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Kevin McHale, Jayson Tatum cited as Boston Celtics ‘traded NBA draft picks that turned into gold’

It is always a gamble to trade a draft pick projected to be a valuable lottery pick with little or no protections on it, and in many cases, such a move can come back to bite the team that did it pretty badly.

Among the 30 teams of today’s NBA, analyst Frank Urbina of HoopsHype fame assembled a list of 13 examples of such a trade taking place with the Celtics occupying two of those slots. The deals in question led to Boston picking up Hall of Fame big man Kevin McHale and All-NBA small forward Jayson Tatum (drafted by McHale’s teammate and former team president Danny Ainge, no less).

Let’s see what Urbina had to say about the two diamonds in the rough.

Kevin McHale (1980)

Andrew D. Bernstein, NBAE/Getty ImagesAndrew D. Bernstein, NBAE/Getty Images

“The Warriors are once again involved with trading away a draft pick that turned into gold, as in 1980, the team dealt away the rights to the No. 3 pick the day before the draft to the Boston Celtics, a pick that wound up becoming Hall-of-Fame big man Kevin McHale,” writes Urbina.

“This is considered one of the biggest fleecings in a trade in NBA history, as not only did the Warriors give up the No. 3 pick, they also sent center Robert Parish, who went on to make the next seven All-Star teams in the East and nine in the next 11 seasons.”

“McHale and Parish would end up forming one of the greatest frontcourts in league history, playing behind Larry Bird on the wing to create an all-time dynasty in Boston during the 1980s,” adds the H/H analyst.

“Meanwhile, the Warriors used the No. 1 pick in the 1980 draft that they received as part of the deal on Joe Barry Carroll, a 7-footer out of Purdue who was considered a can’t-miss, future-superstar level prospect. Carroll would play 10 seasons in the NBA and make one All-Star appearance as a member of the Warriors. Not a terrible career by any means, but certainly not a super memorable one, or one worthy of a package of McHale and Parish, two Hall-of-Famers.”

“Golden State also got the 13th pick in the 1980 draft as part of the trade and took Rickey Brown, who lasted five seasons in the NBA and averaged 4.4 points over 340 career games,” writes Urbina.

“Of all of the trades the Warriors have made on this list, they probably would like to take this one back the most. Because yikes.”

Jayson Tatum (2017)

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

“Two trades, one that took place years before the 2017 draft, saw Jayson Tatum eventually go No. 3 overall to the Celtics,” notes the H/H author. “Originally, the pick was slated to belong to the Sacramento Kings.”

“However, during the 2015 offseason, in a move that can only be described as asinine (or insane), Sacramento agreed to trade Nik Stauskas (coming off of an uninspiring rookie season that saw him average 4.4 points) and veterans Carl Landry and Jason Thompson, along with a 2019 first-round pick and first-round pick swaps in 2016 and 2017 to the Philadelphia 76ers.”

“What did the Kings receive in exchange for all of that juicy draft capital?” asks Urbina rhetorically.

“The draft rights to Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic,” he replies. “Neither player has played a minute of NBA basketball yet. And why did they do that?”

“To make a splash in free agency that year by ridding themselves of the hefty salaries of Landry and Thompson. And by hefty, we mean the former was owed $6.5 million and the latter $6.4 million the next season. Landry did have one more year on his deal after that (worth another $6.5 million) but Thompson’s deal was non-guaranteed after that one campaign.”

“The Kings did wind up landing one of their top free-agent targets that year in Rajon Rondo, who played one season with the club and performed admirably, averaging 11.9 points and a league-leading 11.7 assists,” adds Urbina.

“But the team still went 33-49 and missed the playoffs,” related the H/H analyst. “So basically, Sacramento traded three extremely valuable draft assets for a year of Rondo, who it lost a year later to the Bulls anyway after refusing to pay him what Chicago was offering.”

“It’s not hard to see why Vlade Divac is no longer calling the shots over there. Regardless, the draft pick that became Tatum would be traded again, this time to the Celtics by the Sixers. That deal was a blockbuster by the two rivals, one that was supposed to help Philadelphia land the final piece of The Process and turn the franchise into contenders.”

And we know what happened next for Philadelphia, Boston getting not only Tatum in the process instead of Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball — and Romeo Langford in the process.

Not a bad haul, if you ask us.

Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3zBKQY6

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3GfUPFi

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