Peja Stojakovic RumorsAll NBA Players
The following is an excerpt from “1996: A Biography – Reliving the Legend-Packed, Dynasty-Stacked Most Iconic Sports Year Ever” by Jon Finkel. The book is available now on Amazon. To borrow a song title from Green Day (the perfect mid-90s band), picks seven through 12 of the 1996 NBA Draft were a boulevard of broken dreams for NBA executives. They contain a collection of men that run the gamut from “solid pro” to “absolute bust” and no matter how defensible the selection was at the time, within 24 months it was clear that, to be blunt, these six franchises missed. This isn’t 2021 revisionist history. This is 1997-1998 near-immediate regret.
It’s one thing as a general manager to look in the mirror and know that taking Allen Iverson or Marcus Camby or Shareef Abdur-Rahim or Stephon Marbury or Ray Allen or Antoine Walker with one of the first six picks of the ’96 draft was the right basketball call at the time. They all made the ’96-’97 All-Rookie Team (1st or 2nd) and there were two bona fide Hall of Famers (Iverson and Allen) several all-stars (Abdur-Rahim, Marbury and Walker) and Camby was a 4x All-Defensive Team player.
It’s quite another thing to know that from the seventh through 12th picks, you took one of these half-dozen guys: Lorenzen Wright – L.A. Clippers Kerry Kittles – New Jersey Nets Samaki Walker – Dallas Mavericks Erick Dampier – Indiana Pacers Todd Fuller – Golden State Warriors Vitaly Potapenko – Cleveland Cavaliers Over Kobe Bryant. Or Steve Nash. Or Jermaine O’Neal. Or even Peja Stojakovic. That’s a clean 35 All-Star selections from picks 13 to 17 versus none from picks seven to 12.
On Sunday, Stephen Curry won the NBA All-Star 3-point contest for the second time, joining Larry Bird, Craig Hodges, Mark Price, Jeff Hornacek, Peja Stojakovic and Jason Kapono as multiple-time winners. Curry scored 28 points in the final round to edge Utah’s Mike Conley, who registered 27 points.
The Kings haven’t reached the playoffs since 2006, the longest active streak in the NBA and one short of matching the Clippers franchise for most consecutive seasons missing the playoffs. Of course, this wasn’t just about the struggles on the court. Webber’s teammate, Vlade Divac resigned as general manager. Peja Stojakovic, another former teammate, resigned as assistant general manager. So it’s deeper than what most fans might feel about the situation. “They’re going to have to work hard,” Webber said. “It’s been frustrating to watch. I think everyone tried their best and I’m very happy that at least in the interim — Joe Dumars is a great leader and I think he’s consulting the team right now. So for me, as a Kings fan, it makes you feel a little bit better but you feel bad knowing that Vlade gave his all.”