Mid-February usually marks a couple of things annually each year. Most of the holiday Visa bills are received and people cringe as to how much the balance is. A good chunk of New Years resolutions are already broken and finally the NBA trade deadline is marked on calendars league wide.
Each year there are buyers and sellers as teams jockey for position to either make a run at the playoffs (or championship) or they get rid of dead weight to clear space for free agency and adding draft picks for the upcoming summer bonanza. While some trades are completely lopsided, others remain questionable as to which team really came out ahead, sometimes an issue that isn't answered until well into the future.
This winter, fans, players and pretty much all but two of the teams in the league were caught off guard by the trade between the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans despite promises by the Kings organization that they would not part with their cornerstone franchise player. While a number of the trades below may be described as some of the worst in league history and others can be defined as some of the best, the judgement is in the eyes of the management party that signed off on each of the deals and occasionally the fans that can see the bigger picture, we'll leave that up to you to decide.
15 Houston Rockets / Portland Trail Blazers - 1995
Portland receives - Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicole & 1995 1st round pick
Houston receives - Clyde Drexler and Tracy Murray
Before the 1993-94 season, the Houston Rockets had previously only reached the NBA finals twice in team history. In claiming their first championship, Hakeem Olajuwon may have carried one of the weakest rosters in NBA history (for all those complaining about what LeBron had to do during his first run in Cleveland) to the promise land in a seven game battle with the NY Knicks.
14 New York Knicks / Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves - 2011
NY receives - Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, Corey Brewer & second-round pick
Denver receives - Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, 2012 & 2013 second round picks, 2014 Knicks 1st round pick & cash
Minnesota receives - Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph & cash
On paper six years ago, the Knicks made off like bandits. Who would have thought that this trade would have actually favored the Denver Nuggets when you consider a player like Carmelo, a superstar level talent. However, since the addition of Melo, to a roster that once also included Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith to name but a few, the Knicks have managed only three trips to the playoffs, including two first round losses and a loss in the EC Semis.
The Nuggets, who lost the biggest name in the trade have also struggled to make a presence in the playoffs, participating only three times since the deal, calling it a season after the first round all three times. However, considering that Melo was all but guaranteed to sign with the Knicks the following summer, the return that the Nuggets got on the soon to be free agent was impressive. Had Gallinari and Chandler avoided health issues, Denver would have almost certainly had more success.
13 Philadelphia 76ers / Atlanta Hawks - 2001
Philadelphia receives - Dikembe Mutombo and Roshown McLeod
Atlanta receives - Toni Kukoc, Theo Ratliff, Nazr Mohammed & Pepe Sanchez
When Philadelphia combined one of the biggest defensive presences the league at that time with one of the biggest (or smallest) offensive presences in the league at that time, the result became the Sixers first trip to the NBA Finals in nearly two decades.
Adding the 7'2" shot blocking big man to Allen Iverson's crew at first seemed to be an odd pairing, but what AI gave the team on the offensive end, Mt. Mutombo provided on the defensive end. Mutombo would only stay in the City of Brotherly Love for two seasons before being traded to New Jersey, but the move was worth it as the Hawks continued to flounder for the the next seven years before a much revamped roster that featured none of the four acquired players would go on a lengthy playoff run.
12 Utah Jazz / Philadelphia 76ers - 1994
Utah receives - Jeff Hornacek, Sean Green & 1995 2nd round pick
Philadelphia receives - Jeff Malone and 1994 first round pick
Back in '94 the Jazz created a Big Three of their own in order to compete in the Wild West and eventually against Mr. Jordan's Chicago Bulls in back to back NBA Finals. After a loss in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Jazz needed a bit of a shakeup. While Malone was more than a capable scorer his chemistry with the Stockton to Malone (Karl that is) playset just didn't seem to jive.
11 Detroit Pistons / Atlanta Hawks / Boston Celtics - 2004
Detroit receives - Rasheed Wallace and Mike James
Atlanta receives - Chris Mills, Bob Sura, Zeljko Rebraca & 2004 1st round pick
Boston receives - Lindsey Hunter, Chucky Atkins & 2004 1st round pick
'Sheed only played one game for the Hawks following a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, but what he provided the Pistons was the missing piece to a starless championship squad. Made up of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace (no relation), Rasheed fit right in as the blue collar power forward that the team was missing.
10 Phoenix Suns / Boston Celtics - 2002
Phoenix receives - Joe Johnson, Milt Palacio, Randy Brown & 2002 1st round pick
Boston receives - Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk
For immediate impact, sure the addition of Rogers helped strengthen the Celtics bench and proved to be an asset for one season as the team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. Or you could look at the long run and question why they traded the 10th overall pick, one who could have easily teamed with Paul Pierce for years to come for an aging veteran.
9 Miami Heat / Phoenix Suns - 2008
Miami receives - Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks
Phoenix receives - Shaquille O'Neal
For three and a half years, the Phoenix Suns offense was the most prolific and entertaining brand of basketball in the NBA. After the February 2008 NBA trade deadline, it came to a screeching halt. Playing his in his 15th season a well weathered O'Neal was not the answer to the Suns' problems, in actual fact the future Hall Of Fame big man created more.
With a roster that featured a run and gun lineup of Amar'e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Leandro Barbosa, Grant Hill and Raja Bell, swapping The Matrix for the Big Cactus brought the Suns' offense to a crawl. After a pair of trips to the Western Finals and one to the Western Semifinals, GM Steve Kerr and Coach Mike D'Antoni went for broke, thinking the big man would help carry the Suns to the promise land.
8 Miami Heat / Golden State Warriors - 1996
Miami receives - Tim Hardaway and Chris Gatling
Golden State receives - Bimbo Coles and Kevin Willis
After five and a half years as a member of the Warriors and the famed RUN TMC trio that was broken up far too early, Hardaway would find himself switching beaches to the East Coast. Following just two trips to the playoffs during his time with the Warriors, Tim Bug would be a valuable asset for the Heat as they embarked on a string of six straight postseason appearances.
7 Cleveland Cavaliers / L.A. Clippers - 2011
Cleveland receives - Baron Davis and 2011 1st round pick
LA receives - Jamario Moon and Mo Williams
To be fair, Williams had just come off of being named to the 2009 All-Star team and Moon had a decent rookie and sophomore sea....oh hell, come on now, we are talking about Jamario Moon here people.
Davis, who was a shell of his former self that may have actually eaten that shell had it been made of chocolate, was nothing but a salary cap dump for the Clippers who were looking to clear space to re-sign DeAndre Jordan and Eric Gordon. Unfortunately for then Clippers GM Neil Olshey, he did not put any protection on the draft pick, a move that would come back to haunt him. While the Clips entered the draft with less than 30% odds of having the pick be the number one overall selection, let us remember that these are the Clippers we are talking about and very little has gone right for that franchise.
6 New Orleans Hornets / Golden State Warriors - 2005
New Orleans receives - Dale Davis and Speedy Claxton
Golden State receives - Baron Davis
We believe the dunk heard throughout the NBA is enough to describe how lopsided this trade was. Sure Davis was already walking around with the label "injury prone" before he even reached the age of 25, but even on potential alone he was worth more than Dale and Speedy.
Sure it took a couple of years and a few more acquisitions, but when the 2006-07 Don Nelson-led Warriors qualified for the Western Conference playoffs as the eighth seed and upset the top seeded Dallas Mavericks in the opening round, the renaissance was in full effect.
5 *5. New Orleans Pelicans / Sacramento Kings - 2017
New Orleans receives - DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi
Sacramento receives - Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, 2017 1st & 2nd round picks
We'll put a little asterisk next to this one. While it was recent, we believe in 5-10 years, this will just be another footnote in the line of incompetence of the Sacramento Kings.
Kings GM Vlade Divac fully believes that his most recent move will be a success, so much that he is willing to put his job on the line stating he will step down in two years if the team is not better off. Now let's hold off for a second on the fact that the Kings' owner Vivek Ranadive thinks that Hield can be a similar player to that of Steph Curry.
4 Utah Jazz / New Jersey Nets - 2011
Utah receives - Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, 2011 1st round pick, 2013 1st round pick & cash
New Jersey receives - Deron Williams
Before he was traded to the Nets, Williams was in debate talks as the next great point guard along with Chris Paul. One obviously has reached expected status, the other, not so much. When you run Jerry Sloan out of Utah (rumor), you know that you did something wrong.
3 Milwaukee Bucks / Seattle SuperSonics - 2003
Milwaukee receives - Gary Payton and Desmond Mason
Seattle receives - Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie, Ronald Murray & 2003 1st round pick
How the Sonics were able to part with arguably the face of their franchise is baffling. We aren't talking just the most popular player in a short era, we are talking in the history of the entire franchise! However, as much as it hurt fans to see The Glove go, bringing in Jesus Shuttlesworth and some component parts was well worth it. Sure if they hadn't traded Payton chances were he would still stick with the team, unlike his 28 game tenure with the Bucks before moving on as a free agent to LA and at 34, he wasn't getting any younger.
2 Boston Celtics / Phoenix Suns - 2015
Boston receives - Isaiah Thomas
Phoenix receives - Marcus Thornton and 2016 1st round pick
By now, most of you know the Isaiah Thomas story, but for those who don't, here it is in a nutshell. Selected with the 60th pick in the 2011 draft by the Sacramento Kings, Thomas would average approximately 12 PPG and four assists during his two years with the club, while pretty much becoming the team's starting point guard in his second year.
For whatever reason, the Kings didn't want to keep the diminutive guard and shipped him off to Phoenix for the rights to Alex Oriakhi. Half a year later and the Suns figured that moving Thomas would help elevate the log jam they created at the lead guard spot. Upon arrival in Boston during the 2015 trade deadline, Thomas continued his missing to prove naysayers wrong and helped lead the C's to the club's best record since the Paul Pierce era.
1 Indiana Pacers / Dallas Mavericks - 1989
Indiana receives - Detlef Schrempf and 1993 2nd round pick
Dallas receives - Herb Williams
For the most of his four years in Indiana, Detlef would come off the bench to lead the Pacers' second unit as the team advanced to the playoffs in each of the four full seasons he was part of the team. As for a hidden gem of a second round pick, the Pacers used the 93rd overall pick on forward Antonio Davis. Despite averaging only nine points and six rebounds during his six seasons with the club, Davis would provide a solid big man presence in the paint for a team that would make four trips to the Eastern Conference Finals during his tenure.
As for Williams, he would start to see a decline in his stats as he aged. Coming off the bench for a Dallas team that made only one trip to the playoffs during his time with the Mavericks, he would be signed by the New York Knicks during the 1992 offseason.
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