How Jack Sikma Eventually Led The Sonics To Gary Payton

I’m doing some other research on the Sonics and I came across this amazing set of transactions.  I’m STILL trying to wrap my head around it!

As you may or may not know, Jack Sikma was drafted by Seattle in 1977 and went on to 7 All Star Games and helped win Seattle its only major professional championship.  What you may not know is that he didn’t end his career in Seattle.  He went on to five more seasons in Milwaukee with middling success.

On July 1, 1986, the Supersonics traded him to the Bucks.  Sikma was traded with a 1987 second round pick who turned into Bob McCann (who was cut before he ever played a game with the Bucks) and a 1989 second round pick who turned into Scott Haffner (who was traded before he was drafted by Miami; he would be out of the league after two seasons).

In return, the Supersonics received Alton Lister, a 1987 first round pick (18th overall) and a 1989 first round pick (20th overall).  Alton Lister was a three-year mostly-starter for the Sonics at center who averaged 8.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game in 239 games.

The 1987 first round pick turned out to be point guard Mark Jackson, but he never played for Seattle.  He, as a draft pick, was traded to the New York Knicks on November 12, 1986, with Gerald Henderson for another 1987 first round pick (5th overall) and a 1990 second round pick.  Now, that 1990 pick never played for Seattle either; it was traded to Milwaukee for Jerry Reynolds, who played in all of 56 games in one season with the Sonics before he was taken by the Orlando Magic in the expansion draft of 1989.

The other pick, the 1987 first round pick (5th overall) turned out to be Scottie Pippen.  On draft day, Scottie Pippen was traded with a 1989 first round pick (the same 1989 first round pick we received in the Jack Sikma trade, 20th overall) to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice (who was drafted 8th overall in that same draft), a 1988 second round pick, and a 1989 first round pick (18th overall).

The 1988 second round pick was traded to the Boston Celtics for Scott Wedman (who was cut) and Sam Vincent, who played in all of 43 games in one season with the Sonics before he was traded to the Bulls for Sedale Threatt.  The 1989 first round pick (18th overall) was then traded BACK to the Bulls just before draft day for Brad Sellers, who played in all of 45 games for the Sonics before he was traded to Minnesota for Steve Johnson who played in all of 21 games for the Sonics before his contract expired.  That 18th overall pick, meanwhile, was B.J. Armstrong who was a contributer for three Bulls championships.

Olden Polynice played three and a half seasons before being traded to the L.A. Clippers (with draft picks) for Benoit Benjamin.  Benjamin would play in 125 games over all or parts of three seasons before being traded with Doug Christie to the L.A. Lakers for Sam Perkins.

Meanwhile, getting back to Alton Lister – the primary trade chip in the original Jack Sikma trade – he would go on to be traded to the Golden State Warriors on August 7, 1989, for a 1990 first round pick (#2 overall).

That pick would turn into Gary Payton.

I know that was a very roundabout way of getting from Jack Sikma to the Glove, but I happened to run across all those draft picks exchanging hands and I thought it was fascinating.  Eventually, I’m going to throw down a post mapping out all the various moves it took to get to the 95/96 Sonics team, as well as some of the other great Seattle teams.  I thought I’d just get this post out of the way as a primer of sorts.

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