On November 1st, 1993, the Indiana Pacers traded forward Detlef Schrempf to the Seattle Supersonics for forward Derrick McKey and guard/forward Gerald Paddio.
It’s never easy making a controversial decision in the NBA but there are proven trades that benefit the team giving up the most talent in a trade. Back before the start of the 1993-94 season, the Indiana Pacers and Seattle Supersonics made a three-player deal that would greatly impact the future of both franchises.
In five years with Indiana Schrempf averaged 17 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and 4.1 apg on 51% fg and won the sixth man of the year award twice. His last year with Indiana was a major success. He was an All-Star while averaging 19.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg, and 6 apg.
Towards the beginning of his last season in Indiana, Schrempf had asked to be traded.
Derrick McKey was originally drafted by the Seattle Supersonics with the ninth pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. The University of Alabama product came off the bench in his first season for a Seattle team that featured 20-point scorers in Tom Chambers, Dale Ellis, and Xavier McDaniel.
McKey put together a solid rookie season. He averaged 8.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.3 APG off the bench in 82 games and 20.8 MPG. He showed some promise with performances like a 20 point, 4 steal outing against the Phoenix Suns on April 2, 1988 and 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists against the Washington Bullets on November 21, 1987. The Sonics finished 44-38 that season and qualified for the playoffs. They would face the Denver Nuggets in a high-scoring five-game series that Denver ended up prevailing in the final game of the series. There were hints of a bright future for McKey who averaged 12.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.6 APG off the bench in the series.
McKey left Seattle with averages of 13.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 446 games. He also shot 50% from the field and 80% from the free-throw line during his tenure in Seattle.
Gerald Paddio was essentially a throw-in for this deal. Paddio originally signed with the Supersonics prior to the 1992-93 season. He didn’t see much action averaging just 3.9 ppg and 1.2 rpg in just 41 games of action before the trade.
After the trade, both players went on to successful stops with their teams. Schrempf was happy to return home to Washington where he established himself as a basketball player in high school and college.
McKey was the perfect fit for Larry Brown’s defensive style. The long and athletic small forward got off to a slow start in his first season with the Pacers due to a hamstring injury. The Pacers didn’t fair much better starting off 16-23 through the first 39 games of the season. The pacers righted the ship going 31-12 the rest of the regular season including a decisive eight-game winning streak to finish the season. McKey put together a solid all-around campaign averaging 12.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.3 APG in 76 games.
The Pacers put together their greatest playoff stretch in franchise history at the time when they swept the Orlando Magic in three game, and then pulled off a large upset against the number one seeded Atlanta Hawks in six games. In their first Conference Finals appearance, the Pacers met the Knicks in the 1994 playoffs. After the Knicks took the first two games of the series at home, Indiana responded by taking the next three games including a special performance by Reggie Miller in Game Five of the series. Despite holding a 3-2 series edge, the Pacers would go on to lose the next two games and the series in seven games.
The initial playoff success inspired positive commentary about the trade and reversed the negative banter originally associated with it. The fact that Indiana was breaking franchise records and experiencing unprecedented success inspired the change in public reaction to the trade.
The 1994-95 season was another step in the right direction for Indiana. The team finished with an NBA Franchise high of 52-30. McKey put together a strong individual season averaging 13.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 1.5 SPG in 81 appearances. He also received his first NBA All-Defensive Second Team nomination. The Pacers entered into a relatively easy first round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks. They swept Atlanta in three games and entered into a competitive series with the 55-win New York Knicks.
Game One was highly contested with both teams trading leads. The Knicks wound up with a 103-97 lead but blew the game thanks to a legendary eight points in nine seconds finish from Reggie Miller. After losing Game Two in New York, the Pacers took care of business at home in Games Three and Four to take a 3-1 series lead. McKey came up with a big block in Game Three on Charles Oakley to end the game.
The Knicks managed to even the series by winning Game Five on a Patrick Ewing Game-Winner and a double digit Game Six victory. The Pacers managed to eke out a Game Seven victory to win the series 4-3. McKey played an integral role in the elimination game with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists.
In their second straight Conference Finals appearance, the Pacers found themselves matched up with the young Orlando Magic led by Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal. The seven-game series featured the home team winning every time. The series featured some wild moments including a game-winning buzzer beater from Rik Smits to win Game Four of the series and tie the series 2-2. The Pacers would go on to lose by 24 in Game Seven and lose the series 4-3.
McKey would continue to play well for Indiana during the 1995-96 season. He received a five-year, $24 million extension early on in the season. He earned another NBA All-Defensive Second Team honor and the Pacers went 52-30 once again. Some bad luck would blindside the Pacers late in the season though. Miller broke his right eye socket in a collision with Allan Houston and Otis Thorpe in the third to last game of the season. The Pacers went into their first round series with the Atlanta Hawks. Miller missed the first four games of the series but returned in dramatic fashion for the final game of the series. Miller’s return was spoiled as Atlanta defeated Indiana in the final game on Indiana’s home floor 89-87.
The 1996-97 season would be the beginning of a sharp decline for McKey. He missed a total of 32 games due to a stress fracture in his left foot and a ruptured achilles tendon. McKey posted career lows in scoring (8.0 PPG) and field goal percentage (39.1%) that season. The Pacers didn’t fare well at all during the ‘96-‘97 season. The team went 39-43 highlighted by injuries and the trading and re-acquiring of Mark Jackson with Denver during the 1996 offseason and the 1997 NBA Trade deadline respectively.
With McKey out for part of the 1997-98 season due to his ruptured achilles, the Pacers made a trade for forward Chris Mullin from Golden State. When McKey returned, he was moved to the bench and played in 57 games that season. Indiana returned to dominance under new coach Larry Bird, winning 58 games with the second best record in the Eastern Conference behind the Chicago Bulls.
In the playoffs, the Pacers got off to the right star disposing the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games in the first round. The Pacers met up with their rival New York Knicks in the Semifinals and managed to win the series 4-1 behind a strong performance from Reggie Miller (24.6 PPG in five games). The Pacers met up with the Chicago Bulls in a very close seven-game series. Only one of the seven games was decided by double digits. McKey received a considerable amount of playing time in the series (21.4 MPG). Despite not providing much offense, McKey had a special moment when he inbounded the ball late in Game Four of the series, delivering a pass to Reggie Miller who knocked down a game-winning three-pointer to tie up the series. The Pacers would go on to lose the series in seven games as Jordan’s Bulls would make one last title run.
Injuries continued to be a problem for McKey in what would be the final few years of his career. McKey only played in 13 games during the lockout-shortened season due to knee problems. The Pacers won 33 games that year and advanced to the Conference Finals after sweeping both the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. The Pacers had probably one of their most disappointing playoff series performances in the Conference Finals with the eighth-seeded Knicks. The Pacers lost in six games.
McKey missed a large chunk of the 1999-2000 season due to a bruised leg. He played significant minutes (19.8 MPG) for a very deep Pacers bench but only played in 32 contests. Indiana had the best season in franchise history, winning 56 games and advancing to the NBA Finals after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and New York Knicks in three hard fought series. The Pacers would run into the Lakers who managed to defeat Indiana in six games to win the first of three consecutive championships.
The Pacers would go through a youth movement in what would be McKey’s last season with the team. The Pacers traded veteran rebounder extraordinaire Dale Davis to Portland for the very young Jermaine O’Neal. Rik Smits retired, and Mark Jackson and Chris Mullin signed elsewhere in free agency.
With the youth movement underway, McKey would see some action during the 2000-01 season. He played in 66 games (20 starts) and averaged only 2.2 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 15.0 MPG that season. The Pacers under Isiah Thomas took a step back finishing just 41-41. The Pacers barely advanced to the playoffs, narrowly edging out the Boston Celtics. Despite an amazing Reggie Miller game-winner in Game One, the Pacers would go on to lose 3-1 to the number one seeded Philadelphia 76ers and Allen Iverson.
McKey would be waived before the start of the 2001-02 season and would later sign with the Philadelphia 76ers halfway through the season.
Paddio lasted less than a month before being waived late in November by Indiana. He only saw 55 minutes of action in seven games before his departure from Indiana. Paddio would eventually play for the Knicks and Bullets in the same season and that would be his last season in the NBA.
Schrempf made 1.5 million and McKey made 1.2 Million. Both teams over cap
Derrick McKey on head coach George Karl (via The Seattle Times):
"Coach had his own personality and the type people he wants on the team. That was probably the main thing - our personalities did not agree. But that’s fine. He’s got his job to do."
On the criticism he faced in Seattle:
"I did a lot of things that didn’t show up in the box score. People are going to say what they want to say anyway, but the players on this team and around the league know what I can do. Your peers are what counts."
On his reaction when notified of trade:
"I said, ‘OK, fine’."
On the lack of shock on his part after hearing about the trade (via The Spokesman-Review):
"I’ve heard about it for so long, I can’t say I’m surprised. But it really hasn’t sunk in. My main problem now is packing for the move."
Before return to Seattle (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"It’s a business situation. They thought they needed more offense at that position (small forward), so they got Detlef. The Pacers wanted defense, so they got me. That’s pretty much the way it is in the NBA."
On the importance of the game:
"The game? Hmmm, it’s no big deal. Just another game we’ve got to win."
On the Pacers team after the trade:
"It reminds me some of what it was like earlier in my career with the Sonics. We were changing all the time and weren’t winning consistently. There wasn’t much respect out there for us. But coach is real fundamental and into teaching. I like it, and if he gets on me, I don’t care. I’m not one of those guys who’s ever been bothered by a coach getting on me. I just do my job. It’s not like I don’t have the respect of my teammates. I’ve always had the respect of my teammates."
Detlef Schrempf on how he had dreamed of playing for Seattle years ago (via The Seattle Times):
"I dreamed about it."
On his frustrations with the Pacers and how their acknowledgement of a rebuild created a rift with Schrempf who wanted to contend:
"That really annoyed me. They’d just told me they were going to rebuild and get better, and that I’d be the cornerstone. Two weeks later, I was being shopped all over the place. I told them that I treat people the way they treat me, and that when my contract was up, I’d take all this into consideration. The way the league is going, there is no free agency. Everybody’s over the salary cap. Who was going to sign me? Realistically, the Pacers were going to give me the best offer."
On the trade and his excitement but also upset feelings about the deal (via Wilmington Morning Star):
"I’m excited to be going back to Seattle and I’m excited about the team, but, at the same time, I’m also a little mad. A little upset. They (the Pacers) could have done this a month ago and shown me a little respect. Or they could have not let me go through two practices when they knew this was going to happen. It just shows you it’s a business and that there’s no loyalty."
On competing for a championship with Seattle (via Herald-Journal):
"I think we’re good enough to win it. I think we’ve got to get lucky. I think we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to do a lot of things right. But no one is going to give us any excuses now."
On his excitement for going to Seattle (via The Spokesman-Review):
"I’m excited to be going to Seattle; my phone has been ringing off the hook. I’m going to a situation where I have a chance to accomplish what I’ve wanted to accomplish the last 4 years. We have a chance to go all the way."
On the trade:
"Every player wants to get a chance at winning a championship. I’ve been in the league for a long time now, and I didn’t see us making the next step in the next two or three years (at Indiana). This is my chance, and I’m going to make the best of it."
On how the Sonics style of play is conducive to him succeeding (via The Seattle Times):
"This is the type of basketball I like. Put five guys on the court who like to play basketball together and don’t worry about size or mismatches. Just go for the ball, play together and read each other. I know I can score and rebound, and I like to pass the ball. People in this trade have questioned my defensive ability. I know I have certain limitations in that way, but I think I’m smart enough to overcome them."
Sonics president Bob Whitsitt (via LA Times):
We’ve just added an All-Star to our team. Any time you can do that, I think you can’t help but become a better team.”
On how long the trade took (via The Spokesman-Review):
"Oh, it took about three days to get done."
On not being concerned of Schrempf’s free agency situation after the season (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"We know he likes it here and we think he’s going to like the team. We signed Gill, we signed (Ricky) Pierce and Benoit Benjamin when we had to. We don’t think it will be a problem."
On team expectations (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"What we’re trying to do is win a championship. Is Detlef that good? Well, I don’t think one guy is going to win a championship for us."
On Schrempf’s age:
"Detlef is the same age as Michael Jordan. I looked that up. Detlef also only missed two games in the last three years. Derrick missed 44. I think Detlef has a lot of good years left him."
Before McKey’s Return to Seattle (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"Some of the players, you’re glad you traded them and you don’t say a word about them when they come back. Derrick’s a guy I always liked. He’s an excellent basketball player who played well for us for six years, and I hated to trade him. Trading him was not a case of anything he did wrong or didn’t fit in. It was a case of getting better at an area we needed to get better at. There are very few players in the NBA we would even have considered trading him for. Detlef was obviously one of them."
Indiana Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh on the feeling out process it took for him to trade Schrempf (via LA Times):
"To keep Detlef here, I had to feel real deep in my heart that we were going to have him here next year, or else we stood a very difficult chance of losing him for nothing."
On how long the trade took (via The Spokesman-Review):
"More like three years."
On the expectations for the trade (via The Free Lance Star):
"I fully expect that the trade will be unpopular. I’m just hopeful the fans will give Derrick McKey a chance."
On Schrempf’s impact for Indiana (via The Prescott Courier):
"Detlef was a great player for us. He came here from Dallas as an unheralded player. He became the sixth man of the year twice, was an all-star last year."
On not wanting to get into a bidding war for Schrempf (via Bowling Green Daily News):
"With the recent signings in the NBA, and the one-year out rule, that just enhanced the fact that this was going to develop into a bidding war. It was either going to put us in a difficult position as a franchise, or we were just going to lose Detlef because he chose to go somewhere else."
On the opportunity to acquire McKey (via Anderson Herald Bulletin):
"I felt it was opportune for us when we had a chance to get a player of Derrick McKey’s caliber, and also Paddio who has the ability to shoot the ball, that we go ahead and do the deal."
On the two factors that played a role in trading Schrempf (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"I hated to do the deal. There were two deciding factors, one basketball and one business. Since camp began (coach) Larry (Brown) knew Detlef wouldn’t be able to get the kind of minutes he was used to at three because of the kind of defense he wanted to play. McKey fits that just right. The other was business. We knew that everybody would be competing for Detlef this coming Summer and we wouldn’t have a chance and then we would get nothing. So I told him in August we would try to trade him to Seattle because he wanted to finish his career there and we liked McKey. I’m sure it will be well received there. It won’t be here."
On how much the trade bothered him (via The Spokesman-Review):
"This (trade) killed me. It’s a business, we’ve got a new coach (Larry Brown) and a new system, but I still didn’t want to do it. I knew we’d lose him (Schrempf) next year (to free agency), but all I thought about were all those games when I thought he was playing awful and I’d look at the stat sheet midway through the second quarter and he’d already have 10 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. He will always ALWAYS put up good numbers."
Supersonics Coach George Karl on what Schrempf provides (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"We were looking for a consistent style in the half court, and Detlef is more of an offensive player. It’s not that Detlef is a bad defensive player or Derrick is a bad offensive player. Detlef just upgrades our offense with a style that defines playoff basketball."
On the process for Schrempf to feel comfortable in Seattle:
"I don’t know how long it will take for it all to fit, but this is a long season and it won’t all be decided this week. He can play one (point guard), three (small forward) or five (center), he’s a prototype Sonic."
On how it’s his turn to pay back the Sonics for acquiring Schrempf:
"I would say Mr. (Bob) Whitsitt and Mr. (owner Barry) Ackerley have delivered the goods for me here. Now it’s my turn."
On the pressure the team will face after the trade (via Moscow-Pullman Daily News):
"This puts us in a situation where we’ve got to produce. We’ve opened up a two to three-year window to contend for the championship. If we don’t win a championship in two to three years, we should be scrutinized very closely."
On Schrempf’s versatility:
"He’s a very versatile athlete who does it all. We think this move improves our shooting and gives us another player who can help us get to where we want to be."
On how Schrempf fits in with the team (via The Seattle Times):
"He fits into the way I believe the game is going to. Can he play guard? Yeah, he can play guard. Can he shoot? Yeah, he can shoot. Can he rebound? Yeah. Can he pass? Yeah, he can pass. He isn’t defined by a position, he’s just a player. He’s fundamental. He knows the game. He sees the game. He feels the game. He had the ability to make people better. There are very few big people you can say that about."
On how he’s a big fan of Schrempf (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"I’ve been a big fan of Detlef’s ever since he came into the league in Dallas. He’s one of the few players in the game who makes other players better. He’s a guy who can get 10 assists as often as he can get 30 points."
On the heightened expectations for Seattle and competing for a championship:
"If we don’t, I’ll be very, very disappointed. I’ll want to know the reason why. Why would we run away from our expectations? I think we’re good enough to win it."
Before McKey’s return to Seattle (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"Derrick gave us something that nobody else has. He’s a 6-10 guy who can guard all five positions on the floor. Don’t think it didn’t cause me to lose some sleep because we didn’t have that anymore. But now we have a guy who is consistent in the halfcourt offense."
Indiana Coach Larry Brown after trade (via Sun Journal):
"We all agreed that this would probably be the best thing for our team in the long run. I’ve gotten to see Derrick play a lot over the years… I don’t think the transition is going to be that severe. I would like to think that with a young kid like him… good athletes, we could put people in their normal position and go there."
On team needs (via The Free-Lance Star):
"We have more than one specific need. Detlef’s a great player, but I’m hopeful that Derrick can come in here and play the small forward."
On Derrick McKey:
"I never heard anybody say that he plays inconsistently defensively."
On McKey’s early-season injury problems in 1993 (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"It’s been tough since he was really hurt when we got him. It was tough for Derrick because he’s expected to fill a big void for us and he’s not able to perform. He wasn’t healthy, and he hadn’t practiced. But since he’s come back, it’s been a different story."
On McKey’s talent:
"You see, Derrick McKey is a coach’s player. He can play for anyone because he’s such a great all-around talent, and he can do anything. Detlef is the same kind of all-around talent, but Derrick’s begins on the defensive end. He won with defense in Seattle, and some of what his strength is has rubbed off on the other players. People talk about how quiet he is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me."
On McKey’s defensive impact:
"I’ve said this a number of times, but Bobby’s (Jones) the greatest defender I’ve ever been around. Derrick’s on the same level. But he has more offensive skills, and it’s up to me to start running the offense through him."
On losing Detlef Schrempf:
"Sure it’s tough losing Detlef. All the players said he was gone (via free agency) after this year. So instead of losing him for nothing, we got Derrick McKey. Now that he’s getting healthy, we’re winning. And that’s no coincidence."
Sonics guard Nate McMillan on Derrick McKey (via The Seattle Times):
"When all the guys on the team are looking to do a certain thing, like score, you need somebody in there to be unselfish, to keep the team balanced and happy. That’s what Derrick was doing. Like myself, he sacrificed his game, his ego and his pride to help keep his teammates happy. When the five starters are out there, there are different personalities, and I mean different personalities. You go up and down the court two or three times, and if some of your teammates don’t get the ball, they get upset, they quit playing, and you don’t want to deal with that. Me and Derrick both knew that."
On McKey’s unselfish nature (via The Seattle Times):
"I think he didn’t do certain things because of the structure of the team. He is very unselfish, too unselfish. People wanted him to look to his offense more, and when he didn’t he was inconsistent. But he always said he wanted to allow other guys the (scoring) opportunities."
On Detlef Schrempf:
"Detlef can play defense. He plays hard, and he’s a smart player."
Sonics forward-center Sam Perkins on Derrick McKey (via The Seattle Times):
"He (McKey) was really well-liked on this team. I liked him, too. He was fun to be around. I also liked him as a player, because of his court savvy and court awareness."
Sonics guard Kendall Gill on Schrempf (via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"Detlef Schrempf is a great player. He’s a 6-10 guy who can do everything. He’s a gutsy player and I love that. He’s got a big heart. He’s not afraid to take the last shot at the last second."
Sonics center Michael Cage on the trade via Ellensburg Daily Record):
"I think the Pacers are getting a pretty good deal as well."
Pacers center LaSalle Thompson on the deal (via Wilmington Morning Star):
"He’s an All-Star player and all the guys on the team liked him. A guy like that, you don’t want to see him go. Right now, we’re not thinking about whether it’s good or bad. We’re sad to see a friend go. We all really appreciated him."
Schrempf’s agent Jeff Neal on the trade (via The Seattle Times):
"We pushed for this trade, and they pushed for this trade. There were risks, but neither of us would have pushed for it if Detlef didn’t want to be in Seattle, and the Sonics didn’t want him there."
Portland Trail Blazers guard Clyde Drexler on the trade (via The Seattle Times):
"McKey’s a very good player. I think they’re going to miss him. Schrempf is good, but McKey did a lot of things well. They’re going to miss his defense."
Former Pacers head coach Bob Hill on the trade (via Orlando Sentinel):
"Obviously the mindset of the management is that they didn’t feel they could commit to pay him next year when he becomes a free agent. There was a lot of discussion the last two years concerning Derrick McKey. But I was never in favor of trading Derrick for Detlef."