Poll: Which NBA team would Dominique Wilkins have played for in '97-'98 if he hadn't left overseas for Italy?
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San Antonio Spurs as a Sixth Man and backup SF behind Sean Elliott, maybe a decent fill-in starter if Elliott missed a valuable chunk of the season
1 100.00%
Utah Jazz as a starting SF by virtue of mere upgrade on Adam Keefe who shouldn't even be a starter
0 0%
Atlanta Hawks as a part-time starter/backup at SF behind Tyrone Corbin provided that Nique got along with Lenny Wilkens better than '93-'94 and accepted a complementary offense role next to Steve Smith
0 0%
Total 1 vote(s) 100%
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Dominique Wilkins' NBA team in '97-'98 if he hadn't left for Italy [UPDATE!]
Dominique Wilkins had a decent season in ‘96-’97 as San Antonio’s backup SF and mid-tier backup scorer when the Spurs were tanking to get Tim Duncan. Wilkins moved to Italy in ‘97-’98, but which NBA team would've signed him to be a backup mid-tier scorer at SF?

Nique's first stint in the NBA lasted from '82-'83 to '94-'95, most of it was spent as a megastar for the Atlanta Hawks as The Human Highlight Reel. For much of the 1980s and the early-to-mid portion of the 1990s, Nique was a big-time scoring superstar. The beginning of the end for Dominique Wilkins as a prime time superstar came in 1991-92 when he had a torn achilles tendon and had to have his SF slot filled in a timeshare between Alexander Volkov and Duane Ferrell, and thus, the Hawks had missed the playoffs in '91-'92. Nique never made it past the Conference Semi-Finals (2nd round) as he and the Atlanta Hawks (marred with subpar players with the exception of Kevin Willis and Moses Malone) had to deal with a stacked Eastern Conference picture that involved the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

There were concerns that while Atlanta was favored to take the #1 seed of the 1994 Eastern Conference in the bag for most of the '93-'94 season, coach Lenny Wilkens felt that Nique wasn't sacrificing his own shot attempts for the sake of buying into winning games and playoff games for an NBA Championship. Their inability to get along and his impending free agent status at the conclusion of '93-'94 played a big factor in Dominique Wilkins being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for fellow impending free agent Danny Manning. After the trade, some felt that Atlanta trading away Nique was what caused the Hawks to lose in the second round to the Indiana Pacers, while Dominique Wilkins missed the playoffs with the L.A. Clippers, and in the box scores, Nique added 29.1 points per game as a member of the team. He was reunited with his former Atlanta Hawks' head coach Bob Weiss (who was the head coach of the Clippers at the time) at least.

After the season, Nique became a free agent and signed with the Boston Celtics. He was still the starting SF, as his stats in '92-'93 and '93-'94 showed that he came back successfully from a torn achilles tendon. However, Nique averaged only 17.8 points per game as his shot attempts went down a bit and he (due to the achilles and the construction of the Celtics' roster) had to change his game from his traditional flashy slam dunker gameplay style into a more team-oriented performer. Nique's contract with the Celtics was for three seasons that would've taken him through '96-'97, but it had a buyout clause, so Nique was bought out of his contract by Boston because Rick Fox was ready to take the reins as the starting SF with rookie Eric Williams backing him up. With that, Wilkins left the NBA for the first time and went overseas to Greece signing a two-year, $7 million contract. While he won a World Championship for Greece, it was unfortunately not an NBA Championship. There were disagreements between Nique and Greek management over money, coaching tactics and unexcused absences, and that's what motivated Nique to come back to the NBA for '96-'97.

In 1996-97, Dominique Wilkins returned to the NBA, signing a one-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs for the veteran's minimum of $247,500 to be the backup SF behind Sean Elliott. Unfortunately, the Spurs were tanking to get the #1 lottery pick in '96-'97 with David Robinson being out for virtually the entire '96-'97 season (missed 76 games due to a broken foot), so the Center spot was filled by Cadillac Anderson and Will Perdue, while Elliot missed 43 games to knee tendinitis, leaving Wilkins and Monty Williams to timeshare at SF. Despite his role as a backup SF, Wilkins scored 18.2 points per game and 6.4 rebounds around 30-31 minutes per game, on 6.3 out of 15.1 shot attempts for a 41.7 FG%. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to be a backup, and the extra increase in PPG had to do with the Spurs being a lottery team with Robinson and Elliott plus Chuck Person (missed the entire season with a herniated disk) and Charles D. Smith (who was at the end of the road with bad knees but was at his best with the L.A. Clippers early on in his NBA career) spending time on the sidelines. There was even a trade rumor that would send Nique back to his original team (the Utah Jazz) in exchange for Shandon Anderson, the only viable trade package return since Wilkins was making the veteran's minimum while most of the Utah Jazz players weren't exactly veteran minimum guys.

So the trade never happened, and Wilkins missed the NBA Playoffs in 1997 while Utah went on to lose the 1997 NBA Finals to the Chicago Bulls. The Spurs (after drafting Tim Duncan) gave his #21 jersey (worn with Atlanta, L.A. Clippers and San Antonio) to Tim Duncan, as Gregg Popovich wanted young blood, so Wilkins left the NBA for a second time. This time, Wilkins moved to Italy in '97-'98, but which NBA team would've signed him to be a backup mid-tier scorer at SF? Given that Wilkins probably had no choice but to take a backup Super Sixth Man role.

If Nique returned to the Spurs once again playing Sixth Man backup SF to Sean Elliott for the Spurs in '97-'98, he probably would've had to revert back to his #12 jersey that he wore in Boston and maybe start a few games if Elliott spent a valuable chunk of '97-'98 on the sidelines. Or he could've joined his original team the Utah Jazz as a better option at SF than having to use Adam Keefe, Bryon Russell and Chris Morris at SF, let alone Keefe being the starter at SF, therefore Wilkins would've been a better upgrade on Keefe but may not replicate his 18.2 points per game with Karl Malone, John Stockton and maybe Jeff Hornacek around.

A third team I suggested would probably be his former team the Atlanta Hawks where he would either put his differences with Lenny Wilkens aside and take back his starting SF role or he would be made to take a backup role behind Tyrone Corbin, thus the depth chart would be Nique->Corbin->Chucky Brown. Unlike his first stint in Atlanta, Wilkins would not be a megastar this time around, as Atlanta now had Mookie Blaylock, Steve Smith, Tyrone Corbin, Christian Laettner, Alan Henderson and Dikembe Mutombo shouldering most of the scoring load, thus I could see Wilkins having a PPG average as low as 17.5 points per game (his rookie season of '82-'83). I only see Wilkins playing for contending teams only by '97-'98, as he deserved to be on a contender, and winning an NBA Championship with whoever of the contenders gave him a starters or a backup role and took him to an NBA Championship.

NOTE: Sorry about not sticking this to the top of the thread, likewise with the Dominique Wilkins in the NBA in '95-'96 instead of Greece. This one is about Dominique Wilkins in the NBA in '97-'98 instead of bolting to Italy.
What is your pick Michael?

P.S. You might want to change the text colour as it is too bright for reading since the background is bright too.
(11-27-2016, 10:43 AM)talkbasket Wrote: What is your pick Michael?

P.S. You might want to change the text colour as it is too bright for reading since the background is bright too.

I changed the text color from silver to purple just now. The only reason why I brought up San Antonio, Utah and Atlanta as the only NBA teams he would've possibly played for in '97-'98 if he hadn't returned overseas just to play in Italy this time.

Apparently, you voted for Dominique Wilkins to have a second season with the Spurs as an ideal Sixth Man behind injury-prone starter Sean Elliott, with maybe some starts accumulated in case Elliott got sidelined with the injury bug for significant chunks of an 82-game season.

Nique did have a season with the Spurs in '96-'97, but that was when management tanked to get Tim Duncan in the 1997 NBA Draft after David Robinson missed 76 games to a broken foot, leaving the Starting Center position to be filled by Will Perdue and/or Greg "Cadillac" Anderson. Chuck Person even missed a whole season to a herniated disk caused by a sidetracked airplane seat, and Vinny Del Negro & Sean Elliott also missed time, leaving Vernon Maxwell and Dominique Wilkins (despite their designated roles as Super Sub backups for the Spurs that year) to carry the team without their top guys.

While '96-'97 was a losing season for the Spurs, Dominique Wilkins was also in the trade rumor mill (as an expiring one-year contract who signed with San Antonio as a free agent) which those trade talks had him going from San Antonio to his original team that he never played for (Utah Jazz) in exchange for rookie Shandon Anderson. Utah basically had nobody else besides Shandon Anderson making the veteran's minimum salary to send back to San Antonio to obtain Nique. San Antonio gave Nique's #21 jersey away to Duncan.

However, Nique could've joined Utah as a free agent in 1997 without Utah being forced to let go of Shandon Anderson in a trade. Nique would've been a better option at SF than Adam Keefe for the whole '97-'98 season if he wanted to be a starter at SF and win an NBA Championship at the same time, or he could've returned to Atlanta where he would've been forced to settle his differences with Lenny Wilkens (Atlanta's coach) and also be forced to play more of a complementary role while Steve Smith is their clear-cut #1 go-to-guy. I see Nique being either a starter at SF or a backup behind Tyrone Corbin.

I suppose Nique would've limited his options to contending teams by 1997-98.

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