#3 – Sam Cassell
Sam Cassell joined the Suns a couple years after torching them during the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals. He was joined by Robert Horry, one of Suns’ fans most hated players ever, each part of a four-for-one trade with the Houston Rockets and Charles Barkley. Not halfway through his first season the Suns included Cassell in a trade to the Dallas Mavericks for Jason Kidd (we’ll come back to this trade). Sixteen games later, the Mavs traded him to the Nets.
Cassell’s only full season with the Nets was a breakout one, as he averaged a stat line of 19.6 PPG, 8.0 APG, 3.0 RPG, and 1.6 SPG. It’s amazing to me that he didn’t make the All-Star team that year. After an injury caused him to miss much of the 1998-99 season, the Nets traded Cassell to Milwaukee (and fired John Calipari). He would continue to put up excellent numbers throughout his career, particularly for the Bucks and then later for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In both stops, Cassell made deep playoff runs to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. Though he was only selected to one All-Star team, Sam Cassell undoubtedly deserved at least a couple more. He consistently put up great numbers while leading his teams to the playoffs. I’m not going to say whether the trade for Jason Kidd was worth it or not, but the Suns did pass up on at least one future All-Star to acquire a point guard that never led the Suns out of the Semifinals.