Chicago Bulls: Shawn Kemp for Scottie Pippen, the Trade That Never Happened

Mike B.Correspondent INovember 26, 2011

14 Jun 1996: Scottie Pippen #33 of the Chicago Bulls knocks the ball away from Shawn Kemp of the Seattle Supersonics with help from teammate Luc Longley (left) during the second half of the Sonics 89-78 victory over the Bulls in game five of the NBA Final
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Back in 1987, the Seattle SuperSonics selected Scottie Pippen with the fifth overall pick in the NBA draft.

However, the forward from Central Arkansas wouldn't last long with the Sonics, as he was dealt to the Chicago Bulls for fellow top 10 pick Olden Polynice.  

Pippen would blossom into a perennial All-Star in Chicago and teamed with Michael Jordan to form perhaps the greatest duo in NBA history.  

The Bulls won three consecutive titles from 1991-1993, the first team to accomplish such a feat since Bill Russell's Boston Celtics in the 1960s.

A few months after Chicago's third title, Jordan shocked the world by retiring from the league and pursuing a career in baseball. Without Jordan around, Pippen emerged as the main go-to guy for the Bulls and impressively carried the team to 55 wins during the 1993-94 season.

On draft night '94, Pippen's name was involved in a trade rumor that had him being sent back to the Sonics in exchange for superstar power forward Shawn Kemp and two-time Sixth Man of the Year winner Ricky Pierce. The two teams would've swapped first-round draft picks as well.

The trade was never completed. Pippen remained in Chicago and teamed with Jordan—who later made a comeback—to lead the Bulls to another three titles. And Kemp, on the other hand, continued to be a great player for a few more years until battling with weight and drug problems.

Imagine, though, if the trade was actually completed. Would Jordan have still returned to the court even though his buddy Pippen was out west in Seattle? 

According to ESPN's J.A. Adante, Jordan likely wouldn't have.

"Probably not," Jordan said. "I could have played with Shawn, but I wouldn't have been as comfortable as I was with Scottie."

But let's say Jordan does return to Chicago. Would the combo of he and Kemp have still led the Bulls to three titles?

It's unlikely since the team would've lacked Pippen's lockdown defense and the hustle ability of Dennis Rodman, who wouldn't have been acquired with Kemp at power forward. 

But then again, one should never bet against a team that possesses the greatest basketball player ever in Jordan and perhaps the greatest coach ever in Phil Jackson.  

Meanwhile in Seattle, Pippen and Gary Payton could have formed one of the best defensive duos in league history. The two stars combined for an insane 19 All-Defensive Team selections during their Hall of Fame careers, and just maybe they could've prevented Jordan and Kemp's Bulls from winning a title or two. 

You never know.

If Kemp had won a few rings in Chicago, today he would likely be known not just as a spectacular dunker, but also as Jordan's memorable sidekick.

And if Jordan's relentless work ethic had rubbed off on Kemp, maybe Kemp's career wouldn't have ended so disastrously and he'd be in the Hall of Fame today like Pippen.

A Pippen-for-Kemp trade was never made. It will just always be a popular "what-if" topic for both Chicago and Seattle sports fans.