Who, again, is Quentin Richardson playing for?
New York Knicks… sorry. Los Angeles Clippers… umm. Miami Heat guard/forward Quentin Richardson has suddenly become an NBA journeyman in the off-season. To recap his past two months, QRich moved from New York, to Memphis, to Los Angeles, to Minnesota and then all the way down south to Miami. Bam-Bam-Bam-Bam. Now that’s a hell of a lot of air miles you’ve burned up, Q.
This may not come as a surprise to anybody in big business today. It’s the NBA, ‘Where Trading Happens.’ But four times in two months is a bit excessive. No scratch that, real excessive. Being trade bait is one thing, but being dangled off four different lines is another. Think of how Quentin feels. Sure I know what your thinking, ‘Look at those millions Q, get over it,’ but once a player’s been traded so much, it can leave him in a state of limbo.
If your worth as a player makes you constant trade bait, there always will be a level of uncertainty. Good thing this trade didn’t come mid-season, as these sorts of moves can affect a player’s performance. Q needs to know his role, he needs to feel he has a place on a team where he can contribute. He doesn’t just want to be sitting on benches and in U-Haul trucks for the rest of his career. He wants to make his mark on a team; he wants playing time. He’s an NBA player and a decent one too.
OK so he’s no superstar despite living the superstar life. Headbands and high Pete Maravich socks on the court and R&B singing girlfriends off it. At the same time though he’s no minor, role-playing journeyman, or at least he shouldn’t be. Then again this is the NBA, where the older you get the more expendable you are. Younger players nip away at your playing time. One injury or ‘DNP-CD’ bout can take you from a sure thing to an afterthought.
Despite his large salary Q is still a valuable player. So why pass this guy around so much? He’s getting swapped more than his trading card. Put him on a half decent ballclub, and he can contribute off the bench or even in the starting lineup. This guy could average 15-20 points per. His skill, strength, strong body, range and finishing ability will make for some career nights. He’s a man with a hell of a lot of competitiveness to boot. The best asset Richardson can give you is his three-point range. Q’s got a very decent stroke, and when he’s at the top of his game, he’s deadly from downtown, one of the best in the League.
Quentin Richardson represents all that’s wrong with the way the League deals with players. Players who make up the skin and bones of a team need to be looked after as well. Sure, business is business and certain moves have to be made. But it seems like for every big blockbuster trade, there are two low-budget flops. Coaches and GMs need to stop dangling big contracts and promises in front of players and show the non-franchise players that they actually give a damn. Trade an individual enough times and he will begin to question his worth. The next thing to go is confidence.
So why is this guy getting passed over like a Jewish holiday? The 29-year-old Q is still in his prime (Quentin is 13 months younger than fellow ’00 Draftmate Hedo Turkoglu and has 4,045 fewer NBA minutes on his legs–Ed.), and his thunderous dunks get the fans out their seats. He’s more than just dunks and threes; he’s a player with substance. Quentin’s not known to be a cancer in the locker room, but quite to the opposite. So why has he been traded so much? Unfortunately, it comes down to salary. A player who can contribute at his level with a salary lower than $8 million would be more appealing for teams in the current economic climate. For example Trevor Ariza’s salary is significantly less than Q’s, and you know how big Ariza came up in crucial games. Also when $8 million comes with a history of chronic back issues, there’s some reason for concern.
Although Q might not exactly be this year’s bargain, he’s no bust either. Being traded four times in two months will certainly mess with his self-assurance, if not humiliate him. A player like Richardson who’s stepped in and stepped up his whole career will be able to contribute and find a niche with most teams. In a league where chemistry is more important than the names on a roster, Q has to be comfortable on his team. Pat Riley seems to be excited about having him in Miami. Let’s hope this excitement continues throughout the season and isn’t just a press conference soundbite.
This could just be one of those things in the crazy world that is the NBA offseason. He’s one of those players who teams need, but, at the same time, could produce value in a trade. It’s just strange that he was passed up by teams like the Wolves and the Grizzlies. His scoring and range would be welcome and his competitive fire would only help.
Being traded constantly gives a player a reputation he may not exactly deserve. Q has been a spark plug and has been even more of a significant contributor. It’s a shame his second go round with the Clippers lasted only three days — L.A. could have served him better. He and Baron Davis would have made a great backcourt.
Q had some good times in New York but he had to overcome injury and a crowded Knick backcourt. Richardson’s best year was probably in Phoenix. He set three-point records and contributed in big ways to possibly the best Phoenix team of the D’Antoni era. With a superstar girlfriend at courtside, Quentin Richardson had the whole package. One of the coolest ballers in the NBA with Brandy in his system.
But five years and five teams later Quentin finds himself in Miami. Richardson could find a decent home in Florida with an exciting young team back on form like their star player Dwyane Wade. Q could gel with other key role players in Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley like Chris Andersen’s pregame hair treatment. This swingman would be perfect for a young fast-paced team that needs experienced players who can get it done on both ends.
Quentin Richardson is exactly that guy who will go hard and give his team all his energy. A work hard, play hard guy, now on a strong, young team in a bright, vibrant city. Let’s just hope his new Heat team gives him the appreciation he deserves. Besides, Richardson doesn’t need to become a journeyman this early in his career, especially in the space of eight weeks. Q has a lot more to offer.