The Lakers and their ‘Mega Trades’

MagicIn a recent Mark Stein chat, when asked about a possible JO/Kobe pairing, he responded that “history says that the Lakers always get saved by a mega trade like this.” Stein’s statement is definitely without precedent as the history he speaks of reinforces.

There are those who will say that a trade for Garnett or JO or any other big-name star is not possible with the ‘trash’ the Lakers have to roster. Without arguing their evaluation of the trade value of the Lakers players (we’ll save that for another day), Lakers History tells us that there have been a number of occurences where the Lakers have sent out less than stellar players in trades that netted not just All-Star players or Franchise players, but Hall of Famers.

I will present the acquisitions of five of the biggest names in Lakerdom and let you be the judge.

Let’s start with the most recent. In 1996, the Lakers traded Center Vlade Divac for the rights to a player coming out of high school that the then Charlotte Hornets took with the 13th pick. While this was not a ‘mega trade’ at the time, when Laker fans look back at this trade, it is one of the biggest reasons for the ThreePeat Dynasty Laker fans experienced at the turn of the millenium. Exhibit #1: The Lakers trading for the rights of Kobe Bryant.

Going back to the early 1980′s, in 1982 the Lakers acquired the rights to the Cavaliers #1 pick and Butch Lee for the Lakers #1 and Don Ford. The Cavaliers #1 pick resulted in the #1 overall pick of the 1982 draft and subsequently into the affectionately named “Big Game” James Worthy.

Going back a couple of years to the late 1970s, and a contract dispute with Gail Goodrich whose end result was the Lakers acquiring picks in compensation from the Jazz.

A messy salary dispute led Goodrich to play out his option in 1976 and sign as a free agent with the New Orleans Jazz, leaving a team with which he had spent nine years. In a complex and controversial deal, Cooke allowed him to sign with the Jazz in return for two future first-round draft choices and a second-round pick. The trade, although criticized at the time, paid off for the Lakers a few years later, when they used one of the picks from the Jazz to select Magic Johnson No. 1 overall in the 1979 NBA Draft.

Now, the three instances previously noted involved the Lakers making what ended up being ‘mega trades’ but included draft picks that led to the Lakers acquiring 3 of the best players to ever put on the Purple & Gold. Now, let’s talk about two instances where the Lakers acquired two established superstars of the league while sending out less talent.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (aka Lou Alcindor) enjoyed immense success in Milwaukee when paired with Oscar Robertson. After his conversion to Islam though, a new situation arose:

Despite his phenomenal success in Milwaukee, Abdul-Jabbar was unhappy due in part to the lack of people who shared his religious and cultural beliefs and wanted out. He requested that he be traded to either New York or Los Angeles, and Bucks General Manager Wayne Embry complied, sending Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers in 1975 for Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith, and Brian Winters.

Obviously, a situation of a ‘perfect storm’, but the Lakers benefit from a situation with an All-Star on another team, make a play for the player and paved the way for them to become the dominant franchise of the 1980′s as one piece of the Showtime Dynasty was acquired.

But, this was not the first time the Lakers had acquired a Star Center unhappy with the situation on his team. There are debating reports as to what the exact problem was, but the end result was a disgruntled Wilt Chamberlain en route to Los Angeles in exchange for Darrall Imhoff, Archie Clark and Jerry Chambers, where the Lakers would win the championship in 1972 after a 69-win season.

That’s five instances of five of the greatest players in not just Laker history, but NBA history being acquired by the Lakers in trades that, when looked back at, hardly seem fair.

A line-up of

PG Magic Johnson

SG Kobe Bryant

SF James Worthy

C Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

C Wilt Chamberlain

Acquired for: Vlade Divac, Gail Goodrich, Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Darral Imhoff, Archie Clark, Jerry Chambers, and a late No. 1 pick in the 1982 NBA Draft.

Hardly seems fair does it?

What these instances show us is that the NBA trade market is not always talent driven, but rather business driven. The players being traded are still people, as are the executives trading them. Chamberlain and Abdul-Jabbar were traded for less than equal value because of extenuating circumstances. The rights to Magic, Kobe, and Big Game were all traded to the Lakers by other General Managers who would probably not have done so knowing what we know now.

Fast Forward to the present day. Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’neal are on losing teams, both with player options to get out of their contracts after this upcoming season leaving their respective teams with zero compensation. This would seem to reduce their trade value while opening the doors to potential suitors such as the Lakers. Add to O’neal’s case that, like Kareem, there have been reports of his desire to play in New York or Los Angeles, and we can see why a combination of Lakers trade pieces currently–which are still attractive and include Lamar Odom (versatile 3/4), Kwame Brown (expiring contract) and Andrew Bynum (young center with potential)–are conceivably enough to get a deal done for an impact big, even if the talent swap is equal. As long as the salaries are within 25% of each other, that’s what might matter most.

Even the youngest of Laker fans know this is true. It was proved to them by another O’neal.

*information from Hoopedia.com, NBA.com, and individual wikipedia articles were referenced and quoted in the making of this entry.

  • One35

    Podium how confident are you that we will get something done?

  • The Podium

    That something will get done? Actually, I’m pretty confident. Whether or not that something is significant enough to make an impact, I’m not sure. But, I do think we’ll so some activity in the front office in the form of a trade. Don’t know if it’ll be KG, JO, Grant Hill, or just a PG who can stay in front of his man, but I think something will get done. It has to. Obviously not from any inside info, for some reason this offseason just has that feel to it to me though.

    And, I’m not saying that we’re going to have another Wilt or Cap situation on our hands because most franchises will probably never experience something like that, but if the organization re-commits, I’m optimistic that this team will open next season better than it ended this past one.

  • One35

    I’m pretty confident about getting JO especially after the Lotterys were set.

  • bigbadjames

    wow. its like we’re destined to be good next year. how could you dispute all those championships in the past. we are the rightful heirs!!! I’m exited!!!

  • http://www.gator21.com Later Gator

    Man screw all that. The reason all of those teams worked is because you didn’t have anyone being divisive the way Kobe is being. Kobe can’t play with Shaq. He can’t play with Lamar. He can’t play with anybody except himself. Kobeball must come to an end. Nobody is gonna play with Kobe. The whole league saw what he did to the most dominant center in history. Los Angeles is a wonderful place but the city isn’t big enough for selfish Kobe and another superstar. Until they get rid of Kobe, I don’t care if the Lakers get the roster of the 92 USA Olympic Men’s Basketball team in their prime. Kobe will find a way to sabotage the team if he can’t be the focal point.

  • leo

    dont trade lamar please

  • http://myspace.com/jessethepokergod lakerfan4ever901

    i dunno if this is the right place to put this but…

    From a concerned Laker Fan…

    man o man this is LA and we can’t get things done. just think of how good we could be, but the inefficiency of our GM to commit to making a change for our team, our city, our fans. saddens me, and i know it saddens you…when you look at the Los Angeles lakers, you think instant success…the name Los Angeles alone gives way for so many opportunities…and not to mention a reputation as being known for doing the big things. LA is not a place for kupchack to ruin, he needs to be escorted to any other team but ours…he hasn’t done anything these past years to prove that the lakers are better than we are projected. He got malone and payton here, but once everyone left, he did nothing to correct our mistakes, all he did was add onto the mistakes…bringing in tomjanovich and other players like butler and atkins…and adding on so much to our salary cap just to get shaq out of here…i dunno…odom was the only success that we’ve had out of him since we won our 3 championships, but then again, odom isn’t bringing us the success we need as an organization, he is good, but we need more than him, and unless mitch does something to better that, then we are screwed. we’re losing faith as a city, i remember good ol’ staples center used to be filled with screaming lunatics, now when you go to games, the crowd excitement and energy is way down. the key to success (for the lakers) is to make changes…and right now…those changes seem like desperate wishes from its most loyal fans. getgarnett is a sacrament to not just getting Kevin Garnett, but its a sign that we need to make changes, acquire new players, we need to get someone, at least. We dominated years and years as a basketball team, with players like magic, worthy, kareem, shaq, kobe, west…the list goes on and on…. and now, in this day and age, we are writing off any chance to dominate as we did because our inability to carry on our reputation as the most frightening and sensational team there might be in the whole NBA. And when you look at how good the lakers have always been it makes us seem pathetic now. I mean, i as a laker fan, will never ever cease to love the lakers or cheer for them, but they need to be the Los Angeles Lakers who will win championships, not the Los Angeles Lakers who get the 7th seed each year, and lose to the suns. We must step it up and it all starts this offseason: have a good draft, carry out multiple trades, and bring some flair to LA! The only way we can ever be the LOS ANGELES LAKERS again is if we make a change….and let’s hope that the change is coming…

    On a side note, this is from one loyal laker fan, to the rest of you…me and my buddy talked about this all night, and what I sent to him is what you just read…

    Let’s hope the best for ourselves…cause God only knows how much we need it! :)

  • KB824MVP

    Later Gator, What did kobe do to shaq? Shaq wanted to be traded, Kobe never asked to be traded. The issue here is that Shaq could not stand that Los Angeles was falling in love with Kobe. Shaq saw that there was not enough room for him and Kobe (no pun intended) because lets face it, Kobe is the greatest player on the planet. Or Shaq could have been pissed that it was Kobe who was painted on the Hotel Figueroa holding the 3 championships and everytime he came to the arena he had to see that….haha. Anyways Phil Jackson left because of Shaq and came back because of Kobe. The only reason Phil is coaching today is because of who? You guessed it, Kobe.

  • BVdC

    Kobe is and will be the focal point of the Lakers Team (no matter what), because he is the best player in the league. The only reason why the team has no succes is because the talent of the other players is sub-par. If they traded Shaq for equal talent and impact, the Lakers would have been just fine. The addition of one low-post presence (especially defensively) and some solid role players will make an huge difference. I think that KG would be the best solution ever, he is a team-player, great rebounder and great scorer (does not fumble the ball like kwame).

  • http://myspace.com/luis22691 lr26kb24

    Reli if we dont good another stare on the team that would help kobe out hes ganna be asking for a trade soon

  • http://www.gator21.com Later Gator

    Screw Kobe – trade that fool to Atlanta!

  • later gator hater

    yo later gater.if you dont like KB24, take the highway to portland and rebuild your life there.
    kobe is here to stay.we aint trading him.
    so if you got a problem with him.get outta LA.
    head for the rose garden or charlotte where they play exciting basketball. YEA RITE!!

  • later gator fool

    You’re stupid gator.. kobe is the best player in the NBA right now, and the lakers are a lucky team to have him. Your stupid posts are both ignorant and dissapointing, for one as great as KB24 to be degraded and put down by you. Utterly disgusting.

  • Rpoc

    The hate consumes you.

  • http://nba.com later gator hater too!!!

    As mentioned by everybody, kobe is the best player in the NBA right now. He just needs the right supporting cast to surround him for Los Angeles to win the NBA Championship.

    Conclusion: LATER GATOR is the most STUPID NBA Enthusiast (damn ever!!!) in the world.

  • Later gator sucks deez

    This Gator fool is a hater and not even a Laker fan. Kobe is the only chance the Laker organization has at getting back on top. Management (keyword), just needs to get their heads straight and stop making lame deals and waisting cap space.

  • Die later Gator

    I hate you “later gator.”

  • http://twitter.com/nugge7 The Nugget

    Everyone chill, please. I can have users banned. That is all.

  • http://getgarnett.com pedro

    the lakers need kevin garnett just what he brings to the table is great. from his low post game to his defense even to his heart and will to win. now add that with the talent of kobe bryant and a decent point gaurd and hopefully a better andrew bynum and you have yourself a championship contending team. get Garnett!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kobebobo03

    i am confident that the lakers will do something big this summer…i believe…..i hate latergator or whatever he’s called. only diehard fans on this site and he’s obviously not one. well if the lakers wanted to get better they should go 4 kg at all cost….but not really. if they can’t get him then get jo or pau. then you go for artest and sign mo williams cause he will be good.very good. the lakers need to cut the smushcalade, vujacic, cookie and mckie. they basically just suck. yeah mckie was ok but he’s like a grandpa now. sooo old. keep walton and my boi turiaf i looove him the lakes just need to give him some more playing time and he’ll be awesome. But the main point of this is to cut the suckers and get the guys that play hard and actually play to win. kobe hands down is the best player in the nba and lamar is good but not great and he adds a great trading piece to whatever the lakes management decides to go for.maybe the lakers should go for pau because it seems the most logical salary wise then go for kg write more later

  • DEEZNUTTSFORU

    Lakers will be fine, stop the hate. As soon as you here “Breaking News” on the sport news channels all of us will get all wet…LOL… Go lakers!

  • http://www.kb24.com darkice18

    Later gator get the fuckk outta here….this is a fanbase site…not haters like u …. i hope u get banned

  • Rpoc

    The news comments needs to be cleaned.

  • barorot

    better try to get a filipino player like mark caquioa..he can be kobe…he’s like a michael jordan of the philippines.