By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 21: October 24, 1976 – The Braves trade Moses Malone to Houston for a first-round draft choice in 1977 and a first-round draft choice in 1978.
Moses Malone had been something special when it came to basketball for much of his life. He was the first player to jump directly from the high school to the pros, signing with the ABA’s Utah Jazz. Malone had two good years in that league before it merged with the NBA in 1976, and then had a brief stop in Portland before coming to Buffalo in the fall of 1976.
The idea behind the trade was that Moses represented a little insurance if Bob McAdoo’s contract situation could not be worked out. But Malone already had shown he was a very good player, and he wasn’t going to be happy as someone’s backup. Malone reportedly demanded that he be guaranteed a certain amount of minutes per game. That didn’t go over well with Braves management.
Malone saw three minutes of playing time in two games here, and then Buffalo then shipped the center to Houston for a pair of first-round picks. There he continued a career that would last 21 years and put him in the Hall of Fame. Malone averaged more than 20 points per game for 11 straight years, and led the league in rebounds per game six times. The center might be the best offensive rebounder in history, having been the league leader nine different times. If the Braves had known what they had in Malone, Buffalo’s basketball history might have looked much different than how it turned out.
Click here for a recap of the last 20 trades.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)