The Recent History of Superstar Trades

Unless you've been living under a rock the past few weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers have added the #1 overall pick in Andrew Wiggins and the #1 overall player in the league LeBron James to the roster. This opens up an exciting number of possibilities, and several of them involve trading for disgruntled Second Team All-NBA power forward Kevin Love. The Cavs and Love have both shown a mutual interest in one another, especially since the return of LeBron. But what exactly should the Cavs offer to acquire the services of the star? Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your rooting interests), the past five years have seen a number of trades involving superstars. From Carmelo Anthony to Dwight Howard, we've seen several instances of teams trading a package of lesser talents for a single player of Olympic team quality. Therefore, we should be able to put together a rough estimate of the assets needed to pull off a successful real-life reunion of Uncle Drew and his old buddy Wes.

Trade #1- Carmelo Anthony to New York

In 2011 Carmelo was determined to force his way out of Denver, while hoping to land in a big market like New York. He received his wish, but Denver still managed to get a good set of acceptable prospects in return. In sending out Carmelo, an aging Chauncey Billups, and trade filler, Denver received:

This is a decent trade for the Nuggets. Sure the quartet of players haven't combined to make a single All-Star Game, but they are all solid contributors that range from good bench player to solid starter. Even if you consider one of those players or the pick as compensation for Billups, the trade isn't all that bad.

Some things to note: Carmelo was on the last year of his contract but Denver was also in the middle of a playoff chase. Melo could have left at the end of the year, but the Nuggets had a small chance at swaying his opinion with a deep playoff run being a strong possibility.

Trade #2- Deron Williams to New Jersey/Brooklyn

This trade got notorious coach killer Deron Williams to his dream destination of Brooklyn. For Williams the Nets gave up:

This one looks like an absolute steal, mostly because of Williams' disappointing performance and the franchise's terrible records, which combined to give Utah much better picks than originally expected. Favors is a very promising player, Harris is an underrated backup, and the #3 pick was a nice surprise when it was expected to be significantly worse. Any team trading away an angry franchise player can't ask for a better outcome than this.

Also note: Williams became a free agent a year and a half later. At the time of the trade, Utah was in upheaval after a disappointing record, behind-the-scenes clashes, and firing longtime coach Jerry Sloan. Utah turned a cancer into promise, but not wins yet.

Trade #3- Chris Paul to LAC

The Chris Paul trade was an interesting fiasco as New Orleans was in the midst of ownership by the league. David Stern vetoed a potential trade to the Lakers and ultimately agreed to a Clippers trade. By shipping out Paul, New Orleans received:

At the time, this was considered by most a relatively acceptable return for Paul. However, every single one of these players has failed to live up to their considerable hype. Gordon, once highly coveted, has been plagued by injuries. Aminu has been a bad player from the 8th overall selection. Chris Kaman is Chris Kaman and Austin Rivers is Austin Rivers. If you look at all the good luck the Jazz received in having their prospects pan out, the Pelicans got the opposite side of the coin. Instead of getting the fortune of 3 good role players and a potential All-Star, the Pels were stuck with three busts and an overpaid volume shooter. Same quality prospects, totally different outcomes.

Also: The Pelicans weren't particularly good with Paul, who had one guaranteed year and one player option year left on his contract.

Trade #4- Dwight Howard to the Lakers

The Dwightmare was a total mess. His PR representative should never work another day in their field again. Despite the issues he caused, Orlando was able to move Howard for a good set of players in a four team trade with LA, Philly, and Denver. Basically, Orlando got:

  • Arron Afflalo
  • Al Harrington
  • Josh McRoberts
  • 2017 Lakers 1st round pick
  • Maurice Harkless
  • NIkola Vucevic
  • Sixers future 1st round pick
  • 2014 1st round pick (#12 selection Dario Saric- yes that pick was involved in two blockbuster trades; Dario is the NBA's Kevin Bacon)

In addition to Howard, Orlando gave up Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark.

This was a good trade for Orlando, too. While they had to sacrifice another deep playoff push and give up arguably a top 5 player and the 6th most valuable asset via Bill Simmons, they still got a bunch of solid contributors in return. On the flip side, while Vucevic could be very good, the rest are only role players.

So Where Does That Leave Cleveland?

With apologies to Timberwolves fans, it's clear to see that Andrew Wiggins is off the table. None of the other elite players returned anything close to Wiggins' potential. As Chad Ford mentioned in an article last month, Wiggins is one of the ten best prospects this millennium. Most teams were lucky to receive a top ten pick and some average starters. Based off recent history, Wiggins for Love straight up is a non-starter, much less Wiggins+extra prospects to balance out the salaries.

This leaves an offer centering around several of Waiters, Bennett, Thompson, and picks as the most likely option. If I were David Griffin I would propose Dion, Bennett, the Miami pick, and a future 1st round Cavs pick. It's very similar to the offer accepted by New Orleans (and possibly better, depending on your Dion/Anthony opinions). I'd be ok with giving up more depending on the competitiveness of offers from Golden State and other suitors, but I feel this is a good watermark for assessing any reported proposals.

Tl;dr version: Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, Miami pick, future 1st Cavs pick looks like a fair trade based on the history of transactions involving superstars

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at FearTheSword

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