Doug Smith is a reporter for the Toronto Star and, unlike a number of other members of the Toronto Press, his articles are for the most part accurate, insightful and entertaining. His points are well made and he provides good commentary on the state of the Raptors. This week, however, we here at RaptorsHQ were reading his new on-line blog called "Nothing but (Inter)Net" where he discussed the Araujo draft and the VC trade. Doug will get an enormous amount of support, as our readers know, for his view that not drafting Iguodala was a big mistake. However, under the VC photo is the caption, "Worst....trade....ever." We at RaptorsHQ take issue with this.
First, let us say that the Vince trade will never be anything but a bad memory for many Raptors fans. The face of the franchise, the player that put Toronto basketball on the NBA map, Vince was the golden boy for those Toronto fans who dared to enjoy anything more than bad Leafs' hockey. Questionable decisions aside, (really does YOUR Mom's parking spot issues credit press?) in particular attending graduation the day of Game 7, Vince filled the seats of the ACC and when he did play (no Allen Iverson) he was fun to watch for a few years. When Carter decided to mail last season in, even before it started, and he became a mediocre jump shooter at best, it was clear the Vince era was over and the Bosh era had begun. We all know what we received in the deal....well sort of. Eric and Aaron Williams, Joey Graham, a first round pick next year and a selfish player with a good kidney but no understanding of the word "professional". Right from the beginning it was clear that the key to this deal were the two first rounders. Graham is a player, that much is obvious already, and although next year's draft looks a little shady, there are some good talents. So to state outright, that this was the worst trade ever? Please Doug, you cover the NBA, so don't make such broad statements without doing some research.
So we decided to take a quick peek at a few "bad" to "terrible" trades in the past few years that can only be considered worse than the Vince deal. In no particular order here are our favorite 5.
When: Draft Day, 1998.
To Mavs: Dirk Nowitzki, Pat Garrity
To Bucks: Robert "Tractor" Traylor
Bad trade? Let's think about this one. The Mavs trade a guy, who although was a good college player at Michigan, was undersized and was essentially the prototype for future spokesmen for IHOP, Mike Sweetney, Jerome James, and a latter day Shawn Kemp. And what did they get? Arguably one of the top 5 players in the NBA today. Dirk, everyone knows, is an NBA star. Better than Vince? Considering the position he plays, damn right. Dirk, although early on, is averaging 24.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, and has lead this Mavs team to a 7-2 start.
What has Traylor done this year....oh right...out of the league (ok bad heart but the teams won't be lining up for his services when if ever he comes back). Seems like a great deal for the Bucks. To think what the Bucks could have done a few years later with a starting 5 of Cassell, Allen, Big Dog, Dirk, and a serviceable Ervin Johnson? That is a powerhouse line-up.
Oh and let's not forget the Mavs later used Garrity that same day to secure some guy named Steve Nash. Yeah not bad.
When: July 23, 2004
To Cavs: Drew Gooden, Anderson Varajeo and Steven Hunter
To Magic: Tony Battie, two second-round picks.
And you wonder why the Magic continue to struggle. Not only did the Cavs ditch a large contract in Battie, but they managed to pick up what is now their starting power forward in Gooden, a terrific prospect in Varajeo and Steven Hunter who, although not with the Cavs, is now playing the best ball of his career with the 76ers this season. Now don't get us wrong, Drew Gooden will never live up to the hype surrounding him when he was drafted out of Kansas in 2002, but he is a consistent double-double threat and Varajeo is an untouchable on the re-built Cavaliers.
What did the Magic get? A players whose career averages are 6.5 ppg and 5.7 rpg. Something seems wrong here...oh yeah must be the fact that the Magic got HOSED in this deal.
When: July 2, 2004
To Rockets: Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue, and Reece Gaines
To Magic: Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Kelvin Cato
Now although there was not a lot of uproar when this trade happened, everyone knew the Magic got taken for a ride when this deal went down. (This is their second time on this list). Tracy McGrady, bad back and all, is still an elite player in the NBA. Juwan Howard, now that he is not getting paid a disgustingly disproportionate amount of money, is a serviceable PF. Tyronn Lue was then traded for Jon Barry, who has been a great contributor to the Rockets, and Reece Gaines. Although Gaines has never lived up to his first round pick expectations, the Rockets then went on to use him in another deal to get Mike James from the Bucks, and then flipped him for Rafer Alston, who is now their starting PG.
What did the Magic get? Steve Francis, who is essentially Stephon Marbury - good but not good enough to lead a team to an NBA Championship, a serviceable center in Cato, and Mobley, who was then promptly traded to Sacramento for Doug Christie and Doug Christie's wife. Doug was a casualty of the Allan Houston Rule, so essentially the Magic got an over-hyped PG and a back-up center for T-Mac and friends. Now that's a raw deal. How did the Magic not even get draft picks?
This might be one of the worst trades in the past ten years and overshadows the Carter deal by leaps and bounds. This deal may have set the franchise back a good five years.
When: July 14, 2004
To Heat: Shaquille O'Neal
To Lakers: Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and a 1st round pick
Well, there is trading an NBA star, and then there is trading arguably the most dominant force in the NBA. You can evaluate this trade in a number of ways. For example, how many championships have the Heat won since the deal, how dramatic of a fall have the Lakers taken and so on... One thing, however, is certain. The whole Lakers management team should be fired after this deal. Post-trade, the Heat automatically became a title contender. The Lakers? They are now the second best team in the Staples Center.
The Lakers traded for a solid SF (who may or may not really fit into the triangle) in Odom, a Allan Houston casualty in Grant and Caron Butler. The worst part of this is that Butler and Atkins (a serviceable back-up PG) were flipped for Kwame Brown, possibly the worst first pick overall ever. Kwame makes Olowakandi look like a steal at the top spot. The first round pick will be a late one but you never know what gems are at the bottom of the draft. Even so, the Lakers traded Shaq. 'Nuff said.
In fact, even writing about this O'Neal trade makes me realize I didn't even have to discuss the others above to prove my point that the VC trade is far from the worst trade ever, let alone in the past 5 years. If I really wanted to look at all the NBA trades I am positive there are at least 20 or more trades whereby one team looked a whole lot worse than the Raps after VC.
So, Mr. Smith, please continue your solid coverage of the Raptors. We enjoy it, not simply because your reporting is the lesser of all evils, but because usually it is accurate and entertaining. In the mean time, however, let's not forget there are 29 other GM's out there who have made a bad deal or two in their time...