Ranking the 12 worst trades in Cleveland Cavaliers history

James Worthy#42, Small Forward and Power Forward for the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Pacific Division basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on 15th February 1994 at the Great Western Forum arena in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, United States. The Los Angeles Clippers won the game 100 - 89. (Photo by J.D. Cuban/Allsport/Getty Images)
James Worthy#42, Small Forward and Power Forward for the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Pacific Division basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on 15th February 1994 at the Great Western Forum arena in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, United States. The Los Angeles Clippers won the game 100 - 89. (Photo by J.D. Cuban/Allsport/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
12 of 12
Next
Cleveland Cavaliers
17 Apr 1997: Center Sam Perkins of the Seattle Supersonics stands on the court during a game against the Denver Nuggets at the McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado. The Sonics won the game 108-104. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport /

Worst Trade No. 1: Cavs send Sam Perkins for basically nothing

Now we have arrived, at the very worst trade in the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It may seem impossible to top some of the abject disasters we have already chronicled, but the trade the Cavs made in September of 1980 absolutely takes the cake.

It involves all of the parts of a trade we have come to expect: Ted Stepien impatiently misevaluating players, the Dallas Mavericks taking advantage, and a star player being drafted by another team instead of the Cavaliers.

A young point guard named Mike Bratz was a backup on the Phoenix Suns before the Mavericks took him in their expansion draft, but he would never play a game for the Mavericks. Stepien and the Cavaliers decided they wanted to add Bratz, and sent a 1984 first-round pick to the Mavericks in exchange for him.

Bratz played the entire next season for the Cavs, averaging 10 points per game for a 28-win Cleveland squad. The Cavaliers then sent him to the San Antonio Spurs for a third-round pick. That’s right: in the span of one year, Bratz went from being worth a Cleveland first to a Spurs third.

What did Dallas do with the first-round pick? It became the fourth pick in 1984, and the Mavericks used the pick on power forward Sam Perkins, a teammate of Michael Jordan’s at North Carolina. Perkins would go on to average double-digit scoring in each of his first 13 seasons in the NBA.

dark. Next. 15 worst free agent signings in Cavaliers history

To sum it all up, in the Ted Stepien era the Cavaliers sent five first-round picks for six role players who never did anything for the team; those first-rounders were Sam Perkins, James Worthy, Derek Harper, Detlef Schrempf and Ron Tarpley, all who made an impact in the league. The Cleveland Cavaliers wrote the book on bad trades, and those mistakes led to a lot of heartache for the franchise.