Quentin Richardson was born on the 13th (in April 1980), but nobody ever would say this 13-year veteran is unlucky.
Richardson was waived by the Orlando Magic last fall but stood to collect the final two years and $5.4 million on his contract. And money for nothing again came the shooting guard’s way Monday.
Richardson, 33, was the recipient of what one NBA executive calls the “magic envelope.’’
Money was needed to make a trade work between Toronto and New York that will become official July 10. So the over-the-hill free agent, who played one regular-season game in 2012-13 for the Knicks and shot 1 of 11, agreed to receive a guaranteed $1.4 million in a sign-and-trade so he could be included to get a deal done in which Andrea Bargnani will go to New York.
It’s no wonder Richardson tweeted “GOD is so AWESOME!!!’’
“I would have tweeted the same thing if they had Twitter back then,’’ former NBA center Joe Kleine said Monday. “He’s a very lucky man.’’
Kleine got a “magic envelope’’ himself in the summer of 2000 when he was ready to retire after scoring 11 points in seven games for Portland in 1999-2000 and becoming a free agent. But the Trail Blazers needed to throw in a player for a deal to work in which they sent Jermaine O’Neal to Indiana for Dale Davis.
So Kleine, then 38, was signed to a guaranteed $1.2 million in a sign-and-trade. He was waived four weeks later by the Pacers, heading into retirement with an unexpected bonus.
“When I got a call from my agent (Jeff Austin), I was dumbfounded,’’ Kleine said from Little Rock, Ark., where he is the co-owner of Corky’s Ribs & BBQ. “I never thought it would happen. I thought he was just joking.’’
It was no joke. Just as it isn’t that Richardson will have a guaranteed contract next season, something he no way would have gotten as a free agent on the open market.
NBA rules stipulate that for a trade to work, the money each team gives up must be within 25 percent and $100,000. The money matched up Sunday night when the Raptors and Knicks tried to complete a trade in which Bargnani went to New York for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and draft picks.
But NBA officials couldn’t be rounded up to approve the deal before the calendar turned to July 1 and 2013-14 salaries, rather than 2012-13 ones, began to be used for trade calculations. The deal no longer worked with the new numbers. So Richardson, whose contract will be paid by the Knicks, was added to get it done.
Since Richardson will be used in a sign-and-trade, his contract must be for three years with at least one year guaranteed. The $1.4 million Richardson got for the first year is the minimum in his classification, a player with more than 10 years of service. Richardson doesn’t fit into Toronto’s long-term plans and is a candidate to be waived before the season starts.
“It’s what’s great about the NBA and what’s wrong with the NBA that somebody would pay that much money just to make a trade work,’’ said Kleine, whose $1.2 million to not play was just $35,000 less than his highest annual salary during a 15-year career. “It’s great for (Richardson). It’s like winning the lottery.’’
Some other players know the feeling. Gary Grant was 35 and had scored 12 points in the previous two seasons when he got a free $1.4 million in a sign-and-trade for being tossed into a three-team deal in the summer of 2000 in which the Trail Blazers got Shawn Kemp from Cleveland. The Cavaliers then waived Grant.
Steven Hunter was utilized in a 2004 sign-and-trade in which the center went from the Magic to Cleveland. He got $1 million when thrown into a deal with Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao for Tony Battie and two-second round picks. Hunter has said his agent, Mark Bartelstein, called to say, “Congratulations, I just got you a free million dollars.’’
“I was like, ‘Damn, I got the best agent in the world,’ ’’ said Hunter, who soon was waived by Cleveland and then signed a one-year, $720,046 with Phoenix before remaining in the NBA until 2010. “I got a free million dollars. That’s love right there.’’
One of the more improbable players to get an unexpected payout was Aaron McKie, who was all but retired and working as a Philadelphia 76ers volunteer assistant in February 2008. McKie had not had his rights renounced by the Los Angeles Lakers, the team he had last played for in 2006-07, scoring 22 points all season.
The Lakers needed extra money on their side to work out a trade for Pau Gasol. So they agreed to get McKie a free $750,000 to go in the deal to Memphis, where he never would play.
“Is this a great country or what?’’ then 76ers executive Ed Stefanski said then about McKie’s windfall.
The most lucrative “magic envelope’’ arrived later in February 2008 in the hands of Keith Van Horn, who had last played for Dallas in 2005-06 but hadn’t had his rights renounced. When the Mavericks needed a player to be thrown into a sign-and-trade so they could get Jason Kidd in a blockbuster big deal with the Nets, Van Horn received a staggering $4.3 million to be included. He never played another NBA game.
When a free agent is utilized in a sign-and-trade just to make an overall deal work, the team signing the player often ends up including money to pay that salary or a large portion of it. The Trail Blazers took care of Kleine’s $1.2 million, but don’t think he wasn’t appreciative.
“I remember after the deal was done, Mark Warkentien (then a Portland executive) said, ‘You’re the luckiest guy in the world,’ ’’ Kleine said. “But I sent Portland a big care package of Corky’s ribs. I think I addressed it to Mark.’’
Stay tuned to see if Richardson is shipping any gifts this summer to the Knicks.