October 1995: Raptors Cut Chris Whitney
Congratulations to Glen Grunwald! Now the NBA office can officially announce their newest surprise expansion team: The New York Knickerbockers. James Dolan, the owner of the NBA's newest franchise, has gone with a front office team who have proven experience in starting a team up from scratch as Grunwald, Isiah Thomas and Brendan Suhr were all a part of the Toronto Raptors rapid rise from scrappy over-achievers to laughing stock.
Maybe this re-united braintrust can pull off a management decision as wise as the one when they released Chris Whitney at the end of the Raptors first-ever training camp. Sure Whitney played well enough to make the team -- played so well in fact that Raptor Coach Brendan Malone intimated that Whitney might even take some playing time away from Damon Stoudamire. But over the coach's wishes this trio of geniuses cut Whitney, leaving the team with a back-up point guard named Vincenzo Esposito.
Coach Malone wanted to win games. In order to win games you don't play Vincenzo Esposito (I believe that's Rule #1 in the NBA Coach's Handbook). Thus Damon Stoudamire ended up averaging 41 minutes per game. Only 6 other rookies in NBA history have averaged more minutes per game. This earned Coach Malone a public rebuke from Isiah Thomas who complained that Stoudamire was playing too many minutes.
At some point this season I expect Isiah to complain about how the players on the Knicks do not mesh well together and then somehow not blame himself for it.
Chris Whitney got picked up by the Washington Bullets and ended up being a dependable back-up point guard for the next 6 seasons where he could be counted on to put up Chucky Atkins-like numbers. Stoudamire spent the last 10 games of the season on the IR with knee tenditis. He averaged 41 minutes per game in 1996/1997 as well since the Raptors still had no back-up point guard.
In February 1998, the Raptors finally traded for back-up point guard Alvin Williams. Unfortunately, Damon Stoudamire was sent to Portland as part of the deal.