February 24, 2012; Orlando FL, USA; Who was that masked painter? Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Moving right along down the list...
The Dallas Mavericks do not have what many would call a "storied history"; having joined the NBA in 1980 they remain one of the younger franchises in professional basketball, and so a list such as this may not require going too far in the Wayback machine. However, through the years the Mavericks have been one of the league's most active teams on the trade market, a tradition Mark Cuban has proudly continued, if not brought to crescendo. Some trades have been dubious, others hilarious, but these are the five we are calling "the best", under whatever arbitrary criteria so followed.
Find what checks in at #3 after The Jump:
This was a pretty good day for the Mavericks. It followed one of the worst stretches in professional sports history.
From the 1990-'91 season through 1997-'98, the Dallas Mavericks averaged just 22.5 wins a season, good for a 27% winning percentage. I was fortunate to not be a fully aware human being yet for the beginning of that run, including the 11-win season in '92-'93 that rivals the NBA's all-time worst, but I did begin my fandom in this period, so I can tell you from firsthand experience: it was brutal.
The '97-'98 season was one of change. A few years prior, it seemed Dallas might have finally started to build something special again, as years of losing had earned them high draft picks and the talented trio known as "the three J's": Jamal Mashburn, Jim Jackson, and Jason Kidd. This was to be the core of the next contending team in Dallas, but it fell apart before it could even really get off the ground, as injuries stalled development, and a well-publicized feud between Kidd and Jackson eroded team chemistry both on and off the court. The beef was reported to have come about, believe it or not, over singer Toni Braxton, who was caught in the middle of a Shakespearian love-triangle, if you believe the rumors.
Finally, starting in the winter of 1996, Dallas began tearing it down, trading all three of "the J's" in massive deals that ended up resulting in 27 different players suiting up for the Mavericks. The following season, Dallas shifted into the next stage of the rebuilding process, as coach Jim Cleamons was fired and Don Nelson brought in. Nelson's son, Donnie, also came along, having been an assistant for several years prior with the Phoenix Suns.
While in Phoenix, the younger Nelson had convinced the team to draft a young guard from Santa Clara that he had scouted while with the Golden State Warriors and for the World Championships in Toronto. That guard's name? Steve Nash.
Both Nelsons fell in love with the young Nash's game, and made his acquisition a priority, giving up what was, at the time, a pretty significant bounty for a relatively unheralded backup point guard. This is the only reason this trade doesn't rank higher; obviously, Nash is a Hall of Famer and it was a great deal, but it was a pretty significant gamble, with two 1st round draft picks and two young players all going to Phoenix for Scuba Steve.
Nash's time in Dallas was mostly spectacular, but for those that don't remember, it did not start well. Nash came in billed as the future of the franchise, and took a few years to establish himself, enduring several bumps along the way. There was a time, however brief, when it seemed the move to acquire him would prove to be a serious blunder, as Nash struggled to play in control at times and even heard his fair share of boo's from the home crowd. We should all keep this in mind when we rush to judgement on young players. Perhaps one day we'll all recount the days when it seemed we'd given up on Roddy Beaubois, only to be proven wrong...