Worst Trade No. 2: Ted Stepien starts a reign of terror by sending James Worthy
We take a break from our documentary on how the brand-new Dallas Mavericks took Cleveland to the woodshed again and again (yes, we’re not done) to allow the Los Angeles Lakers their turn. The start of Ted Stepien’s reign of terror in Cleveland came back in Feburary of 1980, technically just before he took over the team but certainly under his influence.
The Cavaliers liked what they saw in Don Ford, a forward who averaged 7.1 points per game in 368 games with the Lakers. Why they liked what they saw isn’t clear, but they sent a future first-round pick and Butch Lee to the Lakers for Ford and a 1980 first-round pick that ulatimely became NBA washout Chad Ford.
In 1980 the Lakers were en route to an NBA Championship, so it was obvious that the first-round pick they were adding was going to be a late pick (it was 22 of 23 in the 1980 first round). The pick the Cavaliers sent to Los Angeles, however, became the No. 1 pick in 1982. The Lakers drafted James Worthy, one of the pillars of the Showtime Lakers who won four more titles in the decade.
At least the Cavs got Don Ford, right? Well, he would average just 3.8 points per game over the next two seasons before his NBA career was over. That’s right: James Worthy, a Hall of Fame player and four-time NBA champion, was traded for just 398 total points from Ford and a wasted pick.