Blast from the Past: Wheeling and Dealing

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Neither Rome nor a sports franchise can be built in a day. And over the lifetime of any organization, there are deals that can make or break a team. Great trades can elevate an organization to new heights. Bad ones can set it back for years.

The Cavaliers are no exception. Cleveland’s front office has fleeced a team or two, and they’ve been hoodwinked in return. They’ve uncovered diamonds in the rough and lamented the one that got away.

As Cavs.com continues to look back on the building blocks of the Wine and Gold, here’s an abridged list of some of the biggest, best (and not-so-best) transactions from the formative years of the franchise …


August, 1972 – Cavaliers Coach Bill Fitch trades future NBA Champ Butch Beard to the Seattle Supersonics in exchange for Barry Clemens and future Hall of Fame point guard (and the team’s future coach) Lenny Wilkens.

August, 1972 – The Cavaliers acquire former Ohio State star Jim Cleamons from Lakers in exchange for a 1974 second round draft pick (Billy Knight). When Cleamons departs for the Knicks as a free agent in October, 1977, the Cavs are awarded 32-year-old Walt Frazier as compensation.

May, 1974 – The Lakers send center Jim Chones to the Cavaliers for 1975 first-rounder (Junior Bridgeman). After averaging 15.3 ppg in five years with the Cavaliers, Chones is dealt back to the Lakers in October, 1979 in exchange for Dave Robisch and a 3rd round draft pick (Ron Jones) in 1980.

May, 1974 – Fitch swaps first-rounders with Seattle to acquire veteran guard Dick Snyder, one of the heroes of the “Miracle at Richfield.” The Cavs then used Seattle’s first rounder – No. 8 overall – to draft Michigan forward Campy Russell.

November, 1975 – With his young team gelling, but needing a stabilizing veteran, the Cavs send Steve Patterson and guard Eric Fernsten to Chicago in exchange for Akron native and future Hall of Fame center Nate Thurmond along with forward Rowland Garrett.

October, 1979 – After the “Miracle” squad’s rise and fall, the Cavaliers attempted to retool the squad – acquiring forward Kenny Carr from the Lakers in exchange for a 1980 2nd round draft pick (Wayne Robinson) and a 1981 2nd round draft pick (Gene Banks). After three productive seasons in Cleveland, Carr is dealt in February, 1982 – along with center Bill Laimbeer – to the Detroit Pistons for Phil Hubbard, Paul Mokeski, a 1982 1st rounder (John Bagley) and a second-rounder in 1982 (Dave Magley).

February, 1980 – The Cavaliers trade former Marquette hero, Butch Lee, along with their first-round choice in 1982 to the Lakers in exchange for Don Ford and the Lakers top pick, guard Chad Kinch. The pick L.A. acquired in 1982 was future Hall of Fame forward James Worthy.

September, 1980 – The Cavaliers trade Campy Russell – the team’s second-leading scorer – to the New York Knicks for forward Bill Robinzine.

September, 1980 – Four months after being selected by Dallas in the expansion draft, the Mavs send guard Mike Bratz to the Cavaliers for a 1984 1st rounder (Sam Perkins).

October, 1980 – After playing in just eight games with Cleveland, the Cavs send Bill Robinzine – along with a 1983 1st round draft pick (Derek Harper) and a 1986 first-rounder (Roy Tarpley) to the Mavericks in exchange for Richard Washington and Jerome Whitehead. Washington plays in 87 games for the Cavaliers. Whitehead appears in three.

February, 1981 – After 29 games with the Wine and Gold, Chad Kinch is dealt – along with a 1985 1st round pick (Detlef Schrempf) – to the Mavericks in exchange for guard Geoff Huston and a 1983 third-rounder (Larry Anderson).

December, 1981 – One season removed from his All-Star appearance – and after averaging 19.3 ppg in four years with the Cavs – forward Mike Mitchell , along with Roger Phegley is sent to the San Antonio Spurs for Ron Brewer, Reggie Johnson and cash.

December, 1982 – Brewer, the Cavaliers leading scorer from the previous season, is traded to Golden State exchange for former All-Star World B. Free.

May, 1983 – After nearly dismantling the franchise in the early 1980s, NBA owners award new owner Gordon Gund and Cavaliers bonus first round picks in 1983, ‘84, ‘85 and ’86.

June, 1984 – The Washington Bullets send their 1st round pick, former Kentucky center Melvin Turpin to the Cavaliers in exchange for Cleveland’s top pick, Tim McCormick, and forward Cliff Robinson.

June, 1985 – In the second of three straight Draft Day trades, the Cavaliers send John Hay grad, Charles Oakley – the 9th overall selection – and Calvin Duncan (No. 30) to the Bulls in exchange for Keith Lee (11th) and guard Ennis Whatley.

June, 1986 – In a single day in June, the Cavaliers reshape the franchise, acquiring the No. 1 overall pick from the Sixers - which they used on North Carolina big man Brad Daugherty - in exchange for Roy Hinson and cash considerations. After selecting Miami two-guard Ron Harper with the 8th overall pick, the Cavs pry undersized point guard, Mark Price, from Dallas for a 1989 second round pick (Jeff Hodge).

February, 1988 – Before the Trade Deadline, Wayne Embry acquires veteran big men, Larry Nance and Mike Sanders – along with Detroit’s 1st round choice in 1988 (Randolph Keys) – in exchange for Kevin Johnson, Tyrone Corbin, Mark West and the Cavs first round pick in 1988 (Dan Majerle) and Lakers second round pick in 1989.

November, 1989 – On November 15, the night after a 129-104 win over Golden State, Cavalier fans are shocked when Embry trades Ron Harper along with a 1st round draft pick (Loy Vaught), a 1991 2nd round draft pick (Joe Wylie) and a 1992 first-rounder (Elmore Spencer) to the Los Angeles Clippers for former Duke star Danny Ferry and forward Reggie Williams.

September, 1995 – With the Cavaliers moving to a new downtown arena, one of the franchise’s cornerstones – Mark Price – is traded to the Washington Bullets for a first-round choice in 1996 (Vitaly Potapenko).

October, 1995 – Another staple of the team’s recent glory days, Hot Rod Williams, is dealt to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Antonio Lang, Dan Majerle and a 1997 1st round pick (Brevin Knight).

July, 1993 – The Cavaliers acquire rugged forward Tyrone Hill from Golden State for a 1994 first-rounder (Clifford Rozier).

September, 1997 – As part of a three-team deal, former All-Star Hill is traded – along with Terrell Brandon and a 1998 1st round pick (Pat Garrity) to Milwaukee. The Bucks then traded Vin Baker to the SuperSonics and Seattle – bringing former All-Star Shawn Kemp to the Cavaliers.

August, 2000 – As part of another three-team trade, the Cavaliers send Kemp to the Portland Trail Blazers. Miami then traded Chris Gatling, Clarence Weatherspoon and a 2001 first-rounder to Cleveland and receive forward Brian Grant and guard Gary Grant from the Heat.