Trade rumors that surface after the fact don’t usually wind up being good ideas when they involve the Chicago Bulls and legend Michael Jordan.
It’s hard to imagine that there was any point where the Chicago Bulls and former general manager Jerry Krause would even slightly consider trading the legendary former North Carolina Tar Heels 6-foot-6 shooting guard Michael Jordan. But the book written by the former Chicago Tribune Bulls team writer Sam Smith did dive into how the Bulls were actually pretty close to trading the all-time great superstar MJ at one point in the late 1980’s. That book was titled The Jordan Rules and dove into quite a few controversial subjects, not just this particular MJ trade rumor.
According to The Jordan Rules (courtesy of Bleacher Report), the Bulls and former GM Krause were actually considering trading Jordan to the Los Angeles Clippers namely for a return of the first and sixth overall picks in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft.
The book goes into depth on how the Bulls could’ve used those picks to select the seven-footer and center Rik Smits, along with fellow center Mitch Richmond if he was available with the sixth overall pick. The actual first overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft was former Kansas Jayhawks center Danny Manning. And the actual sixth overall pick was former Bradley big man Hershey Hawkins, who landed with the Philadelphia 76ers in his actual rookie season.
Another move the Bulls were apparently considering that offseason was a trade involving either big man Horace Grant or Charles Oakley for a return of point guard Kevin Johnson. Oakley for Johnson would’ve have been the worst move, but a Grant trade would’ve cost them over the long haul.
So what would’ve happened if the Bulls snagged Smits first overall and Richmond sixth overall in the 1988 draft instead of keeping Jordan?
Well, Richmond is now a Hall-of-Famer as he was a six-time NBA All-Star selection, five-time All-NBA Team selection, 2001-02 NBA Champion, and the 1988-89 Rookie of the Year award winner. Between Smits and Richmond, they had seven combined All-Star selections.
Even if the Bulls wound up drafting the actual first and sixth overall picks (Manning and Hawkins), they would’ve wound up with three combined All-Star selections. Neither sounds too great for the Bulls side of this hypothetical trade deal.
There would not likely be six NBA Championships on the horizon for the Bulls if they dealt out Jordan for these two Clippers draft picks. And who know what would’ve turned out with the likes of Grant, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, etc. if Jordan doesn’t play in the Windy City throughout the 1990’s.
Meanwhile, the Clippers weren’t very good at all until the early-to-mid 1990’s, when they made their first appearance in the playoffs since moving to LA. The two draft picks they made weren’t necessarily bad, but they obviously didn’t turn into anything close to what Jordan did for the Bulls.
Jordan was a six-time champ, 14-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA Team selection, five-time MVP, and six-time NBA Finals MVP, during his accomplished run with the Bulls (and two seasons with the Washington Wizards). It was a really good thing that Krause didn’t actually pull the trigger on this trade idea with the Clippers in 1988.