The Dallas Mavericks have had their fair share of quality player combinations over the years. Trios such as Blackman/Aguirre/Harper (‘83-’89), the short-lived threesome of Mashburn/Jackson/Kidd (‘94-’97), and Nowitzki/Howard/Terry (‘04-’10) have come and gone, but few are as memorable as the team of Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley. The deadly combination of one of the best passing and shooting point guards of all time, one of the best all-around shooters of all time, and one of the most explosive players in the NBA proved to be nightmarish for opposing defenses.
The formation of this trio began in 1996, when the Mavericks traded future superstar Jason Kidd, Loren Meyer and Tony Dumas to the Phoenix Suns for Michael Finley, Sam Cassell, and 10-year veteran A. C. Green. Although they lost the recent Co-Rookie of the Year and future 10x all-star Jason Kidd, the Mavericks acquired a valuable player in Michael Finley. Finley led the Mavericks in scoring, assists, and steals in his debut season in Dallas, posting averages of 16.02 PPG, 2.79 APG, and .89 SPG. Leading the league in minutes per game in the 1997-1998 season (41.4), Finley continued to be the premier player on a rather mediocre team until 1998 when one of — if not the most lopsided trade(s) in NBA history went down.
In the 1998 NBA draft, the Mavericks traded the rights of Robert “Tractor” Traylor to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the draft rights to Dirk Nowitzki (future 12x all-star, MVP, Finals MVP) and the draft rights to Pat Garrity. Garrity’s draft rights, along with Martin Müürsepp, Bubba Wells, and an unprotected first-round pick in the next year’s draft were sent to Phoenix in exchange for Steve Nash (future 8x all-star and 2x MVP).
Poor Bucks. They didn’t realize that they basically handed Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash to Dallas in exchange for some guy named Robert Traylor, a player whose highest PPG average in his 7-season career was 5.7. Oh yeah, and here’s a fun fact: remember that unprotected first-round pick that Dallas sent to Phoenix? That pick turned into some guy named Shawn Marion.