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Trading Places
Jack McCallum
November 09, 1992
Want to trade a Person for a Pooh? Too late. That deal-along with many others-was consummated during one of the NBA's busiest off-seasons ever
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November 09, 1992

Trading Places

Want to trade a Person for a Pooh? Too late. That deal-along with many others-was consummated during one of the NBA's busiest off-seasons ever

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The Barkley deal (page 66) is a winner for Phoenix. The Sixers sent him to the Suns in exchange for guard Hornacek, center Andrew Lang and forward Tim Perry. Barkley, who will have a much stronger supporting cast in Phoenix than he did in Philly, can now show that he's a banner-carrier as well as a headline-maker. Generally, quantity doesn't beat quality in an NBA trade. To wit: The Los Angeles Lakers clearly got the best of the 1975 blockbuster that took Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from Milwaukee to L.A. in return for Junior Bridgeman, David Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters. This is not to suggest that the Barkley deal will have that kind of long-term impact on the league's balance of power—Sir Charles is, after all, pushing 30—but Barkley will take the Suns to the 1993 Finals. Write it down.

That doesn't necessarily mean that trading Barkley was a mistake for the Sixers, though Lord knows, their owner Harold Katz has made enough of them over the years. Barkley had to get out of Philadelphia for the sake of everyone, especially the teammates he had verbally busted. Last season Katz tried to make what would have been a better deal (Barkley to the Clippers for Bo Kimble, Ken Norman, Charles Smith and a draft pick), but Los Angeles coach Larry Brown nixed it. So Katz rolled the dice with Phoenix. However, Philly's new additions have not gotten off to auspicious starts. Perry has so far played below par; Lang missed most of the preseason with a stress fracture of his left fibula; and Hornacek, the prize of the package for the Sixers, has had trouble (so has everyone else) adapting to the Moetion offense.

In a trade it's easy to overrate the potential impact of a player. The Knicks, for example, have gotten high praise for landing the Clippers' Smith, along with Rivers and Kimble, in exchange for point guard Mark Jackson and a No. 1 draft choice in a three-way deal that also involved the Orlando Magic. Spur coach Jerry Tarkanian was flabbergasted by that trade. "How do you get a potential All-Star [Smith] for a first-round draft pick?" he asked, incredulously. "I thought Charles Smith would be worth three first-round picks. That's absolutely amazing."

Typical rookie mistake, Tark—don't overrate a player's potential. Smith might become an All-Star, and then again he might not. Still, you have to give the Clippers credit for trying, although they may have gotten the second coming of Benoit Benjamin in the 300-pound Roberts, Orlando's contribution to the deal. And Jackson, who also landed in L.A., hasn't recently shown that he can be consistent over a full season.

The Magic comes up a winner in the deal. It lost next to nothing, because Roberts would not have been content to play the role of caddie to No. 1 draft pick Shaquille O'Neal over the next decade. And what Orlando gained—a 1993 or '94 first-rounder from the Clippers and a '93 first-rounder from the Knicks—will yield exactly what it needs: young talent.

The Knicks may have done even better with their other important acquisition, Blackman, whom they got in a trade with Dallas for a future first-rounder. Though Riley underplays the notion, Blackman, 33, is just the kind of player—talented, though near the end of his career—a team obtains when it thinks it is about to win a championship. However, you may have noticed that Blackman missed the entire preseason with back spasms. By unloading Blackman, the Mavericks made room for their highly touted rookie, Jim Jackson, the fourth pick in the draft. One thing's for sure: Jackson has a good shooting-guard model to follow in Dallas, a guy by the name of Blackman.

Another veteran shooting guard made Utah a winner in the trading derby. On many teams Humphries's status as a 'tweener (not quite a point guard, not quite a shooting guard) would present a dilemma, but he (its perfectly with the Jazz because he can spell cither John Stockton or Jeff Malone in the backcourt. There's nothing special about the K, power forward Larry Krystkowiak, who went to Salt Lake City from Milwaukee along with Humphries, but he is a feisty player who might take some of the enforcing pressure off technical-foul specialist (19 last year) Karl Malone.

In proven swingman Blue Edwards and second-year guard Eric Murdock, the Bucks got from the Jazz, respectively, a proven starter and a potential starter.

The Pacers went for addition by subtraction when they unloaded Person, along with respected point guard Micheal Williams, on the Timberwolves for guard Pooh Richardson and forward Sam Mitchell. Indiana wanted to see how it would get along without all the baggage that Person brings to the arena along with his jumper. As for the T-wolves, hey, why not? Pooh had been whiney (not Winnie) in Minnesota, and Person will put more points on the board for the fifth-lowest-scoring team in the NBA last season.

The Celtics need a lot of everything to replace Bird—a scorer, a rebounder, an assist-maker, a defender and a trash-talker. Landing McDaniel, a low-post scorer and a tough guy who might respond to Celtic tradition, was a good move. The Knicks, who didn't want the X-Man to exit, felt they were betrayed by McDaniel's agent, David Falk (page 88). However, New York scrambled and got Tony Campbell from Minnesota at the lire-sale price of a second-round draft pick.

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