The Greatest Trade the Portland Trail Blazers Ever Made

This is the second in a series of league-wide post from the SBN-NBA group. This week's topic: the best trade each franchise ever made. You can find a list of SBN-NBA sites in the left sidebar under the heading "Basketball". Check around the network for other teams' stories!

The greatest trade ever for the Blazers, as voted by Blazersedge readers in the comment section of an earlier post, happened on August 5th, 1976. The guys in red and black traded away their original franchise hero, guard Geoff Petrie. Petrie shared Rookie of the Year honors with Boston's Dave Cowens in Portland's inaugural '70-'71 season. He scored 25 per game that year and would near that plateau in 3 of his 6 seasons as a Blazer. There was no NBA three-point shot back in those days or you could have added another 3-4 ppg to that total. Petrie could shoot. Legend has it that a Blazer official once went to snag rebounds for Petrie in practice but found his hands empty, as Petrie could make the shot in such a way that the ball bounced back into his hands after leaving the net every time. Though he was still averaging 19 per game when the end of the '75-'76 season rolled around injuries were taking a toll. The Blazers knew enough to sell high and they shipped Petrie plus F-C Steve (not Spencer) Hawes to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights to the second pick in that year's dispersal draft for the now-defunct American Basketball Association.

Hawes went on to play 6.5 solid, unspectacular seasons for the Hawks. Petrie never played a game for them, retiring that same summer.

The second pick in the dispersal draft turned out to be 6'9 power forward Maurice Lucas. Averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds in the very next season, Lucas drove the Blazers to the World Championship alongside famed center Bill Walton. He choked a replacement referee with the ref's own whistle in the first round of the playoffs that year. His fisticuffs with Philadelphia's Darryl Dawkins in the NBA Finals turned the series around and have since become legend.

Lucas would total 4.5 years with the Blazers en route to becoming one of the most beloved and revered figures in franchise history, easily eclipsing Petrie in affection, if not in pure stats. You don't need advance math to balance out this equation though. No Luke = No Title for Portland. That makes this the smartest trade the Blazers ever made.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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