Players being traded to different teams in the NBA happen every season, whether it is a minor salary dump or a blockbuster deal. Sometimes, the reason for the trades are because of basketball related needs for each team, and other times we find out it was because of either issues with a particular teammate, or because a redundancy at another teammate’s position.
Teammates can often be the cause another player has to leave a team via trade. Unhappy players can be a nightmare for a franchise, and in order to keep the team chemistry together, some players find themselves on new teams because they couldn’t fit in with the rest of the team.
Many times it is just one teammate though, and as we will see here, their are numerous examples of players being the real reason why certain players get traded to new destinations. Some players just aren’t the best teammates, and many times one player has to go due to another member of the team. Here we will have the player responsible for the trade mentioned first, followed by the player who was dealt in parenthesis.
15. Nick Young (D’Angelo Russell)
Neither of these players are members of the Los Angeles Lakers anymore, but the events that happened between these two are key factors to why D’Angelo Russell was shipped out over the summer. Russell was looked at as a locker room cancer after he recorded a video of Nick Young without his knowledge. The hostile relationship between not only Young, but other teammates around Russell made it clear that Russell was not the type of leader Los Angeles needed. The franchise moved forward after finding out that Russell could not be trusted in the locker room. Although Young is now off the team as well, the events between these two former Lakers are the reason Russell was shipped off to Brooklyn.
14. Kevin Garnett (Christian Laettner)
Christian Laettner was not a fan of Kevin Garnett’s rising fame in Minnesota. KG instantly became a fan favorite for the forgotten franchise, but Laettner still aimed harsh words the towards rookie, stating the rookies and young kids needed to shut up after another loss. The front office did not enjoy Laettner having a tense relationship with Kevin Garnett, and the two exchanged in a heated discussion in the middle of a game during a timeout. Keeping the future superstar happy was the focus of the Minnesota front office at the time, so it was addition by subtraction when the Timberwolves sent Laettner to Atlanta in 1996. Garnett was able to be himself and learn how to play in the NBA as a rookie without having veterans criticize the play of a 26-56 team that was rebuilding.
13. LeBron James/Kyrie Irving (Dion Waiters)
Dion Waiters’ antics and style of play just landed him a huge contract, but it also landed himself traded to Oklahoma City after not getting along with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. “Uncle Drew” became frustrated with the way Waiters would only look for his shot while sharing the court with him, and James was not amused at his media antics and the way he carried himself. Waiters tried to play like he was the greatest player alive at all times, and that gets problematic when the actual best player alive is forced to stand and watch. Waiters even claimed he was the superior backcourt player at one point. The three never meshed well during their time playing together, as clips of Waiters being frozen out on the court became its own meme. Waiters was ultimately traded for Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, a transaction that “GM” LeBron and Kyrie Irving definitely appreciated.
12. BJ Armstrong (Tim Hardaway)
Why on earth was BJ Armstrong the starting point guard for a team that had Tim Hardaway on the roster? This is how Hardaway also felt, as he was just in his season before being demoted into a sixth man role for the Warriors. Armstrong was named the starter because Hardaway had issues with Latrell Sprewell as well as head coach Rick Adelman. The issues between those three, as well as Armstrong intensified with Hardaway asking for a trade throughout the whole season. He did have a point that he should be starting, as he was produced much better numbers than Armstrong in less minutes. Armstrong wanted to become a starting point guard after leaving Chicago, and was able to get his wish in Golden State, at the expense of Hardaway being traded to Miami that season.
11. Nikola Jokic (Jusuf Nurkic)
After an impressive first two seasons, Jusuf Nurkic seemed to be a great big man who could start in Denver. That was not the case during his third season however, after he thought he would receive more minutes, he say his playing time stay the same as Nikola Jokic shined for the Nuggets. Jokic fit the Nuggets perfectly, and is now regarded as one of the leagues best young talents. Nurkic had no shot at getting the playing time he wanted with the league becoming smaller, and it was natural for Denver to part ways with the Bosnian Beast. The trade was beneficial to both big men, as Jokic was able to get even more minutes, and Nurkic has become beloved in Portland after getting starting minutes. The relationship between these two were never highly criticized or public, but there is no question that without Jokic bursting on to the scene, Nurkic would still be wearing a Nuggets uniform.
10. John Wall/Javaris Crittenton (Gilbert Arenas)
The most shocking part of the trade that sent Agent Zero to Orlando was not the Javaris Crittenton/Gilbert Arenas locker room fiasco that made Washington want to get rid of him, it is that they actually found someone willing to take his massive contract. After Arenas brought guns into a locker room as part of a beef with Crittenton, he was out the door, whether it was a trade or being released. John Wall’s play during his rookie season helped Arenas get shipped off, comforting the Wizards front office in their decision to move forward. Arenas would have been detrimental to Wall’s development, and for a franchise that needed to move forward, there was no question that Arenas needed to be traded.
9. Kevin Garnett (Wally Szczerbiak)
Kevin Garnett finds himself on this list twice, this time around getting Wally Szczerbiak shipped to Boston in 2006. It was reported that the Celtics were trying to get Garnett as well during that season or trade, but Garnett had such a poor relationship with Wally, that Garnett threatened by saying that he would opt out of his contract after the season. Minnesota was trying to keep Garnett happy, with hopes to resign him after the 2007 summer, and did so by getting rid of the teammate he could not stand. Before Garnett was ultimately traded to Boston, Danny Ainge made sure that Szczerbiak was off the team, trading him to Seattle. The relationship between the two hit rock bottom after KG punched Szczerbiak in the face during a game.
8. Mark Jackson (Rod Strickland)
Rod Strickland attempted to steal the starting role from Mark Jackson in New York, right after Jackson had just won Rookie of the Year. After co-existing for a season, Strickland started to show his true feelings about the situation. He tried to force his hand and demand to be the starter, but was instead shipped of to San Antonio for an aging point guard, Maurice Cheeks. Jackson has always had flamboyant personality, and couldn’t gel as well as the Knicks front office would have liked with Strickland. Instead they brought someone in who could be much more level headed, while not be gunning for the starting position in Maurice Cheeks. Cheeks was able to help mold Jackson, meanwhile if Strickland stayed in New York, he frustration with the Knicks coaching staff, and Jackson, would have risen and could have been a distraction.
7. Carmelo Anthony (Tim Hardaway Jr.)
Tim Hardaway Jr. really likes to have the basketball in his hands. Another member of the Knicks named Carmelo Anthony shares that interest just a little bit more though, and that was a big reason Hardaway was traded from the Knicks. Melo has a history of alienating his teammates that are ball dominate, because that means the ball is not in his hands. Jeremy Lin knows how that works all too well. Hardaway was an exciting young prospect, something the Knicks had not seen in awhile, but his style of play made it hard for him to share the floor with Anthony. These two get to be teammates again in New York, with Hardaway signing a contract with the Knicks this summer. Hopefully whatever problems that were present before can be pushed aside, but if not, this time Melo could see himself traded.
6. Rasheed Wallace (Jermaine O’Neal)
Rasheed Wallace does not have the greatest attitude when it comes to NBA players. Although his attitude was not the problem or the reason Jermaine O’Neal was ultimately traded, it was actually his high level of play. O’Neal couldn’t sniff meaningful minutes on a Blazer team that was stacked in the front court, with Arvydas Sibonis and Brian Grant occupying most of the minutes. Wallace was the key to the frontcourt, and with O’Neal just starting his career, there was no role for him to play. O’Neal sat on the bench, and did for numerous seasons, before Portland finally decided that because of how good their front court was with Wallace, they needed to trade O’Neal. Wallace’s inability to guard western conference big men such as Shaq also led to O’Neal getting traded, as Portland received Dale Davis in return, who they thought would help defensively.
5. Serge Ibaka (James Harden)
This one is the most heartbreaking, because it technically could have been avoided if Thunder owner, Clay Bennett was not one of the cheapest owners in the league. The young core of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka had to get paid at some point, and the Thunder chose to keep everyone but Harden. Knowing that they were not going to resign Harden in the offseason, after choosing to resign Ibaka instead, Harden was traded to the Rockets. This is easily one of the worst trades in the last decade, and could have been avoided if the Thunder chose not to extend Ibaka, or if Bennett felt like paying just a small amount in the luxury tax. Harden was basically out the door once the Thunder decided to keep Ibaka long term, before trading him as well.
4. Charles Barkley (Scottie Pippen)
It should not be a shocker that Charles Barkley had an ego that strained his relationship with Scottie Pippen. When the Rockets were attempting to build a super team in the late ’90s, these two could not keep their attitudes in check. In order for Pippen to sign, Barkley had to take a pay cut, which made Barkley disgruntled. As just the third leading scorer on the team, Barkley became frustrated with his role, and wanted Pippen off the team. That was no problem for Pippen, as he was clamoring for a trade as well after just one season of playing with Barkley. If the two were able to get along on the court, who knows what would have happened, but Barkley was not able to lower his ego in order to make this pairing work, and Pippen was promptly shown the door.
3. Steph Curry (Monta Ellis)
Could you imagine what would of happened if Monta Ellis stayed with the Warriors? The trade that made Golden State actual contenders was shipping off Ellis for Andrew Bogut, which received huge criticism at the time. Ellis was too ball dominant to let Steph Curry succeed, and even though Curry was battling a large amount of ankle injuries, the front office decided that Curry needed to be a feature guard rather than Ellis. Curry was not getting the touches he, and everyone in the bay area thought he should be getting due to Ellis’ ball stopping isolation offensive style. The Warriors were looking at trading Ellis for over a season, but waited to pull the trigger for so long due to Curry’s inability to stay on the court. After Ellis was traded, the Warriors were able to build on the foundation of what makes their team today.
2. Jimmy Jackson (Jason Kidd)
The Mavericks had something going in the mid ’90s, with Jimmy Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, and Rookie of the Year Jason Kidd forming a young trio. Unfortunately, their relationship was put to the test due to a reported love triangle between Jackson, Kidd, and singer Toni Braxton, that both claim never happened. The two were not able to coexist as teammates, as Kidd accused Jackson of being selfish on the court, and it was clear that would of the players needed to be traded. The Mavericks ended up trading Jason Kidd first to Phoenix that winter, and parting ways Jackson and Mashburn during the same season near the trade deadline. After Kidd won Rookie of the Year, and Jackson averaging 25.7 point per game two seasons before, it is sad that these players couldn’t play together.
1. Kobe Bryant (Shaquille O’Neal)
Kobe Bryant is beloved among NBA fans, but would his legacy be even better if he did not single handily run Shaquille O’Neal out of town. The two alpha males co existed enough to get three championships together, but once Kobe felt that it was time for the Lakers to be “his team,” and Shaq was quickly traded. After O’Neal started to not care about his conditioning in the off-season, Bryant’s competitive nature took over and highly criticized the big man. After losing in the finals in 2004, the relationship turned even worse, and Bryant not only pushed Shaq at the door, he drop kicked him off a cliff and permanently damaged the perception of the two’s relationship. The outcome of this trade fared well for not only these two, but NBA fans who love drama, with O’Neal free styling about his relationship with The Mamba after winning a ring in Miami.
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