Quentin Richardson Comes Full Circle With Toronto Raptors

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When Quentin Richardson agreed to be signed-and-traded from the New York Knicks to the Toronto Raptors to facilitate the Andrea Bargnani trade, most thought little of his inclusion.

After all, Richardson is due a paltry $1.4M this season with two non-guaranteed years tacked on for CBA purposes. There’s also almost no chance he plays with the Raptors this year, since he must be waived before January 1 or else his two non-guaranteed years become guaranteed. Figure in that the Austin Daye signing has pushed the roster to 15 names and there’s little chance Richardson ever dons the Raptor red.

For Richardson, this was as simple as collecting a pay cheque. End of story. $1.4M to put pen to paper and potentially sit on a bench for two months while a team tries to trade you instead of waiving you. It’s the good life, and it’s nothing new to Q-Rich.

Q-Rich has basically turned into a form of NBA currency in the twilight years of his career. This is a well known story, especially so when he was dealt four times in the 2009 offseason, but for review purposes, his career transactions are below (per Basketball Reference):

June 28, 2000: Drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1st round (18th pick) of the 2000 NBA Draft.
July 29, 2004: Signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Suns.
June 28, 2005: Traded by the Phoenix Suns with Nate Robinson and future considerations to the New York Knicks for Kurt Thomas and Dijon Thompson.
June 25, 2009: Traded by the New York Knicks with cash to the Memphis Grizzlies for Darko Milicic.
July 17, 2009: Traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Clippers for Zach Randolph.
July 20, 2009: Traded by the Los Angeles Clippers to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Mark Madsen, Craig Smith and Sebastian Telfair.
August 13, 2009: Traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Miami Heat for Mark Blount.
July 13, 2010: Signed as a free agent with the Orlando Magic.
October 27, 2012: Waived by the Orlando Magic.
April 16, 2013: Signed a contract for the rest of the season with the New York Knicks
July 10, 2013: Traded by the New York Knicks with Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, a 2014 2nd round draft pick, a 2016 1st round draft pick and a 2017 2nd round draft pick to the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani.

For those of you trying to make heads or tails of it, that’s once drafted, three times signed as a free agent, once waived and SIX times traded. His 2009 is incredible, as he was basically just a place holder on team’s caps. The Human Traded Player Exception, or something like that.


However, Richardson’s history of being a piece of legal basketball tender actually extends back beyond his draft date in 2000. The 18th pick in the 2000 NBA Draft had actually been dealt multiple times itself, meaning Richardson was being used as currency before he even showed up to the league. Let’s trace the pick around:

June 28, 2000: Drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1st round (18th pick) of the 2000 NBA Draft.
August 8, 1999: Traded by the Atlanta Hawks (as a 2000 1st round draft pick) with a 2002 1st round draft pick (Chris Wilcox) to the Los Angeles Clippers for Lorenzen Wright.
June 30, 1999: Traded by the Philadelphia 76ers (as a 2000 1st round draft pick) to the Atlanta Hawks for Jumaine Jones.
March 11, 1999: Traded by the New York Knicks (as a 2000 1st round draft pick) to the Philadelphia 76ers for Mirsad Turkcan.

Alright, so that’s a lot of dealing. But wait, there’s one more:

October 10, 1997: As part of a 3-team trade, traded by the Toronto Raptors (as a 2000 1st round draft pick) to the New York Knicks; the New York Knicks traded a 1998 1st round draft pick (Bryce Drew) to the Portland Trail Blazers; the New York Knicks traded John Wallace to the Toronto Raptors; the Portland Trail Blazers traded Chris Dudley to the New York Knicks; and the Toronto Raptors traded a 2007 2nd round draft pick (Taurean Green) to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Put more simply, the pick used to draft Quentin Richardson actually belonged to the Toronto Raptors originally, as far back as 1997. They decided to deal said pick (at the time a long-in-the-future first rounder) and a heavily protected second round pick (realized 10 years later) for John Wallace.

When the deal was made, Wallace was 23 year old sophomore coming off a decent but uninspiring rookie season with the Knicks. He was taken 18th overall in the previous draft, so the Raptors gave up a future first and second for the eighteenth pick, one year removed. Wallace had a great debut season with the Raptors, averaging 14 points and 4.5 rebounds in 28.8 minutes at the small forward spot. The following year, though, injuries and the presence of Charles Oakley hampered his production and the Raptors let him walk at the end of the year. He bounced around the league for four years after that but retired at age 29 having played just 381 games over seven seasons.

On the other side, the Knicks used the future pick for something called Mirsad Turkcan, and then the Commissioner’s Office officially recognized a Quentin Richardson as a term in the collective bargaining agreement, one that several teams would leverage in the future.

Here’s the thing about being a piece of currency, though: it means you have value. Richardson may have been dumped a handful of times but he’s also been acquired a handful of times. At age 33 and devoid of much skill beyond the ability to occasionally hit a wide-open three, Richardson might be done. But he might not be. He’s Quentin Richardson, dammit. You don’t just take a $2-bill out of circulation (oh…a $1…you don’t take a $5-bill out of circulation!).

And hey, if this is the end of the line for him, it’s a perfect bookend to his career story as the NBA’s Carton of Cigarettes. Started as an imaginary future pick with the Raptors, finishes as an imaginary 15th man for the Raptors.

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