For the last time, the Bucks NEVER had Nowitzki



Everyone always ridicules the Milwaukee Bucks for trading PF Dirk Nowitzki to the Dallas Mavericks for the recently departed PF Robert Traylor.  Yet no one EVER ridicules the New England Patriots for trading LB Clay Matthews to the Green Bay Packers for the little used DB Darius Butler and the extremely little used WR Brandon Tate.  Yet each of the two transactions was effectively identical!!

In the 2009 draft, the Green Bay Packers traded their 41st and 83rd picks to the New England Patriots in exchange for the Patriots 26th pick. With the 26th pick, Green Bay selected monster linebacker Clay Matthews, and with their picks New England selected the aforementioned stiffs.

The NBA prohibits such draft day transactions. So instead, when one team wants to move up in the NBA draft and another team is willing to accept the first team’s extra picks to allow such a move, the two teams must make “proxy” selections for one another. Meaning, the selection is effectively made by the other organization, but in the original organization’s name. Thus, the actual selection may LOOK as though it was made by the team under whose name it was made, but in reality, it never was.

This is what happened in the infamous Tractor Traylor/Dirk Nowitzki transaction. Dallas had the 6th pick, Milwaukee had the 9th pick plus something like the 17th pick. Dallas GM Don Nelson wanted Dirk Nowitzki, but not many other organizations were hot for him. Nelson therefore concluded that he had the option to select Nowitzki 6th, or “trade down” and select both Nowitzki and another player. 

So Nelson rang the Bucks up and asked if they would be willing to exchange their two selections for Dallas’ 6th selection. The Bucks, fearing their target– Robert Traylor– would be gone by selection number 9, readily agreed.

Once an agreement was forged, the 6th selection effectively belonged to the Bucks and the 9th and 17th selections effectively belonged to Dallas. At no point did the de jure selecting team possess contractual rights to the selections made in those spots. At no point could the Bucks have reconsidered their deal and instead signed Nowitzki to a contract. It could not have happened. Thus, the Milwaukee Bucks never possessed any rights to Dirk Nowitzki. (To underscore this point, had Nowitzki gone with the 7th or 8th selection, Nelson could not have reneged on the deal. He would have had to direct the Bucks to select a different player.) 

So even though it appears on historical records as though the Bucks selected and then traded Dirk Nowitzki, I say this for the (hopefully) final time:

IT NEVER HAPPENED!!!!!!!!!!!!!


2 Responses to “For the last time, the Bucks NEVER had Nowitzki”

  1. Chicago Tim Says:

    Of course, they did pass on Dirk Nowitzki in favor of Robert Traylor. But then, if we delve into draft picks there are many teams who have passed on future superstars in favor of draft busts.

    • tywill33 Says:

      Be careful, CT.

      The Mavericks owned the 6th pick, the Bucks did not select until the 9th pick. Had the Bucks refused Nelson’s offer, Nelson is on record stating he would have chosen Nowitzki at number 6. So the Bucks would never have had a chance to draft him under any scenario.

      That is only relief by technicality, however. Larry Harris has repeatedly said that Nowitzki wasn’t even on the Bucks radar screen. They wanted Traylor. So, even if the Bucks would have had a chance to draft Nowitzki, they would have passed.

      So the essence of your criticism is correct.

      I always wondered whether Harris was haunted by the Bucks failure to spot Nowitzki. Several seasons later, when posed with exactly the same type of foreign prospect with limited information (Yi Jianlian), Harris dove in head first. It probably cost him his job.

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