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Worst...Trades...Ever (Draft Day Version)

The 2009 NBA Draft is upon us. This year’s crop of college players is one of the weaker groups in a few years. Outside of Blake Griffin, there are no sure things. I haven’t checked yet, but I think Hasheem Thabeet may be Swahili for “Shawn Bradley” and the top point guard is an 18 year old phenom out of Spain that hasn’t been able to work out for anyone because of illnesses. There hasn’t been a prospect with as little to judge on since Yi Jianlian earned his nickname “Chairman” Yi by crossing over a bunch of folding picnic seats. Throw in the fact that Chris Wallace and the LA Clippers have the top two picks, and this is bound to be a draft that will go down in infamy. To properly celebrate, I thought we could go over some of the worst draft trades in NBA history.

Dallas trades Robert Traylor to Milwaukee for Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity

Yes folks, the same Robert “Tractor” Traylor that we grew to know and love during his one season at the beginning of the LeBron James era was traded for Dirk. To make the trade worse for Milwaukee, Dallas immediately flipped Garrity for some chump change and a young point guard named Steve Nash. For this trade alone, the basketball gods have damned Milwaukee with one tease in 2001 as they lost the Eastern Conference Finals in seven games and 50 years of terrible basketball and piss poor weather. Only 40 more years left Bucks fans!

Chicago trades Olden Polynice to Seattle for Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen won six championships as one of the greatest second bananas of all-time. Olden Polynice went on to average just under eight points and seven rebounds for his career. Polynice also went on a hunger strike in 1993 to show sympathy for 230 Hatian refugees infected with HIV and detained in Guantanamo Bay. At least they got a better citizen than “No Tippin’” Pippen. Wait…Polynice was also charged with impersonating a Police office twice and beat up a golfer after someone in said golfer’s group accidently hit him with a golf ball. The guy he punched had the stones to actually apologize, which was why Polynice punched and spat on the guy. Makes sense.

Los Angeles Lakers trade Vlade Divac to Charlotte for Kobe Bryant

One of the best 15 players in NBA history for the best flopper in NBA history. I would be without one of my favorite basketball memories ever if it weren’t for this trade. My parents got courtside seats during the Bobby Phills/Chris Mills years for a game against the Hornets. During every timeout Divac would get pushed out of the huddle until the trainer gave him his SpeedStick and he put on some deodorant. So Divac goes down as the best flopper and the worst smelling player in NBA history; on second thought, that’s a fair trade.

Toronto trades Antawn Jamison to Golden State for Vince Carter

This was not a terrible trade for either side, but it had to be included for sheer pointlessness. Toronto drafted Jamison fourth and Golden State took Carter fifth, so naturally the teams needed to trade them for each other. The most shocking thing about this trade – it happened after Isiah Thomas left the Toronto front office.

Minnesota trades Randy Foye to Portland for Brandon Roy

Foye was originally drafted by Boston – who shipped him to Portland for Sebastian Telfair and the remains of Theo Ratliff. Kevin McHale then made the trade that got him fired, until his meeting with Timberwolves’ ownership. He looked them in the eye and said, “I will win us a championship in the next two years, you have my word.” It wasn’t revealed until two years later that he still thinks as the Boston Celtics as “us.”

Cleveland trades future second round pick (Jeff Hodge) to Dallas for Mark Price

If the name Jeff Hodge doesn’t sound familiar, don’t worry. He never played a game in the NBA, but he is currently managing the top selling Wendy’s in the Greater Dallas area. Meanwhile, we all know that Mark Price became a Cavaliers legend and gave thousands of short white kids in Northeast Ohio dreams of playing at Richfield Coliseum in really short shorts.

Any move made by Red Auerbach

First scenario: St. Louis makes a great selection, taking Bill Russell third. Auerbach then makes a Godfather offer (one they can’t refuse), St. Louis native Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. Macauley made seven consecutive All-Star games (one after the trade) and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1960. Hagan made five NBA All-Star games after the trade and inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1978. Auerbach gave up a lot but got the centerpiece of 11 NBA titles and the only player who will have his name on every NBA Finals MVP trophy given from here on out. The biggest reason why this is a lopsided trade is what could have been – Russell, who averaged 22.5 rebounds per game for his career and widely regarded as the greatest winner in American team sports history, teamed up with Bob Pettit, who averaged 24.5 points per game and 15.1 rebound per game for his career and was named 1st team All-NBA 10 times.

Second scenario: The first five picks in the 1978 NBA Draft: Mychal Thompson, Phil Ford, Rick Robey, Michael Ray Richardson and Purvis Short. Picks 7-10: Ron Brewer, Freeman Williams, Reggie Theus and Butch Lee. Auerbach decided to take advantage of a loophole in the system and select a slow white kid going into his senior year of college named Larry Bird sixth. Auerbach knew he wouldn’t get a franchise guy right away, so he took the guy he wanted next year, happened to turn out pretty well.

Third scenario: Boston has the first overall draft pick in 1980. Red wants to draft Kevin McHale but realizes he is not going to go number one. He praises a guy named Joe Barry Carroll up and down in the papers and to other scouts and personnel men until everyone is convinced he is going to take him. At this point Auerbach is already a legend and other GM’s would wonder what they were doing wrong with a certain player if he wasn’t performing and Auerbach wanted him. Golden State ends up falling in love with Carroll as well and offers Boston the third pick in the draft and a throw in for Boston’s pick. Auerbach ends up with McHale for Joe Barry Carroll. Oh yeah, the throw in happened to be Robert Parish. The lesson from these three scenarios: Red Auerbach was playing chess while every other player personnel man was playing with themselves.

-Patrick Bauch


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