Monday, December 21st, 2009 at 8:00 am  |  31 responses

Decade’s Best: Trade

An act of thievery?

by Adam Fleischer

When breaking down the decade’s best trade, I almost shied away from this one. Was it even a trade? I mean, when it happened, the preferred moniker was “steal.” It seemed that one franchise had made a mockery of the other.

But that’ll tend to happen when you get an all-star and potential All-NBA performer without giving up anything that even resembles an important piece for your franchise moving forward. And that’s what happened on February 1, 2008.

When the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol weeks before the trade deadline, it was a move that showed they were serious about winning going forward. The previous season had ended in first round playoff defeat on the heels of the second worst Lakers regular season finish since Kobe Bryant was drafted in 1996. The Kwame Brown experiment had failed. If Los Angeles was going to win another championship with this core (read: Kobe), they would need to pair him with a talented big man, it seemed. So Mitch Kupchak went out and did just that.

The exchange looked pretty lopsided on paper: The Lakers picked up Gasol and a 2010 second rounder from Memphis for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol, and first round picks in 2008 and 2010. Pau was already established as one of the League’s better big men and at just 27 years old was a rare asset. Brown was a bust, Crittenton was young and unproven, McKie was simply a cap piece and didn’t play for either team all season, Marc Gasol was an unknown, and the draft picks were sure to be late first rounders.

Approaching two years since the deal, we now have a bit more perspective on the trade than the initial knee jerk reactions. Still, not all that much about the assessment has changed.

From the get go, Pau and Kobe played extremely well with one another, something that has continued to this day. The Lakers went 22-5 with their new big man in the starting line up to end 2008. They advanced all the way to the Finals that year before falling to the Celtics. Los Angeles has not yet lost three games in a row since acquiring Gasol and they’ve been one of the two or three favorites for the title in each of the last three years, with one already under their belt and a determined focus on a second this June. And Gasol and the Lakers just agreed in principle to a contract extension that will keep him in purple and gold through the 2013-14 season, hoping the recent success continues into the next decade.

On the other side of things, the 2008 first round pick turned into Darrell Arthur, while Brown, Crittenton and McKie turned into a Piston, Wizard, and coach, respectively. The one bright spot has been Pau’s brother, Marc. This year, he has averaged a shade more than 14 points and just under ten rebounds per game. All signs point to his game continuing to evolve and him establishing himself as a serviceable big, at worst, for years to come.

Depending on the trajectory of Marc Gasol’s career and the damage that the Lakers do in the next three to five years, we may look back on this trade differently. For now, though, there was not one better this decade.


For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.

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  • kwame brown


  • Alphonso Ford

    Great trade, what would make it even more sweeter is if Marc signs with the Lakers in free agency to play with his brother.

  • MikeC.

    I’m sure Laker fans view this as being the best trade of the decade, but what about the trade that ended up helping both teams the most? Hands down, this is the best one-sided trade of the decade.

  • tom

    disappointing – since this is the most lopsided trade it shouldn´t be the BEST trade!?
    I´d say for example what Boston did to gain the big three gave their former teams something in exchange to build on. Or at least it didn´t leave them with nothing.
    why is the gasol trade the best trade ??? it´s the best/biggest one-sided trade, of course.
    is that the common sense how to determine great trades….welcome economists….

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    It depends on how you define “best trade.” I didn’t do it in the piece, and maybe I should have. It’s better to give up not much and get a lot than to give up a lot and get a lot. Is Shaq for Caron Butler and Odom a better trade because there were better players involved on both sides? Not to me for the purposes of this article. Not only did both teams give up key pieces, but only one was successful directly because of it. Isn’t not giving up a key piece and having direct success better?

  • max

    The Billups for Iverson was another great trade!Detroit could start the rebiulding process and Denver reached the WCF 09.

  • max

    The Billups for Iverson swap was another great trade!Detroit could start the rebiulding process and Denver reached the WCF 09.

  • JAMS

  • Zach

    Everyone is caught up on the Lakers. I’m sick of it.
    We talking trades though. What about all the stuff that when down that brought all them players to Boston. They won a chip that year. You didn’t see that happen with Gasol did ya? NO.

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    I’m a Celtics fan, so if you’re looking for bias look again. The Celtics gave up Al Jefferson, very legitimate building block, as well as Gomes who is solid and a couple other assets. It took them twelve months from the trade to win a championship. It took the Lakers 16.

  • Hoodsnake

    Yeah i would go with the KG trade but lets see whos the last team standing in June

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    I like Gregg Popovich can’t believe this trade went through. My Fantasy League commish would have shut this down.

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Lol. Yea, didn’t the Memphis GM say he was a Lakers fan? Redonculous.

  • tavoris

    does Pau to the Lakers even qualify as a “trade”? It always seemed like a “donation” to me…

  • giogolo

    A good trade should have been defined first and foremost.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    jerry west was one year removed from being grizz gm, chris wallace was his puppet. stern let this trade go through so lakers could win again. anyone else remember when bulls offered some combo of gordon, deng, nocioni, thomas? and grizz turned it down and said they wanted a better offer? they really wanted javaris/kwame. such bs!!!! forget don a gie. this is the best example of league bias towards certain teams, la.

  • http://www.teflinprague.com SAB

    just imagine if LeBron has as good a sidekick as Pau… he would be unstoppable…

  • http://www.teflinprague.com SAB

    i agree with others tho, i’d have liked to see more discussion of other trades, and mutually beneficial ones at that. and big up Marc Gasol too – i laughed at him in the Euro Champs but his confidence seems to have skyrocketed since then, he seems a different player.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    what happened to my post? hmm, black helicopters. ill say it again. jerry west, one year removed, had chris wallace make this trade happen. stern allowed it because he wants the lakers to win again, it worked. bulls offered gordon, deng, nocioni for pau, but grizz said no, they were looking for a better offer. they really wanted kwame. trade was complete bs. forget don a gie, this was biggest example of league bias towards certain teams, lakers

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    and my previous post re appeared, ok then

  • Its magic

    Lakers took away the best player and in return gave up very suspect ballers. Lakers took this hands down. Without that trade we have no championship, and extend our winless cylce closer to that of the Celtics. Look at them, it took over 20 years for them to bring back some glory.

  • http://www.cracked.com litetitan

    What about the KEVIN GARNETT trade? That was a case of putting all your eggs in one basket. That was a completely uphill approach, risking an entire (yet feeble) roster on the one player who desired more than all else to win a chip that year. Here was a player whilst being ‘all NBA’ hadn’t tasted anything like championship form, yet he got it. Straight up in the first year. THAT was the TRADE if the decade for the Celtics, if not the NBA.

  • laker-bob

    It was the Bulls that declined to trade, refusing to give up too much of its core for a player considered “soft”. Now because Gasol’s doing so well with the Lakers, there’s tons of revisionist history and angry people. Too bad.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty


  • http://www.yahoo.com Logues

    its gotta be kg trade, cs gonna win again this yr

  • Jon

    absolute nonsense. this trade should have been banned. people whine about garnett being a steal but losing big al was painful and he is a def all-star. argh as a nuggets fan, last year was our year and we had to have the grizzlies screw it up for us.

  • Shem

    I think best trade would mean a team giving up a little to get a lot. At the time, it didn’t look as lobsided but now it’s a great trade. As for Kevin Garnett.. the Celtics traded 5 players, 2 draft picks and cash. That’s a lot and considering Al Jefferson was one of the players (who is averaging better numbers then Garnett this year) it’s a good trade but not the best. Although, Al is on a bad team so it might not mean much but I’m sure he would have been great on the Celts.

  • albie1kenobi

    It was basically like trading an iPod for a broken cassette player. Grizz should be kicked out the league simply for this.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    well, “laker-bob”(ha), bulls were willing to part with nocioni, thomas, deng or gordon. grizz wanted all of them. bulls were not willing to part with all of them, so grizz said no to the slightly reduced offer and said they were wanting a better offer. i gotta think even if it had been just nocioni and thomas, it would have been an extremely more fair deal than kwame/javaris. marc has been nice, but who the hell else do they have? hamed? hasheem?

  • tavoris

    @Logues, the reason the Pau fleecing is the best “trade” is not only because of their championship, but also how the Lakers are now set up to win EVERY YEAR until Kobe retires.

  • SoCalHoopsFan

    How about when former Celtic – Kevin McHale, GM of the T’Wolves – helped buddy and present Celtic GM Danny Ainge by spurning a better Odom/Bynum/Kwame’s expiring contract/2 1st rd draft choices from the Lakers in order to help Boston retool w/KG…