Worst Trade No. 3: Cavs send two firsts for bench players
Walking back in time four months, the Cavaliers had made another trade with the Dallas Mavericks. In October of 1980, just a few weeks into the season, the Cavaliers decided to target a pair of players on the Mavericks. On the surface, that seemed like an obviously foolish decision.
Dallas, in their first season of existence, had added players through the expansion draft to begin their time in the NBA. That meant these were players generally not wanted by the rest of the league. The Cavaliers, however, decided these were the players to go after in trades — and more so, to pay through the nose to add.
Center Jerome Whitehead averaged 5.3 points and four rebounds per game in seven appearances for the Mavericks in 1980-81; that was double the 2.5 points he averaged the season before. Richard Washington, a power forward, put up 10 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 11 games for Dallas. Again: both of these players were unprotected in the expansion draft and were relatively unproductive on a brand-new team destined for 15 wins.
The Cavaliers and Ted Stepien decided they wanted there players so badly that they traded their 1983 and 1985 first-round picks for the pair. Were they on to something? They sure won’t! Whitehead played only three games before the Cavaliers waived him a month later! Washington wasn’t much better, lasting 87 games in two seasons and averaging 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, reaped the rewards of the deal. The first pick conveyed in 1983 and was the 11th overall pick, where the Mavericks picked Derek Harper, a longtime starting point guard who made multiple All-Defensive teams. In 1987, the Mavs used the other pick to take Roy Tarpley seventh overall; he looked like a future star before substance abuse derailed his career.