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Then, to really accent the situation, Rodgers had to take over everything in the backcourt when two injuries almost crippled us. Suddenly, for a guy who had never been a good shot, he not only started shooting but he went on a spree of better than 35 points a game, way over what he had ever done before. He always was an exciting ballplayer. San Francisco now idolized him.
We returned from a road trip, and I walked in to see Bob Feerick, the general manager. "Bob," I began, "you know how we've often talked about when was the best time to trade a ballplayer?" He nodded. "Well," I said, "I think we ought to trade Rodgers now." I remember Bob's mouth flew open and he dropped his pencil.
Mieuli called me in two days later. He began by assuring me that he was only the owner, knew nothing of basketball and made it a policy never to interfere with a coach's decisions concerning basketball. But what the hell, trade Guy Rodgers? No way.
I persisted, though, and we talked for about two hours as I kept explaining that it was simply the best chance we would probably ever have to trade a ballplayer at his highest market value for someone who had qualities we especially needed.
"All right, just out of curiosity, who do you think we could get?" Franklin asked me.
"Look," I said. "I don't know the full price we could get for Guy if we got lucky, but I'll tell you a player I know we can get and I'd be satisfied with him even though the Lakers aren't even playing him now. I'd settle for Jimmy King today, straight up. He'd work in well with this team and he can shoot."
Mieuli nodded but he still made it plain he wouldn't trade Guy, so there wasn't anything more said for the rest of the season. We finished a game out of the playoffs after Nate got hurt. Then Mieuli fired me. And then Chicago came into the league and took Jimmy King in the expansion draft.
Mieuli started getting very chummy right away with Dick Klein, the Chicago general manager, and bingo—Johnny Kerr and Al Bianchi, the Chicago coaches, were standing out on the practice court one day in September when Klein walked out and said, "I got you Guy Rodgers."
"For who?" asked Kerr.
"Jimmy King and Jeff Mullins."