It's time for another SB Nation wide post. This time the NBA blogs here on SBN will be posting about their team's best trade ever. Andrew, Jeff, and I weighed in below ...
While the Chauncey Billups-for-Allen Iverson trade is notable for how good Billups was and how poorly Iverson turned out for the Pistons, rarely does a trade come along where you get a future Hall of Famer nowhere near the peak of his career for a former All-Star on the downside of his career. That's exactly what the Nuggets did when they were able to unload McGinnis - whose best years were spent with the ABA's Pacers - for English, who would go on to become the best Nugget of all-time, appear in eight All-Star games, finish 15th in all-time NBA scoring and lead the Nuggets to nine consecutive playoff appearances, including a franchise record 54-win season in 1987-88 (that has since been match during the 2008-09 season).
English remains one of the most underrated players in NBA history and still doesn't get his due (I guess "Amazing Grace and Chuck" was that bad). Being left off the NBA's 50 Greatest list, in particular, was an atrocity. If you have a spare moment, I strongly encourage you to look at English's career stats. Not only was he a prolific scorer, but he was a respectable rebounder, dished out a number of assists, and was remarkably durable. During English's 10 full seasons in Denver, he missed a total of seven games. Seven!!
The Alex English Trade in 1980, much like drafting Carmelo Anthony in 2003, allowed all the moves that followed to be much easier. Once you have "that" guy (which English was) each subsequent draft and trade becomes about adding complimentary pieces. Not only that, but George McGinnis was a shadow of his former self by the time the Nuggets traded him, and it ended up being one of the most lop-sided trades in NBA History.
February 21, 2002: Nuggets acquired Juwan Howard, Tim Hardaway, Donnell Harvey, Dallas' 2002 first-round draft pick (Frank Williams), and cash in exchange for Nick Van Exel, Raef LaFrentz, Avery Johnson, and Tariq Abdul-Wahad.
Sometimes trades are not always about the players you get back. In the case of Feb. 21, 2002 that is exactly what happened with the Nuggets. Their mega-trade with the Dallas Mavericks wasn't about the players the Nuggets received in the trade, it was more about creating flexibility for the future and bottoming out a bit to have a chance at LeBron James or an up-and-coming prospect, Carmelo Anthony.
Van Exel was making $10.1 million, LaFrentz was making $3.75 million, Johnson was making $4.5 million, and Wahad was making $5.06 million as part of his 7-year $43.3 million deal. In exchange, the Nuggets took on the last year and a half of Howard's bloated deal where he was making $20.6 million during the 2002-03 season. Hardaway was making just $1 million and Harvey only $992K.
Getting Howard's deal off the books by the 2003 off-season allowed the Nuggets to sign Andre Miller, Earl Boykins, Jon Barry, Voshon Lenard, and re-sign Chris Andersen. All the moves made after that are history. The Nuggets new era was ushered in and it eventually peaked with the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Can you imagine Melo playing alongside Van Exel and LaFrentz, and having the team saddled with Wahad's contract until 2007?
In a sense, that blockbuster with the Mavericks back in 2002 has allowed the Nuggets to make the moves that you see today. That's my vote for the Nuggets' best trade.
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