Interesting article. I've long thought that this trade is seriously underrated as one of the worst trades ever -- not so much because of what Portland got in return, but in terms of how useful it would have been to have kept Moses around. The dominant theme in the history of the Blazers franchise over the next several years was the quest to obtain a center to replace Walton. As the article alludes to, things could have been very different if Moses had been able to step in for Walton after the latter got hurt, or perhaps platooned with him to keep him healthier in the first place.
Of course, this is all easy to say in hindsight. As Mike noted, it just didn't seem like they really needed Moses at the time, and they apparently felt they couldn't afford to take on his contract (which carried over from the ABA via the dispersal draft). And one knew how good he would turn out to be in the NBA.
Mike Goodman wrote:That's a nice site, Gabe. Hadn't known of it.
That site is run by APBR member Frank Marousek.
Looking through Portland's transactions in the 1976 preseason, it appears that the trade (which happened a few days before the regular season started, although Portland didn't actually play their first game until the third day into the season) left them with only 11 men. So it doesn't seem like Portland was carrying an extra man, knowing that they were going to trade Moses anyway; there would have been room for him on their roster had they chosen not to trade him. To fill the spot opened by the trade, the Blazers signed Corky Calhoun, who had been cut by the Lakers a few days earlier.
Mike Goodman wrote:Notice, the draft was a year and a half later. The Braves were dismantling their McAdoo-centered team, and were almost certainly going to have a high pick.
I was thinking the opposite. At the time the trade happened, was it already known that the Braves were going to dismantle their team? The previous season, the Braves had been tied for the 5th best record in the league, and their pick was #13 (due to trades, they ended up picking in someone else's slot). Unless it was already recognized that the Braves were falling apart, if I were Portland I would have expected a mid-round pick.
Incidentally, Portland took that #3 pick in 1978 and packaged it with Johnny Davis to trade up to #1 to draft Mychal Thompson (this trade happened right before the draft, when the final positions of the picks involved had already been determined). Why did they do that? Because they desperately needed a center. Rather than looking at this as Malone-for-Robey, it might be more accurate to say that Portland effectively traded Malone and Davis for Thompson. If they had held onto Moses in the first place, none of this would have been necessary.
Mike Goodman wrote:In the ABA, rookie Moses had started alongside Jim Eakins (C) and Gerald Govan (F-C); Randy Denton (C) got major minutes, too. This Utah team went 38-46.
And in '76 he split time (StL) with Marvin Barnes (F-C), Caldwell Jones (C-F), Maurice Lucas (F-C), and Denton again. Another non-contender.
At the time, there has to have been some question around how good Moses really was. He had put up big numbers as a rookie, but was injured for much of his second season, and had spent his entire ABA career playing for mediocre teams. He had turned pro right out of high school, and the two high school players who had signed with the senior circuit for the 1975-76 season hadn't made a big impact in the NBA. NBA teams had to be wondering if Moses would turn out to be another John Brisker or Jim McDaniels.
On the other hand, within a week of Moses being traded to Buffalo, the Braves turned around and traded him to Houston for *two* first round picks (in typical Braves fashion, they did not hold on to eiither pick, but they ended up as #18 in '77 and #4 in '78 ). How did his value double in just a matter of days? Why wasn't Portland able to get two first-rounders for him the previous week? Kind of a sped-up reverse version of the Jiri Welsch situation mentioned in one of the articles that Ray recently posted (Boston traded Welsch to Cleveland during the 2004-05 season for a 1st round pick, then at the end of the season, about four months later, the Cavs sent Welsch to Milwaukee for a 2nd round pick).