NBA Trades: The Worst Trade Made in the History of Every Team

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2011

NBA Trades: The Worst Trade Made in the History of Every Team

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    The NBA is known for being a league in constant flux.  Players are constantly going from one team to another more so than any other sport, as teams are constantly looking for that one player to get them over the top or get them preparing for their future.

    However, with that much movement in the league, and with general managers constantly under pressure to put together a winning team lest they be fired, there are constantly bad trades happening.

    Each team has that one trade in their history that absolutely kills their fanbase to talk about. Whether they gave up on a player too soon, traded a draft pick in a year that pumped out an amazing draft class or just traded a player that ended up swaying multiple championships, teams have done regrettable things.

    As long as there is an NBA, there will be terrible, poorly thought-out trades that affect a team for years to come, and I have picked a trade for each team as their worst of all time.

Atlanta Hawks: Shipping Away Bill Russell

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    Back in 1956, Red Auerbach had his sights set on a young man by the name of Bill Russell in the draft, but the Celtics were too low in the draft order to draft him.

    So, he took a risk, sending his six-time All-Star center Ed Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks, who had drafted Russell.

    All that happened from there is Bill Russell went on to lead the Celtics to 11 NBA Championships, win five MVP Awards and go on to be one of the top five players of all time.

Boston Celtics: Giving Up on Billups

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    In 1997 the Boston Celtics drafted Chauncey Billups with the third pick in the NBA draft, but they only held onto him until February of '98, trading him with Dee Brown, Roy Rogers and John Thomas for Kenny Anderson, Popeye Jones and Zan Tabak.

    Billups went on to bounce around the league for a few years, but after taking off a bit with the Minnesota Timberwolves he signed with the Detroit Pistons where he took off.

    Kenny Anderson did okay for the Celtics as their starting point guard for the next few years, but had they held on to Billups they could have had a guard that would consistently give them 15 points a game and nearly 10 assists later on in his career.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Gerald Wallace Trade

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    I completely agree with trading Gerald Wallace this past season to start the rebuilding process for the Charlotte Bobcats, but is that the best they could have gotten for him?

    Charlotte got marginal players (Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks) plus two first-round picks from a team that looks to stay out of the lottery for the foreseeable future.

    As one of the top defenders in the league and a nice offensive player, Charlotte could have easily gotten a lottery pick (probably top-five protected) and another first-round pick down the line, plus a player with more potential than any of the three guys they ended up getting from Portland.

Chicago Bulls: Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler

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    In what was one of the worst trades of the last decade, the Chicago Bulls sent Elton Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tyson Chandler.

    Brand was one of the best power forwards in the league until injuries slowed him down, averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebound for six years with the Clippers, while Chandler peaked at just under eight points and 10 rebounds a game for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Gift Wrapping James Worthy

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    Ask any Cavaliers fan and they will tell you that there are three people they hate when it comes to their team's history.

    For right now, LeBron James claims that top spot, Carlos Boozer is still up there and Ted Stepien will always occupy a top spot.  He only owned the team for just over two years, but he ruined them for a decade, routinely trading away high draft picks for little in return.

    In 1980 he traded their first round pick in 1982 to the Lakers for Butch Lee and their 1980 first-rounder (Chad Kinch).

    LA ended up drafting James Worthy with that pick, and the league went on to make a rule known as the Stepien Rule, forbidding teams from trading away first round draft picks in successive years.

Dallas Mavericks: Giving Away Detlef

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    Dallas has made some bad trades in their history, but none of them are really horrible; but trading Detlef Schrempf was regrettable.

    For three years Schrempf was on Dallas' bench, not getting much playing time behind the Mavericks bigs.

    They traded him in 1989 with a second-round pick in 1990 for Herb Williams.  Schrempf averaged over 15 points a game until 1990 while Williams played three mediocre years with the Mavericks.

Denver Nuggets: Missing the Glide

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    Looking for depth and a promising young player with David Thompson, Alex English and Dan Issel leading their team, Denver traded away their 1983 first-round pick for a young T.R. Dunn.

    Dunn went on to have a long, yet unimpressive career for Denver, while the guy who ended up getting drafted with the pick they traded was slightly more impressive.

    Portland drafted Clyde Drexler with the pick they received and never looked back.

Detroit Pistons: Bringing in A.I.

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    The Detroit Pistons took a gamble back in 2008 following their exit in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, trading mainstays Antonio McDyess and Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson.

    The rationale was that Iverson had only a year left on his contract, and if he were to under-perform then they could let him walk in free agency.

    Iverson played only 54 games for the Pistons who were taken out in the first round of the playoffs, and shot just 41 percent, while the Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals.

Golden State Warriors: Giving the Celtics a Dynasty

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    Just like the Cleveland Cavaliers gave the Lakers a piece of their dynasty back in the 1980s, the Golden State Warriors gave the Boston Celtics key parts of their dynasty.

    For two first-round picks that ended up being Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown, the Celtics received Robert Parish and a first-round pick that ended up turning into low-post machine Kevin McHale.

    Boston went on to win three titles in six years after this trade; Golden State didn't.

Indiana Pacers: Nobody to Stop Shaq

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    In the latter half of the 1990s, the Indiana Pacers were threatening to fill the void the Chicago Bulls left after their unceremonious breakup in 1998 and win a title.

    The lockout season in 1999 saw them lose in six games to the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, but they were on the way to getting better the following season.

    In the offseason they nonchalantly traded Antonio Davis, a physical, up-and-coming big man who had decent numbers but was revered for his strength down low, for Jonathan Bender, a big man who didn't even play 250 games for the Pacers in seven seasons.

    They made it to the finals the next season and pushed the Lakers to six games (the best challenge they got in their dynastic years in the finals besides their loss to the Pistons), but were abused by Shaquille O'Neal who didn't score fewer than 33 points in any finals game.

    Antonio Davis, as one of the top young defensive big men at the time could have given them a guy to throw at Shaq off the bench, and he could have at least given him a better battle than over-the-hill Sam Perkins and Dale Davis.

    He may not have been able to stop Shaq, but he probably would have been able to slow him down better than any of their other options.

Houston Rockets: Jefferson for Griffin

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    On draft day in 2001, the Houston Rockets drafted Richard Jefferson with the 13th pick in the draft, but had their eyes set on Eddie Griffin.

    So, they shipped Jefferson, Jason Collins and Brandon Armstrong to the New Jersey Nets for Griffin.

    Jefferson, Collins and Armstrong were all a part of the great Nets teams of the early '00s, while Griffin would only play with the Rockets for two seasons and was later killed in a car crash in 2007.

Los Angeles Clippers: Giving Away an All-Time Great

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    One of the best point guards of the 1990s, Mark Jackson was a part of the (surprisingly) decent Los Angeles Clippers of the early 90s.

    But they hit a rough season in 1993 and decided to trade away Jackson for some young players.

    They  gave Jackson and Greg Minor for none other than Eric Piatkowski, Pooh Richardson and Malik Sealy.

    Needless to say, Los Angeles got the raw end of this deal.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shaq Gets out

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    In the midst of an NBA Finals loss and a feud as old as time itself with Kobe Bryant, Shaq wanted out of Los Angeles.

    The Lakers shipped one of the greatest centers to ever play the game to Miami in exchange for Caron Butler (who they wildly traded for Kwame Brown), Brian Grant, Lamar Odom and a few draft picks.

    Odom was the only thing to come of this trade that helped them in any way, while Shaq went on to win a title with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

Memphis Grizzlies: The Pau Gasol Mugging

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    A trade that is getting less ugly over time, the Los Angeles Lakers seemingly mugged the Memphis Grizzlies to get Pau Gasol in Gold and Purple.

    For Gasol, the Grizzlies got Marc Gasol (who is rapidly turning into one of the best centers in the league), Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and two picks that would turn into Donte Green and Greivis Vasquez.

Miami Heat: Giving Up Too Early?

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    In another trade where a team seemingly didn't get enough out of one of the best centers of all time, the Miami Heat shipped Shaq to Phoenix in 2008, thinking Shaq was getting past his prime.

    All they got out of Shaq was Shawn Marion, who went on to have a decent part of two seasons with the Heat and Marcus Banks, who didn't.

    Shaq, meanwhile, went on to bounce back from his shaky start to the 2007-08 season to shoot over 60 percent for the next year-and-a-half with the Suns.

Milwaukee Bucks: Dirk for Tractor

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    In what is in considered one of the worst draft-day trades of all time, the Milwaukee Bucks sent Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity to the Dallas Mavericks for Robert "Tractor" Traylor.

    Traylor was actually one of my favorite players of the last decade (despite the fact that he scored just over 2,000 points in seven years), but he was eons away from Dirk Nowitzki who just led his Dallas Mavericks to their first championship in team history.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Roy for Foye

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    It seemed like a decent trade at the time, but the Minnesota Timberwolves' draft-day trade with the Portland Trail Blazers in which they sent Brandon Roy away for Randy Foye was an ugly one.

    Despite the fact that Roy now has kneecaps the thickness of eggshells, he could still probably take Foye with little problems.

    Foye has played for three teams in five years, putting up some decent numbers but doing it with terrible shooting, while Roy became the Blazers' best player by 2008.

New Jersey Nets: Selling the Doctor

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    When they came over to the NBA from the ABA, the New Jersey Nets were a bit strapped for cash, having to pay damages for "invading" the New York Knicks territory amounting to $4.8 million.

    They had promised a raise to Dr. J, but with their invasion money and fee to enter the NBA they couldn't afford it, so he refused to play for the Nets.

    New Jersey was more or less forced to sell the Doctor to Philadelphia for $3 million.

New Orleans Hornets: Divac for Kobe

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    In what is pretty universally considered the worst trade of the 1990s, and in consideration for the worst of all time, the Charlotte Hornets traded away Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac.

    The charge-taking Serbian was a fine player for the Hornets, but he signed with the Kings as a free agent two years after the trade.

    Kobe Bryant just went on to win five NBA Championships, being the unquestioned leader for at least two of them.

New York Knicks: Eddy Curry Eats Away at a Franchise

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    The post-Ewing New York Knicks were a terribly embarrassing era in the storied history of the Knicks, and it was full of questionable free agent signings, but most importantly terrible trades.

    In 2005, a trade that ate up more cap space and gave away more important draft picks than any other was a move that brought Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis to the Knicks for Jermaine Jackson, Mike Sweetney and Tim Thomas plus draft picks that would become LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah, Kyrylo Fesenko and Jon Brockman.

    Eddy Curry played two full seasons for the Knicks before falling apart and playing 69 games over the final three years of his deal.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Polynice for Pippen

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    Another one of the worst draft day trades of all time, the Seattle Supersonics traded one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the game for a guy named Olden Polynice.

    You should know just by the sound of the name Olden Polynice that he isn't going to be a great player in the NBA.

    He never averaged more than 13 points a game in his surprisingly long (17-year) career, while Pippen was the missing piece of the Bulls who went on to win six championships.

Orlando Magic: Grant Hill for Ben Wallace

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    The Orlando Magic didn't know what they had in Ben Wallace when they drafted him back in 2000, but they should have.

    Orlando saw Ben Wallace grab eight rebounds in 24 minutes a game.  That, plus his stellar defense should have been enough to show them that he was going to be a great defender.

    However, they had a chance to get Grant Hill, who had yet to have injury problems in his career, so you can't blame them too much.

Philadelphia 76ers: Trading Chuck

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    The Philadelphia 76ers were fed up with Charles Barkley's antics back in 1992, so they traded him to the Phoenix Suns.

    In exchange they got Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry.

    Barkley never won a title in his career, but I think it's safe to say that I would rather have him on my team than the combination of Hornacek, Lang and Perry.

Phoenix Suns: Jason Kidd Goes Away

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    After getting him from the Dallas Mavericks in 1996, the Phoenix Suns decided they could go ahead and flip him in 2001.

    They traded him away to the New Jersey Nets with Chris Dudley for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake.

    This trade paid off two-fold for the Nets. They got Kidd who led them to the NBA Finals twice in the first half of the 2000s and got rid of Stephon Marbury, who was almost as cancerous to his teams as Terrell Owens is to teams in the NFL.

Portland Trail Blazers: J'Oneal for Dale Davis

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    In what seems to be one of the most short-sighted trades of my lifetime, the Portland Trail Blazers traded Jermaine O'Neal and former Luc Longley backup Joe Kleine for Dale Davis--and that's it.

    O'Neal, once he got playing time, became a top-five big man for the better part of a decade while Dale Davis was Dale Davis.

Sacramento Kings: Trading Big O

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    In 1970 the Milwaukee Bucks pulled off what was at the time one of the most stunning trades in league history. 

    Some said that head coach Bob Cousy was getting jealous of the attention that Oscar Robertson was getting, so he negotiated a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, sending Robertson for Charlie Paulk and Flynn Robinson.

    The trade allowed the Bucks to win a title with their combination of the veteran Robertson and young Kareem Abdul-Jabar, while the Cincinnati Royals moved to Kansas City two years later.

San Antonio Spurs: The Only Mistake of a Decade

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    Many people look at any move the San Antonio Spurs make these days and just accept that it's going to work out.

    That's how good they have been since drafting Tim Duncan—they have the reputation that every move they make is going to work out.

    Well, the one move that didn't work out in the past decade and more, the San Antonio Spurs traded Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto for Richard Jefferson back in 2009.

Toronto Raptors: High Flier Flies South

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    Back in 2004, the Toronto Raptors traded the best player that had ever donned a dinosaur on the front of his uniform for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron and Eric Williams and draft picks that turned into Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman.

    Carter went on to have the best years of his career in the following four years in New Jersey while the Williamses only played 98 games for the Raptors, while Mourning never played a single game.

Utah Jazz: Can't Get 'Nique to Stay

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    In 1982 with the third pick in the draft, the Utah Jazz picked Dominique Wilkins, but Wilkins didn't want to go to Utah.  No matter what they did, they couldn't convince him to sign.

    So, in September before the season started they shipped him off to Atlanta for John Drew and Freeman Williams.

    Williams scored just 92 points in his time with the Jazz, while Drew had a good three years with the team, scoring 21, 17 and 16 points a game for Utah.

    But nothing could realistically make up for missing out on one of the best guards of the 80's; and for that Jazz fans will forever regret missing out on Wilkins.

Washington Wizards: Richmond for Webber

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    The one guy that pulled the Sacramento Kings together to make them the best team of the 2000's to never make it to the finals was gift wrapped to them by the Washington Wizards.

    For just Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe, Sacramento got Chris Webber, where he played five of the most consistently effective seasons of his career.

    For Webber, Washington got a Richmond who jacked up shots to pad his stats, scoring over 15 a game in his three years there, but shooting no better than 42.6 percent for the Wizards.

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