12. Sam Cassell
The Mavericks missed the playoffs for a decade straight from 1991 to 2000. There was a glimmer of hope during that stretch after they drafted Jason Kidd second overall in 1994. He teamed with Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn to form the “Three J’s”. The young trio had everyone excited, but it did not even last two full seasons before all three players were traded.
Dallas sent Jason Kidd to Phoenix in Dec. of 1996 in a six-player deal that netted the Mavericks Michael Finley, A.C. Green, and Cassell. The 6’3 guard was a former first-round draft pick that was hungry for playing time. Cassell lasted just 16 games with the Mavericks before being traded for the third time in six months.
This time it was Jim Jackson from the “Three J’s” that exited Dallas in a nine-player deal that brought Shawn Bradley and Robert Pack to the Mavs. Cassell immediately became the Nets' starting point guard and reached a new level. He averaged over 18 points per game in six of the next seven years and made his first career All-Star appearance in 2004.
The Dallas Mavericks never gave Sam Cassell a true chance, but he played 11 more years and was a starting point guard and key contributor for the Nets, Bucks, Clippers, and Celtics. Dallas failed to recognize his talent, and they paid by missing the playoffs for the next four years before finally breaking through with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash in 2001.