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Wait, what? Dennis Rodman was supposed to be traded to the Phoenix Suns?

Detroit backed out because the player they were set to receive was in drug rehab

NBA: Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

This is news to me so I’m sharing it with you. Did you know that the disastrous trade that sent Dennis Rodman to the San Antonio Spurs was almost a completely different disastrous trade that sent him to the Phoenix Suns?

To add even more ironic fuel to the fire, the reason Rodman wasn’t traded to the Suns is because the player Detroit was set to receive in return was in a drug treatment facility at the time?

It’s true.

This educational journey was spurred by a brief item on Basketball Insiders purportedly detailing the craziest almost trades in NBA history, which mentions the Rodman-to-Suns deal.

The New York Times wrote in 1993 that Detroit was set to get Suns forward Richard Dumas (coming off an all-rookie second team season) until executives learned Dumas was attending an aftercare program for substance abuse. This stay was two years after being suspended for a year in 1991 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. after-care program for substance abuse. This stay was two years after being suspended for a year in 1991 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

It’s ironic that a reason a Dennis Rodman trade didn’t go through because of the personal indiscretions of a player not named Dennis Rodman.

Sadly, the Pistons were adamant about dealing Rodman and settled for a deal nearly as bad as the aborted Phoenix offer.

As detailed by, Rodman was just beginning to act out in ways that would eventually make him infamous during his stints in San Antonio and Chicago.

  • Oct. 9, 1992: Misses opening of Detroit Pistons’ training camp, saying his pending divorce and the departure of coach Chuck Daly has sapped his desire to play basketball. Rodman misses all of camp.
  • Nov. 20, 1992: Suspended by Pistons for three games for refusing to go on a road trip.
  • Feb. 11, 1993: Police are notified after Rodman leaves a friend’s house with a gun. He is later found asleep in his truck at The Palace at Auburn Hills, where he was shooting baskets.
  • March 11, 1993: Suspended one game by the Pistons for skipping practice.
  • March 14, 1993: Fined $500 for leaving the bench during a fight in a game with the Chicago Bulls.

Ultimately, Detroit settled for one of the most hated trades in franchise history. Rodman, Isaiah Morris, a second-rounder (which became Antonio Lang) and a first-rounder (which became John Wallace) for Sean Elliot, David Wood and a first-rounder (which became Jerome Williams).

I was a relatively young basketball fan at the time, but Sean Elliot is one of the first times I remember a fan base hating one of their own players. Elliot didn’t want to be in Detroit, didn’t perform well and was gone by the next season.

If you’re wondering why you’d never heard of Dumas or are wondering whatever happened to him, sadly, he struggled throughout his life. He was waived in 1993 by the Suns after missing a drug test and was ultimately suspended for the entire 1993-94 season for substance abuse. He played parts of two more seasons before his NBA dream was over.

Dumas spent four more years plying his trade overseas and then finished out his professional and semi-professional career kicking around in independent basketball leagues until 2003.

In December 2013 he was arrested on eight felony charges related to stealing items from a store on a military base. Authorities say Dumas stole about $800 worth of merchandise while working with a janitorial service. Dumas was seen on surveillance cameras taking cigarettes, alcohol, food, DVDs and shoes, according to authorities.

He was sentenced to three years of probation.

Rodman, meanwhile has had a roller coaster of a career and life since leaving Detroit that I don’t really need to detail here other than to say I really wish he’d stop being chummy with North Korean dictators.

Elliot went back to the confines of San Antonio following his horrible year in Detroit. Subsequently, he has found gainful employment as one of the worst broadcasters in the NBA.

Lastly, I’ll note that while a Kobe Bryant almost trade is detailed in the Basketball Insiders piece, that’s not even the most interesting almost Kobe trade.

That would be the 2007 trade to the Pistons that was canceled at the last minute when Bryant was convinced to remain a Laker by Jerry Buss.