Marc Daniels: How The Penny Trade 30 Years Ago Connects To Paolo Today

Penny Hardaway Magic

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Pat Williams stood backstage at the 1993 NBA Draft team party where in moments he was about to walk out in front of thousands of Orlando Magic fans inside the old Orlando Arena and share the news. The team president wondered what the reaction would be. Magic fans assumed the team was drafting Chris Webber, the projected number one pick, to pair with Shaquille O'Neal and give the Magic a dominant frontcourt. But Williams was about to stun the crowd. He was about to tell them the team had made a trade with the Golden State Warriors and would be getting Penny Hardaway and three future number one picks in exchange for sending Webber to the Bay Area. Magic fans booed when Williams shared the news. They couldn't believe what the organization had done. Little did they know what a Penny and Shaq duo would bring and no one knew what would happen with those draft picks in the years to come.

The young duo of Penny and Shaq took the team to the NBA Finals in 1995 before losing in four games to the Rockets. One year later, Shaq was off to Hollywood and the Magic were not the same. But on June 30, 1993 the Magic made the deal for Hardaway and along the way got number one picks from the Warriors for 1996, 1998 and 2000. The Magic moved the 96' and 98' picks with Scott Skiles in 1994 in a deal with the then-Washington Bullets.

That 1996 pick became center Todd Fuller and the 1998 pick ended up back in Golden State, who drafted Vince Carter- who became Rookie of the Year. Carter was traded on draft night to Toronto for the 5th pick- Antawn Jamison.

The Magic kept that 2000 pick from the Penny-Webber deal. That 1999-2000 season was the "Heart and Hustle" year with Doc Rivers as the coach. The Magic went 41-41 in its first season without Penny. The Magic owned the 10th overall pick but the Golden State pick from the original Penny deal became the 5th pick in the draft after the NBA Lottery.

Kenyon Martin went first in that draft to the New Jersey Nets. Stromile Swift went second to Vancouver followed by Darius Miles to the Clippers and Marcus Fizer went fourth to Chicago. The Magic were up next and they selected Florida guard Mike Miller fifth overall.

Miller was fresh off a NCAA Championship game appearance with the Gators, who had lost to Michigan State. It was Billy Donovan's fourth season in Gainesville and Miller decided to turn pro after his sophomore year. 

Mike Miller played in all 82 games in his rookie season and was named the Rookie of the Year. He averaged 12 points and four rebounds per game and shot over 40% from three point range. Miller lasted less than three seasons in Orlando. He was traded at the deadline in 2003 to Memphis in a deal that saw Gordan Giricek and Drew Gooden come to Orlando.

Miller went on to play 17 seasons in the NBA and won two titles with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013 and made north of $93M in his career.

After retiring in 2017, Miller joined Penny Hardway's staff at the University of Memphis a year later when Hardway took over the Tigers' program. 

Miller learned about this rising underclassman in the Seattle area who began to dominate area high school hoops. He wanted to see for himself. What Miller found was a young, raw, but very talented player named Paolo Banchero. The two hit it off immediately and Miller was among the first to offer Banchero a scholarship. In the end, Paolo chose Duke and their famous Coach K, but the bond between the two had been created.

When Miller chose to move from coaching to representation, he launched LIFT Sports Management in 2020. Miller believed he could connect with young players because of his playing and coaching experience. He was right and the agency quickly grew with the likes of Wendell Carter Jr. and RJ Hampton. So it was not shocking that when Paolo Banchero chose to leave Duke after one season, an old friend would be in contact.

Miller and Banchero formed a business partnership and the agent knew he had someone special. When so-called experts touted Jabari Smith Jr. or Chet Holmgren as the top pick for the 2022 NBA Draft, Miller had no doubt his client was the best choice and had the best chance to be a perennial all-star. When the Magic had to make a choice of who to pick at number one they chose Banchero. The pay off? Another Rookie of the Year likely for the organization(other winners were Shaq and Miller) and a star to build around.

Mike Miller is not surprised about his client's initial campaign. While Banchero has shined on the court, Miller has been busy with business deals and partnerships including Jordan Brand and more. The agent believes the client will have a long and celebrated career and off the court.

Penny and Miller remain close. Hardaway has taken Memphis to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. In years to come Penny may coach in the NBA. He openly talked about coaching the Magic someday after his name popped up when the team moved on from Steve Clifford and before they hired Jamahl Mosley. Miller believes coaching is in his past and he wants to build one of the best agencies to represent players and he's off to a great start.

Penny Hardway, Mike Miller and Paolo Banchero are connected in a unique way. And who knew back in 1993, on a night Pat Williams was booed at the old Orlando Arena, that one of the NBA's biggest trades would still be paying off for the Orlando Magic today...

Final note: When Mike Miller chose Florida over the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky, then Kansas Coach Roy Wiliams was so upset because he felt Florida had to have done something illegal to get Miller he reported to the NCAA what he felt were recruiting violations. The NCAA investigated but found no wrongdoing. Miller's high school coach, Gary Munsen, said Billy Donovan just had a great message about doing something that had never been done before at Florida.

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