HAWTHORN discussed parting with a first-round draft pick for Tom Scully before the former Giant's brown-and-gold medical examination revealed the gravity of his ankle injury.
The NAB AFL Trade Period's most controversial deal ultimately involved the Hawks pinching the dux of the 2009 draft class from Greater Western Sydney for just a 2019 fourth-round selection.
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The wider football public was already up in arms when it emerged this week that Hawthorn's third-round choice – No.53 overall – might get the job done, but even that was being too generous.
This is a player who was an All Australian nominee in 2016 and 2017 and is considered the AFL's best two-way runner, someone who routinely covers an extraordinary 18km in games.
It is doubtful anyone predicted how impactful the March moment Scully's right ankle crumbled beneath him in a Callum Brown tackle would be in his career trajectory.
The 27-year-old, who has played 152 matches in total, fractured the fibula in that ankle and also suffered a syndesmosis injury in a brutal double whammy.
Scully's agonised face in the immediate aftermath told a tale of how bad his injury was, and the Giants expected him to miss about 12 weeks after his surgery in the ensuing days.
There was still hope he would play a part down the stretch for a finals-bound GWS, particularly given his revered professionalism in everything he does.
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But the problem lingered and Scully had a "setback" that saw him reduce his training loads, before the Giants officially put an end to his 2018 season in early August.
It's understood the fracture healed well, but the syndesmosis problem and related bone bruising were what held him back most.
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"No doubt it's disappointing, but at the same time you try and remove yourself from the emotion of it all," Scully told AFL.com.au at the time.
"Once I processed it, I had to think about what's best for my future moving forward. I can't get away from the fact that it was a pretty traumatic injury.
"As much as I'd love to say that I can still play a part in the season and contribute to the team, we came to a point where we had to be realistic.
"Sometimes, you just have to face the hand you've been dealt and move on.
"Realistically, we realised that time was getting away from us (and) we weren't seeing the progress we would have liked, and I had a little setback with my running and had to back off my training loads.
"You can't take any shortcuts with an injury like this, and unfortunately it hasn't worked out the way we'd planned."
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The former Dandenong Stingray underwent a second bout of surgery within the last two months on the troublesome ankle, to remove screws and the plate from the first operation.
In between then and the injury first occurring, the jungle drums were beating about Scully departing Greater Western Sydney, with the Hawks and Essendon linked to him as far back as July.
The Giants and Scully's manager, Mark Kleiman, of TLA Australia, denied to AFL.com.au any knowledge of his desire to leave at that stage.
Hawthorn football boss Graham Wright told NAB AFL Trade Radio on Tuesday he had dealt with only Kleiman until last week, when Scully had his medical.
No other club got to that point with him despite other interest.
The plan is for Scully to resume jogging in about five or six weeks – maybe on an AlterG treadmill at first – and how the ankle responds from there remains to be seen.
"It was a significant ankle injury and that comes with a bit of a risk, but we'll back our medical guys in," Wright said.
"I don't think anyone in the competition doesn't know how much of a pro Tom Scully is and I'm sure he'll do everything possible.
"We don't believe this will be a career-ending injury for Tom, otherwise we wouldn't have entered into it. There is some risk, but … everyone basically comes with some sort of risk."
Scully's career has never been far from the headlines and he first caught the Stingrays' then-regional manager Darren Flanigan's attention as a 13-year-old.
The boy from Berwick went on to win a string of honours through his teenage years and was an under-18 All Australian in both 2008 and 2009 to seal his case to be the No.1 draft pick.
His football feats were impressive enough, but his supreme off-field preparation, the fact he didn't touch alcohol and his quietly spoken, thoughtful ways rounded out his clean-cut image.
Scully and Jack Trengove, who was drafted at No.2, were pitched as Melbourne's saviours at the time and each has gone on a fascinating journey since.
He was fielding questions by his second season about new franchise Greater Western Sydney's interest in him, and that came to fruition when he accepted a $6 million, six-year deal at the end of 2011.
Scully also joined the Giants with doubt hanging over his durability, to do with a left knee injury that dated to surgery he had on a cracked kneecap in his draft year.
That nagging issue and his princely contract meant he carried a huge burden in his early GWS days despite escaping the Melbourne bubble.
But Scully, as he always has, eventually rose to the occasion and became a genuine star in a deep midfield.
He even signed a four-year contract extension – believed to be worth roughly half his original lucrative deal – in what was then his career-best season in 2016, to stay at the Giants through the 2021 campaign.
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Instead, Scully has committed for the next three years with the Hawks, with the potential for a fourth season if he satisfies a games trigger.
He ultimately had interest only in Hawthorn, particularly once the Bombers earned a commitment from his housemate, close friend and fellow ex-Stingray Dylan Shiel.
In a remarkable turn of events, GWS looks set to relinquish Scully, Will Setterfield, Shiel and Rory Lobb by the end of Wednesday night as it battles well-documented salary cap difficulties.
Jon Patton and Jeremy Finlayson were also raised in discussions since Trade Period began eight days ago, with the Giants preparing for more big decisions in 2019.
As for the Scully deal in isolation, we will have to check back in three years' time to see who the winner really was.