We take a look at Scottie Pippen’s departure from the Chicago Bulls and transition to the Houston Rockets in 1999.
The 1998 NBA offseason was crazy. Michael Jordan would retire for the second time after winning his final ring as a Bull, the upcoming season would be shortened to only 50 games, and Scottie Pippen would go from 11 years with the Bulls to starter for the Houston Rockets.
The players association simply wanted to raise the ceiling on salaries but the owners wanted to save money. The league canceled the 1999 NBA All-Star game and David Stern was seemingly in shambles post-Jordan departure. In the midst of all of this, Scottie Pippen was looking for a new home.
Michael Jordan and company had just won their sixth NBA championship capping off the end of one of the sport’s most influential dynasties of all time. Pippen was an All-Star in the shadows of the greatest player to ever play the game.
Scottie was looking for a new city, and a man named Charles Barkley was lobbying for him to come to Houston. The reasons Scottie decided to take up Barkley on that offer to join the Rockets in 1998 isn’t exactly clear, yet the pay-raise from $2.8 million in Chicago to $11 million in 1999 might have been a decent enough incentive.
Barkley, Drexler, and Olajuwon were only one game away from the NBA Finals the previous year, just another helpful incentive to fly to Texas. Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan were also no longer on the squad. In January of 1999, the Bulls traded Pippen to the Rockets for Roy Rogers and a second-round pick.
Next: Pippen's time in Houston...