The 2022 NBA Finals just ended. One of the most talked-about topics was about the players who got their first appearance on the big stage. What will slip through the minds of the fans though are the people that were supposed to be there soaking up the NBA Finals experience in person but were watching the games on TV instead. Here are some of the those who were on the way to the NBA Finals until decisions derailed their journey.
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Bradley was a Golden State Warrior when the season began. He literally wore the team’s uniform during the preseason games. Upper management had to decide whether to keep him or not. The decision had to happen before the regular season started. There were stories about a few players urging the team to keep Bradley but the final say had to come from the team executives. The team made their choice and the next thing he knew, Bradley was a Los Angeles Laker the following week.
You have to console Bazemore. The first time he left the Warriors back in 2014, the team made it to the NBA Finals the following year and won. Bazemore just left the Warriors last year, and where are the Warriors now? That’s right. Celebrating another win. What hurts right now is that Bazemore had a chance to stay with the Warriors but ultimately chose the Lakers to play with LeBron James. We all know what happened to the Lakers during the season.
Would Schroder receive a ring if the Boston Celtics won? He played for the Celtics in 49 games during the regular season. He was a solid part of the team with his 14-plus points per game. A trade sent him and other players to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Daniel Theis. Now that his former team recently reached the NBA Finals, Schroder must be wondering what would happen if he was not traded away. This was a missed opportunity to play for a title.
Richardson played 44 games for the Celtics before a trade sent him to the San Antonio Spurs. Richardson was with Al Horford in Philadelphia, Oklahoma, and then in Boston. Everyone assumed they were always a package deal until Boston traded Richardson to get Derrick White. Richardson cannot blame the team for trading him away, especially since White would go on to become a valuable asset for the Celtics. Richardson, like Schroder, has to be asking if he will have a chance to play for a title in the future.
Exactly one year before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Ainge decided to step down from his role as a team executive for the Celtics. That role would be passed on to Brad Stevens who was Boston’s former coach. Looking back, maybe Ainge should have stayed for one more year. Remember, Ainge already won with the Celtics as a player back in the 1980s and as a team executive in 2008. Would he have made key decisions during the season and helped the Celtics win again? We will never know.
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Main Image Credit: via Hardwood Houdini