenced 2004 and 2010 first round draft picks (used on Kirk Snyder and Gordon Hayward respectively), and a 2005 2nd round draft pick. Not sure I really understood this trade but I'll explain that on our next entry.

Why he was cut loose: He really wasn't any good and he was injured. Clearly just a throw-in so the Suns could get Clark.

What happened next: The Jazz took him back in 2005 and he played 21 more NBA games. He played in Korea for a couple years and then his illustrious playing days were complete.

Keon Clark (forward)- February 19, 2004 - July 13, 2004

Who he was: A pretty solid NBA big man who could run the floor and block shots. Clark was drafted 13th in the 1998 draft and played a few solid seasons with the Nuggets before being dealt to Toronto and breaking out with an 11/7/1.5 season. He used that contract year performance to get a deal with the Kings. A year later he was salary dumped to the Jazz - he only played 2 games for Utah.

How he was acquired: Same as above. Utah traded Handsie and Keon Clark to the Suns for Tom Gugliotta, the previously referenced 2004 and 2010 first round draft picks (used on Kirk Snyder and Gordon Hayward respectively), and a 2005 2nd round draft pick.

Why he was cut loose: I don't really get the above trade. Handsie, Clark and Googs were all expiring deals and the Suns decided to dump 3 draft picks on them for the rights to Clark. The internet wasn't a ton of help to me but reason would dictate that the Suns thought they could keep Clark and turn him into something.

What happened next: He never played in the NBA again. He's since spent some time in prison and claimed that he never played an NBA game sober. The Suns gave up 2 first round picks for that guy.

Ben Wallace (forward/center)- June 26, 2009 - July 13, 2009

Who he was: A 4-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and dominant defensive force who helped the Detroit Pistons to the 2004 NBA championship. Not bad for a guy who was originally undrafted. He signed with Chicago in 2006 for 4 years and $52M and pretty immediately didn't seem worth the money. Chicago dealt him to Cleveland at the 2008 trade deadline in a 3-way deal that also brought the Cavs Delonte West, Joe Smith and Wally Szcerbiak. It was one of the many weird deals made by Danny Ferry to try to pair half decent players with LeBron James.

How he was acquired: The next weird deal by Danny Ferry to try to pair half decent players with LeBron James. Cleveland dealt Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, cash, and a 2nd round pick (used on Dwayne Jones!) to the Suns for Shaquille O'Neal.

Why he was cut loose: He was never acquired to play here. Hell I think most people thought he'd retire. He had a $14 million dollar salary coming in 2009-2010 and agreed to take a $10M buyout.

What happened next: He didn't retire. In fact he played 3 more OK seasons back in Detroit for the "give me a paycheck" reunion tour.

Sasha Pavlovic (guard/forward)- June 26, 2009 - September 15, 2009

Who he was: Pavlovic was a 1st round pick of the Jazz in 2003 who played 1 year in Utah before being picked up by Charlotte in the expansion draft. Charlotte flipped him to Cleveland for a 2007 first round pick (which was used on Jared Dudley). Pavlovic spent a few years in Cleveland as that guy who would always make you furrow your brow when LeBron passed the ball to him.

How he was acquired: That Ben Wallace trade from above. Or the Shaq salary dump - whatever you want to call it.

Why he was cut loose: I recall thinking they might actually keep Pavlovic for his shooting but instead he was bought out for $1.25M of his $1.5M salary.

What happened next: Minnesota, Dallas, New Orleans, Boston, Portland. He played a little for a lot of teams. Portland probably doesn't have him anymore but I really don't care to look into it - Jacob probably knows.

Jason Hart (guard)- December 29, 2009 - December 29, 2009

Who he was: A guard out of Syracuse who staggeringly played 341 games in the NBA without anyone having the slightest clue who he was. Mliwaukee drafted him in the 2nd round in 2000 and then he was employed by San Antonio, Charlotte, the Clippers, the Jazz, the Clippers again, the Nuggets, the Hornets and finally Minnesota. The fact that he started 56 games says a lot about the state of guard play in the league in the mid-2000s. I'm sure he was a swell guy.

How he was acquired: The Alando Tucker trade I completely forgot happened. Minnesota dealt their Hart and soul to the Suns for Alando Tucker, a 2010 2nd round pick, and some cash. Most would say trading Tucker is what spurred the 2009-2010 Phoenix Suns on to the Western Conference Finals.

Why he was cut loose: He fought Taylor Griffin to the death for a roster spot - and lost after the glare of T-Griff's bald spot blinded him. Or the Suns didn't need another point guard. Choose your own adventure.

What happened next: New Orleans snagged him and got 4 games out of him on a 10-day contract. He's actually an assistant coach on Andy Enfield's new USC staff.

Jerome Dyson (guard)- July 27, 2012 - August 15, 2012

Who he was: A guard out of UCONN who made the NBA somehow after playing in the D-League and played 9 games with the Hornets in 2011-2012.

How he was acquired: In this trade which all of us loved mainly because of Dyson. For those of you who still hate link clicking - it was the 3-way deal that sent Wes Johnson and that Minnesota conditional 1st rounder we're all having day dreams about to us (along with Dyson and Brad Miller) for Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick's bones, and some cash.

Why he was cut loose: He was Jerome Dyson.

What happened next: After the Suns cut him loose he wound up in Israel - playing basketball for a living seems like a good deal. In addition, I've booked him to play The Ghost of Roster Moves Past in the story of newly acquired Ish Smith's life.

Brad Miller (forward/center)- July 27, 2012 - August 15, 2012

Who he was: A pretty impressive success story. Miller was undrafted out of Purdue (and my god does that guy look like he went to Purdue) and carved out a solid niche with the Bulls and Pacers before being dealt to Sacramento. In Sacramento he somehow, improbably managed to be a 2-time All-Star center. He played with the Bulls again, and the Rockets, and Wolves before being dealt to the Suns.

How he was acquired: The Jerome Dyson trade.

Why he was cut loose: He wasn't looking to play anyway. He did collect $850K in a buyout for his trouble.

What happened next: He retired and I would imagine he's the kind of guy who lives on a ranch drinking beer and being really happy. If not - I don't want to know.

Caron Butler (forward)- July 10, 2013 - August 29, 2013

Who he was: A 2-time All-Star forward who has had some really good NBA years - most notably when he was a main cog for a pretty good Washington Wizards team in the mid to late 2000s. He also has an NBA championship ring from his time with the Mavericks but he was out for the playoffs with an injury. I'm not going to write any more about him because you know.

How he was acquired: 3-way trade where the Suns got Butler and Eric Bledsoe in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick and Jared Dudley.

Why he was cut loose: Go here.

What happened next: He just got traded. The wounds are too fresh. I assume he moves on to become the greatest player in NBA history - which is normal for a guy in his mid 30s.

That's all I've got in me. This is probably poorly edited - and way too long but that's how I roll.

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