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Let's Make a Deal

A Look Back and Some of the Trades that Shaped the Wine & Gold
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

Let's Make a Deal

A Look Back and Some of the Trades that Shaped the Wine & Gold


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. Over the existence of the franchise, 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.

In many cases, it’s a circle-of-life thing. The Wine & Gold traded Brendan Haywood on Draft night in 2001 and traded him again exactly 14 years and one month later. And where would the current Cavaliers be if they didn’t have Mo Williams to trade for and with?

As we count down the days until the Cavaliers hit the gym down in Independence to gear up for Training Camp, Cavs.com takes you through some of the landmark deals and decisions that got Cleveland from Jimmy Cleamons to Collin Sexton …


All-Star World B. Free – who many credit with saving professional basketball in Cleveland - was traded to Cleveland on December 15, 1982 from Golden State in exchange for Ron Brewer.
Photo by Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images


Summer, 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. The Cavs then 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.

Summer, 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 1980 3rd round draft pick (Ron Jones). Fitch then swaps first-rounders with Seattle to acquire veteran guard Dick Snyder, one of the heroes of the “Miracle at Richfield” squad. The Cavs then used Seattle’s first rounder – No. 8 overall – to draft Michigan forward Campy Russell.

November 27, 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.

September 25, 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. The Cavaliers then 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.

December 23, 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. After 29 games with the Wine & 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 15, 1982 – Brewer, the Cavaliers leading scorer from the previous season, is traded to Golden State in exchange for former All-Star World B. Free – who many credit with saving professional basketball in Cleveland.

June 18, 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 17, 1986 – In a single day in June, the Cavaliers reshape the franchise, acquiring the No. 1 overall pick from the Sixers 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).


CLEVELAND, OH - 1992: Mark Price #25 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the Denver Nuggets at Richfield Coliseum circa 1992 in Cleveland, OH.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images


February 25, 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 Marjerle) and Lakers second round pick in 1989.

November 15, 1989 – 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 27, 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). 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).

September 25, 1997 – As part of a three-team deal, former All-Star Tyrone 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 30, 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 (Brendan Haywood) to Cleveland and receive forward Brian Grant and guard Gary Grant from the Heat.

July 30, 2002 – Just months after becoming the only Cavalier to lead the league in assists – averaging 10.9 helpers per on a 29-win team – Cleveland sends Andre Miller and Bryant Stith to the Clippers in exchange for Darius Miles and Harold Jamison.

July 23, 2004 – Not long after Carlos Boozer jilts the Cavaliers after his second season, the Cavs swing a deal with Orlando – sending Tony Battie, a 2005 second rounder (Martynas Andriuskevicius) and a 2007 2nd round draft pick (Brad Newley) to the Magic and receiving Drew Gooden, Anderson Varejao and Steven Hunter in return.

February 21, 2008 – In the year following their first trip to the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers swung for the fences in a huge three-team deal – acquiring Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West from the SuperSonics as well as Joe Smith, Ben Wallace and a future second rounder (Danny Green) from the Bulls. In exchange, the Cavaliers sent Shannon Brown, Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Cedric Simmons to the Bulls and Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble to Seattle.

August 13, 2008 – As part of a three-team deal that sees the Wine & Gold ship Damon Jones to Milwaukee and Joe Smith to Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers receive future All-Star Mo Williams from the Bucks.

June 26, 2009 – The Cavaliers send Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic and a future second-rounder (Dwayne Collins) to Phoenix in exchange for future Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal.


CLEVELAND - FEBRUARY 2: Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers posts up against Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the game on February 2, 2010 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images


February 13, 2010 – Along with Emir Preldzic and a 2010 1st rounder (Lazar Hayward) the Cavaliers send franchise icon Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Wizards in exchange for two-time All-Star Antawn Jamison. All is made right in the world 40 days later when Big Z is re-signed by Cleveland for the remainder of the season after being waived by Washington.

February 24, 2011 – Two weeks after snapping a 26-game losing streak, the Cavs swing what seems to be a relatively minor deadline deal – sending Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers in exchange for 32-year-old Baron Davis and an unprotected 2011 first rounder. Unprotected turns out to be the key word in that sentence; the Cavaliers won the Lottery with L.A.’s pick and selected Kyrie Irving No. 1 overall.

Summer, 2014 – With the return of LeBron James to Cleveland, the Cavaliers brass had some work to do in order to make room – dealing Alonzo Gee to New Orleans, Sergey Karasev and Jarrett Jack to Brooklyn and Tyler Zeller to Boston. But the big deal that summer was still to come – with Cleveland packaging the previous two No. 1 overall picks – Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins (2014) – in a three-team deal with the Timberwolves and Sixers, receiving three-time All-Star Kevin Love in exchange.


DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 29: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers controls the ball against Joffrey Lauvergne #77 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 29, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/NBAE via Getty Images


January, 2015 – After drafting him with the 4th overall pick two seasons earlier and just hours before he was about start against his hometown Sixers, the Wine & Gold sent mercurial guard Dion Waiters – along with Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk and a 2019 second rounder – to the Knicks in return for Iman Shumpert and JR Smith – both of who started for Cleveland in the Finals. One day after swinging the Waiters deal, Cleveland sent a pair of first rounders – one in 2016 (Furkan Korkmaz) and one in 2017 (Harry Giles) – in exchange for big man Timofey Mozgov, another key piece of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title-winning squad.

June 25, 2015 – In what seemed like a minor Draft night deal, the Cavaliers added a key piece of their future – sending guard Tyus Jones, who Cleveland selected with the 24th overall pick out of Duke, to Minnesota in exchange for that year’s No. 31 pick – Cedi Osman – and a second rounder in that Draft (Rakeem Christmas).

February 18, 2016 – With the Cavaliers trying to finish a Finals job they’d started the previous June, Cleveland’s front office made one of its most gut-wrenching decisions, sending long-time veteran and fan-favorite Anderson Varejao and a first-rounder in 2018 (Moritz Wagner) to Portland in a three-team deal that sent Jared Cunningham to Orlando and brought veteran stretch-4 Channing Frye to Cleveland. Frye and Varejao – who eventually signed with Golden State – would wind up squaring off that June’s Finals – with Frye’s Cavaliers taking down the Wild Thing’s Warriors in seven games.

January 7, 2017 – Mo Williams often found himself at the center of a significant Cavaliers trade and that was the case again two years ago when the Cavaliers dealt Williams (along with Mike Dunleavy Jr. and a protected 2019 first rounder) to the Hawks in exchange for one of the league’s most prolific three-point marksmen, Kyle Korver.

August 30, 2017 – The basketball world was in its hibernation period when the Cavaliers made the biggest deal of the offseason one summer ago – sending the player who hit the biggest jumpshot in team history to the team they just vanquished in the Conference Finals. Former top overall pick and four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving to the Celtics in return for Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first rounder (Collin Sexton) and the East’s leading scorer from the previous season, Isaiah Thomas – who was still rehabbing from a hip injury suffered in the Playoffs.

February 8, 2018 – Mired in a prolonged funk and with morale starting to slip heading towards the All-Star Break, the Cavaliers brass needed to make a move. They did, swinging a trio of deals that simultaneously salvaged the season and added young talent to an aging roster. On February 8 – one day after winning an overtime thriller over Minnesota – the Wine and Gold sent Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a future first rounder to the Lakers in return for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. That same day, in a three-team deal with Utah and Sacramento, the Cavaliers shipped Iman Shumpert, cash and a future second-rounder to the Kings in exchange for George Hill (and Arturas Gudaitis) while sending Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder to Salt Lake City and brought Rodney Hood back to the North Coast.