6/24/1998 - Mavs get Nash and Nowitzki
The Dallas Mavericks pull off one of the greatest draft day trades of all time, acquiring not one but two franchise players in one fell swoop. In what was essentially a three-team trade involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks received Dirk Nowitzki (the ninth pick in the draft) from the Milwaukee Bucks for Robert "Tractor" Traylor (the sixth pick in the draft) and Pat Garrity; the Mavs then traded Garrity, two throw-in players, and a future first round draft pick to the Suns for Steve Nash.
The move, orchestrated by Dallas head coach Don Nelson, was a brilliant one. Steve Nash went from being an above-average backup to becoming the best point guard in the NBA. Nowitzki became the most versatile seven-footer the league had ever seen and was the first European-born player to win the MVP. With the help of those two, the Mavericks went from one of the most inept franchises in the league to a perennial powerhouse in the Western Conference.
Steve Nash would later return to Phoenix as a free agent, where he won two MVP awards and turned the franchise around. The Bucks, on the other hand, did not get a consolation prize. Tractor Traylor played only seven seasons in the NBA and had a career average of 4.8 points per game -- miles away from Dirk Nowitzki, who averaged 26.6 per game in 2006.
Bucks fans would rue the trade for years to come. Had they not traded away Nowitzki and instead teamed him with their big three of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Glenn Robinson -- a team that would go to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001 -- the Bucks would have been a championship-caliber team. Instead they watched in agony as the Mavericks advanced to the NBA Finals in 2006, while their team struggled just to stay relevant.