Suns F Torrey Craig hopes he isn’t in awkward NBA Finals ring territory

Jul 6, 2021, 9:57 AM
Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig shoots and misses during the first half in Game 6 of the NBA bask...

Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig shoots and misses during the first half in Game 6 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, June 30, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Phoenix Suns could win the NBA Finals, and Torrey Craig could feel grateful that, in a midseason trade, the Milwaukee Bucks shipped him to the desert for cash considerations.

That, or Craig could potentially end up in awkward territory and receive a ring anyway.

Should the Bucks take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, Craig would be eligible to receive a ring. Championship teams often decide to gift rings to players who contributed even for a small portion of the season.

“It’s wild, man. It’s fun, it’s competitive, it’s a blessing to be in the position I am,” Craig said on Sunday. “The NBA is unpredictable, man. I always knew it was a possibility I could play those guys in the Finals. For it to actually happen is pretty crazy.”

Craig is the second player in NBA history to play for both Finals teams in the same season.

In 2015-16, center Anderson Varejao and longtime Cleveland Cavalier was waived by the team and signed by the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors ended up making history by blowing a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to fall to Cleveland, but the Cavs offered Varejao a ring.

He declined on principle.

The next season, Varejao played in 14 games for the Warriors before he was released, but Golden State won the 2017 NBA title and offered him a ring. He accepted that one.

Craig has taken quite the path to the Finals.

The South Carolina native attended college at USC Upstate and played in Australia from 2014-17 before making a jump back to the United States. He played for the Denver Nuggets in the 2017 Summer League and was added to the team on a two-way deal, where he was shuttled from the G League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce and Denver.

By his second season, Craig was a key rotation player for Denver and was with them for a conference finals run in 2020.

He signed with the Bucks this past offseason but didn’t find a role alongside their wing-heavy rotation. Craig shot 39% and averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 18 games before he was traded to Phoenix.

With the Suns this year, he played in 32 games and averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, both of which are career highs.

“I’m happy for Torrey,” Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said on Monday. “I’m excited to see him … us having conversations during the year, we wanted to get to this place. And he did it — not with us, but he did it with a different team.

“Happy for him. He’s out there playing and fighting for the same thing we’re fighting for, but would love to beat him.”

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