February 2000: Alvin Williams
In 1997-98, Alvin Williams's rookie season, he played only 54 games between Portland and Toronto. He missed six weeks from mid-February to the end of March after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The following strike-shortened 1998-99 season, Williams played all fifty games, yet in the 1999-00 campaign, Williams managed only 55 contest. He never missed any one long period of time; in fact, he never even went on the injured list. But he was constantly a game-time decision, missing a game here, a game or two there, a couple more in some mythical third place. His playing time also suffered; apart from 33 minutes in the season finale, Williams did not play double figures minutes in any game over the final two months of the season; this from a man who had started 73 games over the previous 18 months. The reasons he was missing all this time were knee and ankle injuries. And it was because of the right knee that his February trade to Boston was vetoed.
The following season, a resurgent Williams played all 82 games, with 34 starts, totalling 2,394 minutes. That offseason, Toronto re-signed him to a seven year contract (you could do that then), and Alvin responded in 2001-02 with 82 games, all starts, and 2,927 minutes. 2002-03 was much the same, with Alvin playing and starting in 78 games and compiling a total of 2,638 minutes.
However, then it started to go wrong. Williams's right knee, the one which had been operated on and been the reason behind the trade's demise, started to fail him. After offseason left ankle surgery, Williams played most of the early part of the year, but missed two games in late February with more right knee pain. After a small surgery on it and a three week lay-off, Williams returned to play two more games, yet that was all he could manage before being ruled out for the remaining 12 games of the year. Now mindful of the severity of the problem, Williams spent the whole summer rehabbing, while Toronto left him unprotected in the expansion draft (and Charlotte left him unpicked. Williams's knee was described as "bone on bone", and more surgeries on it forced him to miss the whole of the next season.
That wasn't quite it; although Williams missed the whole 2004-05 season, he managed to get 10 minutes of 1 game in November 2005 with the Raptors (who then bought him out, unable to get an injury exemption), and Williams later returned from retirement to play two games on a 10 day contract with the Clippers in January 2007. Nobody said he wasn't tough. That really was it, though, and Williams never played again.
Boston saw enough problems in Williams's knee to refuse to trade for him. Toronto didn't see enough problems in it to prevent them giving him a seven year contract, even after the failed physical. Because of that, they were stuck with paying four years of dead salary. Williams didn't play after March 2004, yet he got paid by Toronto through April 2008. Only Boston's doctors saw it coming.