Yesterday on Twitter, I got into a conversation with some bloggers for the Washington Wizards. (TruthAboutIt and BulletsForever) As anyone who has ever surfed YouTube knows, one thing leads to another and you eventually end up in a completely foreign place from where you started. Somehow talking about the Cavs eventually led to talking about how the Cavs inadvertently ruined the Bullets by trading an old, injury-prone Mark Price to them. I say that in jest of course, because someone in the Bullets obviously decided it was a good enough deal to pull the trigger.
The Bullets traded their number 1 draft pick in the 1996 draft, which should ring a big bell for Cavs fans. In 1996 the Cavs had their own pick at number 20 and then gained the Bullets pick at number 12. At number 20 the Cavaliers selected Big Zydrunas Ilgauskas. That means with the 12th pick the Cavaliers selected none other than Vitaly Patapenko. So that is the answer. The Cavs traded Mark Price for Vitaly Patapenko. But that obviously doesn’t tell the whole story. The interesting question is which players the Cavs could have had with the 12th pick as we all know Patapenko didn’t work out that well until he was later traded to the Celtics for Andrew Declercq and a 1999 first round draft pick which became Andre Miller.
Had the Cavs not taken Patapenko they could have had anyone from this list of players who were picked between him and Ilgauskas at #20. After Vitaly, #13 was Kobe Bryant, #14 was Peja Stojakovich, and #15 was Steve Nash. If that list isn’t jaw-dropping enough then add in Jermaine O’Neal who was drafted out of high school at #17.
Then again, had the Cavs drafted any one of those players, they might not have had the “opportunity” to trade for Darius Miles and pull of John Lucas’ alleged tank job with Ricky Davis to be in a position to draft LeBron. It is just funny how the history of teams develop. Now we get to look back on our history, including the trade of once franchise cornerstone Mark Price as all ultimately leading to the arrival of LeBron it almost seems like a fond memory. For the Bullets / Wizards fans who dealt with Mark Price’s injuries and are now in the seventh level of basketball hell with Gilbert Arenas’ problems, the history has a much different hue.