After years of waiting for an opportunity, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns are finally back in the NBA Finals.
For the Suns, it’s their first appearance in the Finals since Charles Barkley and teammates lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. The Bucks haven’t made it to the Finals since losing to the Boston Celtics (yes, you read that correctly) in 1974.
Plenty of players have played for the Bucks and Suns, but who is the greatest to do so? Hint: they’re not playing in the 2021 NBA Finals.
Sam Cassell played for the Suns and Bucks in a long career
As of July 2021, no players in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame suited up for the Bucks and Suns. However, there have still been some extremely successful and talented players who accomplished the feat.
Using Basketball-Reference’s Win Shares list, Sam Cassell had the highest number of any player who saw action for both teams. The former All-Star point guard totaled 87.46 win shares, which ranked 126th at the end of the 2020-21 season.
Cassell, an All-Star point guard who won three NBA titles in 15 seasons, averaged 14.8 points and 4.5 assists in 22 games and nine starts for the Suns during the 1996-97 season. The Suns sent him to the Mavericks in December 1996 in a move that brought Jason Kidd to Phoenix.
Cassell joined the Bucks midway through the 1998-99 season and averaged 19.4 points and 7.4 assists in 313 games with the franchise. He added 16.5 points and 6.3 assists in 32 postseason games while on the Bucks.
Michael Redd and Eric Bledsoe played for both teams in the 2010s
Cassell obviously isn’t the only player who wore Bucks and Suns uniforms in his career, and he’s also not the only one with All-Star ties to do so.
Older basketball fans will remember Redd, an electric shooting guard who averaged 20 points on 44.9% shooting in 11 seasons with the Bucks. An All-Star selection during the 2003-04 season, Redd averaged 17.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 16 postseason games.
However, injuries caught up to Redd and sapped him of his effectiveness as a shooter. He ended his career averaging 8.2 points on 40% shooting in 51 games and two starts for the Suns during the 2011-12 campaign.
Veteran guard Eric Bledsoe averaged 18.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 224 games across five seasons with the Suns from 2013 through 2017. After he publicly demanded a trade on Twitter, the Suns sent him to the Bucks in October 2017, and he immediately took over the starting point guard position.
In three seasons with the Bucks, Bledsoe averaged 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. He spent this past year averaging 12.2 points in 71 games for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Torrey Craig played for the Bucks and Suns this season
At this stage in his career, no one will confuse Craig, a fourth-year small forward, with Cassell or Redd. However, the 30-year-old forward is a member of the Bucks-Suns club, and he’s guaranteed to earn an NBA Finals ring this summer.
The Bucks traded Craig to the Suns for cash and a trade exception in March. Several months later, the backup forward will face his former teammates for a chance at the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Only time will tell if Chris Paul suits up for the Bucks at any point or if Khris Middleton eventually winds up in Phoenix the way that Barkley did. But for now, Craig and his guaranteed championship ring have an advantage over Cassell, Redd, and all the others.