Two seasons after trading Kelly Tripucka to Utah for Adrian Dantley, the Detroit Pistons won the Eastern Conference championship and fell three points short of the NBA title. Could they have done the same with Tripucka?
"I don't think it would be any different if I was still there - that's a personal opinion," Tripucka said Tuesday. "It would have been nice to be a part of that. But there's no reason why they shouldn't be where they are; they're a good team."Tripucka and Isiah Thomas came to the Pistons as rookies in 1981 - only Thomas is left from those days. After five seasons of averaging 21.6 points, Tripucka was sent with Kent Benson to the Jazz in August 1986. He spent much of two seasons in Utah on the bench.
By Thursday, the Jazz could join the Pistons on Tripucka's list of former teams. Tripucka is available in the expansion draft, and Charlotte is reportedly very interested in him - and the Jazz have to lose one player.
"Maybe I'm the logical choice," Tripucka allows.
The fact that former Detroit assistant coach Dick Harter is taking over Charlotte likely increases the Hornets' chances of taking Tripucka. K.T. likes the idea of playing for Harter again but is lukewarm about playing for an expansion team. Assured of playing somewhere else next season via expansion or a trade, he claimed to not even know the day of the expansion draft.
"There are some positives and some negatives," he said from his New Jersey home. "The losing would be tough - nobody likes to lose, whether you're a rookie or an All-Star like myself - and that's a fact of life with expansion. That's the hardest thing to deal with. But with the excitement of a new team, maybe that can overrule the losing aspects. I'd be an older guy (29) that people could look up to, and show some leadership."
And he'd definitely play a lot for an expansion team, right? "I would hope so," he mused, "but at this point, who knows?"