Dirk Nowitzki's trade to Dallas is now esteemed in Mavericks' lore. However, when Don Nelson made a draft-day deal for the young 7-foot German, it was a much different story. Mavs' fans were highly skeptical and other NBA followers enjoyed a hearty chuckle.
We all know who got the last laugh.
Interestingly, the Dirk deal and others that resulted in the Mavs' 2010-11 championship roster could have easily been surpassed by a trade in the 1980s. That Dallas deal was a steal and ranks near the top of the Mavericks' top 10 trades ever.
But it should have been one of the best trades in NBA history, even better than the Dirk Nowitzki robbery.
February 13, 2010
DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood were acquired from the Washington Wizards for Josh Howard, Quinton Ross, Drew Gooden and James Singleton.
Butler and Howard were the leading men when this deal went down; however, Caron was injured during the Mavs' 2010-11 title run and Howard's promising career was in free-fall.
Haywood was supplanted as the Mavs' starting center by Tyson Chandler but did play a key role off the bench in the 2011 playoffs.
Stevenson drove everybody crazy by jacking up horrible three-point shots in those playoffs, until he suddenly got red hot in the Finals. The self-proclaimed "LeBron Stopper" also lived up to his defensive billing against the Miami Heat, and the Mavs scored one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.
November 25, 1985
James Donaldson was acquired by the Mavericks from the Los Angeles Clippers for Kurt Nimphius.
To this day, Donaldson is still the Mavs' all-time leader with 1,296 offensive rebounds. "Dukes" also ranks second in franchise history with a 55.1 field-goal percentage and third with 615 blocked shots.
Nimphius was also a swat machine, and his 475 blocks still ranks fifth on the Mavs' career list. "Nimpho" also ran marathons in his spare time. In fact, his athleticism earned him a NimphoManiacs cheering section among the Reunion Rowdies.
However, the much beefier Donaldson provided the Mavs with their first true center. As an All-Star in 1988, Donaldson was instrumental in the Mavericks' run to their first conference finals.
Tyson Chandler was more effective in his one season in Dallas, but Donaldson's six solid seasons arguably make him the Mavericks' greatest center.
July 9, 2009
Shawn Marion was dealt to Dallas from the Toronto Raptors in a four-team trade. An aging Jerry Stackhouse was the best player the Mavs had to give up. What a bargain!
How could this only be the eighth-best trade in franchise history? Great question Matrix fans.
First of all, don't worry too much because Marion is used to being underrated. There is no doubt the all-around play of The Matrix was invaluable to the Mavs' 2010-11 championship team. However, virtually every key player on that team was acquired by trade. Stay tuned.
August 4, 2004
Jason Terry, Alan Henderson and a future first round draft pick were acquired from the Atlanta Hawks for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk. Walker was a self-proclaimed "volume shooter"—never a good thing.
"The Jet" was a prolific shooter who was brought in to replace departed free agent Steve Nash. Terry was never a true point guard but found his niche in Dallas as the NBA's best sixth man.
Before the 2010-11 season even started, Terry had the gumption to tattoo his right bicep with the Larry O'Brien trophy. Indeed, "The Jet" was on the runway to his first NBA title as he lit up LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
December 10, 1980
Kiki Vandeweghe was the Mavericks' first-ever NBA draft pick (11th overall) in 1980 despite announcing he would not sign with Dallas. Kiki stuck to his guns, so the Mavs hunted down an even better sharpshooter.
Rolando Blackman would land in Dallas after Vandeweghe was finally dealt to the Denver Nuggets on December 10,1980. Blackman was selected ninth overall in the 1981 draft with the key draft pick from the Vandeweghe trade.
Blackman made three NBA All-Star teams with Dallas; he ranks second in franchise history to Dirk Nowitzki in points scored (16,643) and second behind Brad Davis in field goal percentage among Mavs guards (49.7 percent).
Blackman and Davis remain the only two Mavericks to have their numbers retired.
February 19, 2008
Jason Kidd returned to Dallas in a blockbuster deal with the New Jersey Nets. Kidd, Malik Allen and Antoine Wright were acquired for Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell, Keith Van Horn, Maurice Ager, DeSagana Diop and two first-round draft picks.
Many observers thought Kidd was too far past his prime to warrant being traded even straight up for Harris. Many people aren't as smart as Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban would prove to be.
Kidd had plenty left in the tank and orchestrated the Mavericks to their first NBA title in the 2010-11 season. Kidd not only solidified his Hall of Fame credentials in his second stint with Dallas, he firmly entrenched himself as one of the top-five point guards in NBA history.
July 13, 2010
Tyson Chandler was acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats along with Alexis Ajinca for Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera, Matt Carroll and cash considerations.
In one illustrious season, Chandler arguably became the greatest center in Mavericks history. Tyson's defensive presence was the perfect complement to Dirk Nowitzki on the Mavs' championship front-line.
Previously, Dampier had been one of the Mavs' best centers by default; by the time this deal went down, Damp was on the downside of a mediocre career.
September 16, 1980
The Mavericks franchise was built quickly due to the generosity and stupidity of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In the biggest heist of all, the expansion Mavs traded guard Mike Bratz to the Cavs on September 16,1980 (the Mavs only wanted to trade a hot dog for a first-round pick, but the Cavs shrewdly held out for a Bratz).
The 1984 first-round pick that the Mavs received became the fourth overall selection of the best draft in NBA history. "The Condor" Sam Perkins was selected by Dallas one pick after his North Carolina teammate Michael Jordan.
There was no scenario for the Mavs to get Jordan; however, Charles Barkley was available and would have been devastating in Dallas with the backcourt of Ro Blackman and Derek Harper. As it was, Barkley had to toil in Philadelphia after being picked fifth overall.
That being said, Perkins was a very good player and this trade helped propel the Mavericks into one of the NBA's best teams. Perk's more widespread nicknames were "Big Smooth" and "Sleepy Sam," and both had logic to them.
June 24, 1998
In a draft day deal, Steve Nash was traded to Dallas from Phoenix for Pat Garrity (more on him later), Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and the Mavs' 1999 first-round pick.
For two seasons, Nash wasn't much better than the players he was acquired for; however, he developed into an All-Star for the Mavs in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. Unfortunately, his two NBA MVP awards came after he rejoined the Suns as a free agent in 2004.
June 24, 1998
In a draft day deal, Dirk Nowitzki (ninth overall pick) was traded to Dallas with Pat Garrity's draft rights (19th overall) and Milwaukee received Robert "Tractor" Traylor (sixth overall).
One of the most lopsided trades ever. Don Nelson wasn't only a Hall of Fame coach, he was also a Hall of Fame GM.
Dirk became an NBA MVP and Finals MVP. He has scored more than 24,000 points as a Mav and is a lock for the Hall of Fame. Garrity helped bring in another future Hall of Famer in Steve Nash. The late Traylor never made an impact in the NBA after starring at Michigan.