Ball Don't Lie - NBA

He -- or at least his career, at least - has become a bit of a joke. You can't deny that. There have been plenty of Quentin Richardson(notes) quips this summer. 

But then again, think of the audience.

Nothing against you, me, us - the sort of people I outlined in this column a little while ago - but Q-Rich's summer abroad has really only been turned into gag-worthy humor by the sorts of people that are watching Darko Milicic(notes), still. Or understand what a millstone Zach Randolph(notes) is. Or can actually remember what the Clippers picked up in return for Quentin Richardson. Or the people that actually remembered that, yes, Mark Blount(notes) was still in the NBA.

Actually, with that last one, I may have taken it too far.

Either way, the man was traded four times this summer because at some point in his career he earned a rather large contract to play NBA basketball, and because his skill set is still at a point where teams can tell themselves, "and if we can't trade him for more immediate relief, I've no problem putting Q out there for 20 minutes a game."

That's nothing to joke about. And the best part of it? He's now landed in a place where he'll actually play.

Richardson was sent to Miami yesterday, for Mark Blount. Blount is set to make less than Richardson does in the final year of both of their contracts, just enough for a trade between the two to be cap-legal, and the Timberwolves will likely waive Blount before the season starts and call the pocketed difference in the two's salaries worth all the trouble. In today's climate, as much as they could have used Q-Rich or even Blount on the floor in 2009-10, I can't blame them.

And though Richardson is a (more than likely) candidate to be traded once or even twice by next February's trade deadline, it should also be pointed out that he's rather close with fellow Chicagoan and fellow Heatian (for now, for both) Dwyane Wade(notes), and that keeping a friend in the locker room might be a sound move for Miami, especially after a summer of inaction. Inaction, I should point out, that I'm fully in favor of.

Richardson should get minutes, too. He can still play, if he's in shape, and Tim Grover (who Richardson has been working out with) doesn't tend to let too many people leave his summer sights with the chance that they could make him look bad.

The Heat don't really have a proper small forward. It's Yakhouba Diawara(notes) and James Jones(notes) and Michael Beasley(notes) shoehorned into a position he's clearly not comfortable with (though hardly a position he can't help at). Richardson is far from a panacea, but he's a one-year rental that keeps the 2010 party line intact, and that's an absolute win-win.

Same for the Timberwolves. After acquiring Richardson from the Clippers, they got out of having to play Sebastian Telfair(notes) $2.7 million next year (though, really, would that have been such a bad thing for the price of retaining Craig Smith(notes) and guard depth this season?), and they save about $1.7 million for turning Richardson's expiring contract into Blount's. Right now, the league is that interested in $1.7 million.

I don't want to diminish the uncertainty that Richardson has had to have been feeling for the last few years. As soon as 2008-09 turned the corner, and Q was taking on the look of someone approaching expiring status, the whispers began. Then, four trades in fewer than two months, with the last one bandied about for a few weeks, with more (honestly) possibly to come. Even if he's mates with D-Wade. Even if he can play.

So, establish a nice middle. Understand that, with his salary and his quality of life, Richardson can well afford to be tossed about like this. But that, at any price, it isn't the easiest thing to do deal with.

Also, did you hear the one about Quentin Richardson, Pontius Pilate, and the girl at the Avis counter? What, Steve told you? Classic, man. Classic.

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