The most underrated bad trade of all time: When the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies traded their 2003 first-round pick (top 1 protected) for Otis Thorpe.
This pitiful trade occurred in 1997, and the front office probably wasn’t thinking 6 years into the future. This was really unfortunate since it was pretty much a given that the Grizzlies would be bad in 2003 and the ’03 draft class turned out to be particularly stacked.
Two days earlier, Thorpe had turned 35, which is when most players either hang it up or get benched. Unless you’re LeBron. Thorpe, at one point, had been an all-star, way back in ’92. But his career started to decline almost immediately.
He never again averaged more than 12 points per game since then, and only had one more double-digit rebounding season after having 4 in the previous 6 years.
Thorpe averaged 11 points and 8 rebounds per game with the Grizzlies and was finally traded from the Grizzlies to the Kings, who Thorpe started his career with. The full deal was Thorpe and Chris Robinson for Bobby Hurley and Michael Smith. Those latter two didn’t even average 10 points per game combined over their careers.
Also, no one involved in the trade have pictures on Basketball Reference except Otis Thorpe.
Essentially, the Grizzlies traded a 2003 first-round pick (top 1 protected) and Chris Robinson for Bobby Hurley and Michael Smith. Talk about an atrocity.
But wasn’t Darko Miličić the 2nd pick in the 2003 draft, not Dwyane Wade? You are probably thinking just that, but there’s a reason the title says Dwyane Wade and not Darko.
In 2003, Jerry West was the general manager of the Grizzlies. And Chad Ford, who was an ESPN Insider at the time, makes this interesting observation. He said in a recent podcast with Bill Simmons, “If Jerry West had gotten the number two pick in the draft it would’ve been Dwyane Wade. He did not like Darko, he did not like Carmelo. Dwyane Wade was his guy.”
So in summary, the Grizzlies traded future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade to get an old Otis Thorpe.
There are certainly worse trades that have been completed in the NBA’s 74 years, but this is one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention.
Image: Steve Mitchell/USA Today