The NBA season just tipped off this past Tuesday, and not even a few games in, is already buzzing with several headlines. Gordon Haywards severe ankle injury, the emergence of Bucks Forward Giannis Antetokumpo and the rather slow start for the world champion Golden State Warriors. Additionally, there have been a lot of player shifts and interesting storylines heading into this season, and it sure has lived up to all they hype.
Perhaps the most intriguing storyline this season thus far, has been the recent good play from the Minnesota Timberwolves. For the moment, they appear to be a team on the rise with Forward Jimmy Butler playing alongside Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. We’ll have to see if it ultimately works out for the Wolves come playoff time, but they are off to a great start and it looks promising for them nonetheless.
However, I’d like to take a step back with this piece to articulate one thing that makes or breaks a team's success; chemistry. Chemistry is one of the key ingredients for a teams success in the game of basketball, especially in the NBA. And if teammates are not on the same page, or committed to playing defense or the little things, they will most likely not see any improvement in the win/loss column. Chemistry also affects players relationships. If the players aren’t getting along, chances are the rest of the team will have to suffer as well.
With these things in mind, this list takes a look at 15 NBA players who unfortunately suffered from this issue, and were ultimately responsible for another teammates downfall.
15 LeBron James (Matthew Dellavedova)
Let's start with the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. After a herculean effort to rally and defeat the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, things looked good for the Cavaliers supporting cast moving forward.
However, things didn’t turn out as planned for the Cavaliers and many of those core players were let go, including Matthew Dellavedova. The Cavaliers understandably went out of their way to keep their leader, LeBron James. And they didn't have enough cap space to sign Dellavedova back the next season.
Dellavedova’s averages and numbers decreased each season playing with LeBron. Not to mention the Cavaliers made a lot of moves the last two off seasons. So attempting to sign Matthew back was not something the Cavaliers were prepared to do because of LeBron, and who he wanted to play with.
14 Kobe Bryant (Ron Artest)
Remember that great game from Metta World Peace to help the LA Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in the 2009 NBA Finals? We sure don’t. In fact, since winning the title that year Ron Artist, or now known as Metta World Peace, did close to nothing during that span in the NBA. His numbers and minutes had all dropped to career lows, and his contributions were looking more and more irrelevant for the Lakers.
Metta World Peace makes the list here because his relationship with Kobe Bryant. Although they had won a championship together in 2009, they did have some chemistry issues.
World Peace is now a member of the New Orleans Gators, a team competing in the global mixed gender basketball league (GMGB).
13 The Celtics (Isaiah Thomas)
Although the Cavaliers ultimately got the better end of this insane deal this offseason, at least in my opinion, it will take some time for PG Isaiah Thomas to return from his hip injury dating back to last season. And we’ll see if he can help the Cavaliers make another run at the Warriors come playoff time.
Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics make the list here because of the front office decision by Danny Ainge to trade Thomas. After Isaiah heard he was going to be traded to the Cavaliers he had a message for him saying, “I never want to talk to the guy again. After everything I went through and all I did for this team, you don’t do that”.
Although it was certainly a complicated situation for Ainge when he pulled the trigger, but it was clearly not received well from Isaiah. In light of this, he makes the list here.
12 Carmelo Anthony (Jeremy Lin)
Remember that small stretch of games when “Lin-Sanity” was a thing in NY? Well we sure don’t. What once looked like a promising time for Lin and the Knicks, quickly turned into a downfall for Lin. Former teammate Amare Stoudemire recalled how Melo drove Lin out of the Big Apple to the New York Post:
“Jeremy was a great, great guy, great with teammates, worked hard. He put the work in. We were proud of him having his moment. A lot of times you got to enjoy somebody else’s success. That wasn’t the case for us during that stretch. You got to enjoy that and let that player enjoy himself and cherish those moments. He was becoming a star and I didn’t think everyone was pleased with that.’’
Amare’s remarks as well as Melos seemed quite selfish during Lins time as a Knick, understandably. However, it is unfortunate he is now on a horrendous team like the Nets because of it.
11 LeBron James/Cavs (Timofey Mozgov)
It seems like we’re seeing LeBron’s name often here. And, unfortunately, Mozgov was just another player from the Cavaliers who had to suffer because of LeBron. Similar to Dellavedova, Mozgov was a solid defender, rebounder and contributor to the Cavaliers success.
He also makes the list here because of the insane road LeBron had that season. During that stretch in the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron averaged nearly a triple double, something several NBA greats don’t have on their resume. In light of that, one could guess Mozgov's numbers also went down in points rebounds and assists, especially when the Cavaliers brought in more players. In light of the greatness of LeBron, along with the Cavaliers moves in the offseason, Mozgov was just another piece that left town.
10 DeMarcus Cousins/Kings (Rudy Gay)
The Kings have been a very dysfunctional organization in the NBA for quite some time now. From their wins and loss column, bad trades from their GM, or just bad play during the season, the Kings have been a very poor team for a long time to say the least.
Boogie Cousins and Rudy Gay make the list here because DeMarcus Cousins refused to play any defense and Rudy Gay was never healthy during the season, which usually isn't a good sign if your the Kings.
Perhaps the most insane thing about Cousins getting traded to the Pelicans was that they got Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and a draft pick in return, which in retrospect, was literally nothing for them. One could understand the frustration that builded between these two and thats why Gay is all but a role player on the San Antonio Spurs.
9 Paul George (Roy Hibbert)
Paul George and Roy Hibbert were a solid duo for the Pacers, especially when they faced the Miami Heat several times in the playoffs and pushed them to the brink. Roy Hibbert contributed a lot on both ends of the floor for Indiana, averaging about 13 PPG and nearly 10 RPG. Although those numbers had regressed more and more for Hibbert since 2013, he was consistent.
Hibbert makes the list because of Paul George's inability to stay on the court, while voicing his displeasure playing for the Pacers. George had suffered a knee injury dating back a few years ago. And he was also very unhappy with the situation in Indiana, which is why Roy Hibbert would eventually leave. Roy Hibbert is now a member of the Denver Nuggets.
8 Blake Griffin (Chris Paul)
There was a lot of promise for the Clippers with this duo. “Lob City” was starting to look more and more like a playoff team, until they were plagued with several injuries and Kevin Durant got traded to Golden State. The West has gotten tougher and tougher each year, part of the reason why there has been so much tension building in LA.
There certainly seemed to be some tension between Paul and the Clippers organization, specifically him and Doc Rivers. As per Broderick Turner on LA Times, Rivers said “Listen, when you leave, you should just leave,” Rivers said. I didn’t think our culture was as good as it should have been last year because we had guys thinking about leaving. And when you have that, I’ve always believed either you’re in or you’re out.” This might be the reason why CP3 is now a Rocket.
7 Russell Westbrook (Enes Kanter)
Some players benefit from playing alongside one of the best PGs in the league like Westbrook. However, some struggle wish sharing the limelight and fall behind the shadows. Enes Kanter was a great piece to Oklahoma City, posting a double double nearly every game while scoring 15 PPG last season for the Thunder.
Kanter makes the list simply because he was on the wrong end of the deal with Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks agreed to deal Carmelo Anthony for Kanter, McDermott and a 1st round draft pick. Kanters numbers went up playing with Russell Westbrook, so we’ll have to see if the same occurs with the Knicks. The Knicks still have many holes to fix and it doesn’t look promising for Kanter moving forward.
6 Ray Allen (Rajon Rondo)
The “Big 4” in Boston was great for the time being. The group had won an NBA Championship together in 2008 and remained a great team for a while. Not to mention Ray Allen had set multiple records in 3 point fg percentage and 325 3 pointers made in one season, while at the same time, Rajon was averaging a career high in assists.
However, the two ultimately didn’t work out in Boston because they had some beef brewing shortly after the 2008 season. According to slamonline.com “He (Allen) said the friction with Rondo began in 2009 when Rivers and Celtics president Danny Ainge proposed a trade that would have sent Allen and Rondo to Phoenix for Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa and the 14th overall pick in the 2010 draft.” The two didn’t want to be traded at the time and it seems clear that affected their friendship.
5 James Harden (Patrick Beverly)
James Harden has serval insane stats that many of his critics refuse to acknowledge. He has averaged career numbers in all points, rebounds and assists over the past three seasons with the Rockets. However, Harden and Beverly ultimately didn't work out in Houston because of defense. Beverly played defense night in and night out, while Harden just scored and played defense not nearly as much.
Playing defense has plagued James Harden for most of his career. He hasn’t averaged many steals, just 2.2 per game. And his rebounding numbers have regressed in recent years as well. In light of this, one could assume why players like Patrick Beverly would be frustrated with Hardens effort, which leads us to believe why Beverly is no longer with the Rockets.
4 Stephen Curry (Monta Ellis)
Imagine what the Warriors could have been had Monta Ellis stayed and worked it out with Stephen Curry and the Warriors back in 2012. We may never know but since the Warriors drafted Klay Thompson Draymond Green and really re-loaded themselves, players like Monta Ellis ultimately had to be traded because of that.
Jovan Buha discusses why the Warriors might not have been able to win with Monta on their team on FoxSports.com. “The main purpose of the move, though, was to free Curry from Ellis’ ball-dominant ways, and to eventually unleash rookie sniper Klay Thompson. Ellis had claimed in 2009 that he and Curry could never co-exist in the same backcourt, which ironically finalized his departure from the team a couple years later.”
In light of that, it was inevitable that the trade would happen and unfortunately Monta’s career has regressed while Curry’s has skyrocketed since then.
3 Dirk Nowitzki (J.J. Redick)
Dirk Nowitzki certainly had his best campaign in 2010-11 with the Mavericks. Averaging career numbers in points and rebounds, while leading Dallas to a 2011 finals victory over LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
It was nothing short of greatness for Nowitzki and the Mavs, however, some players like J.J. Redick were traded as a result of wanting to keep Dirk. Nowitzki had been with the Mavericks for a long time and it seemed like trading J.J. Redick in order to keep Dirk was the right thing to do for the time being. Sometimes role players have to pay the price and can't be kept because the star is the priority. In no way was Dirk at fault for this, but it's the nature of the business.
2 Dwyane Wade (Chris Bosh)
These two ultimately didn't work out simply because Chris Bosh couldn’t stay on the court. He was plagued with several knee and leg injuries for most of the season with the Heat. Not to mention he suffered a blood clot which kept him out of an entire season.
On the contrary, Wade, as well as Bosh, were both quite hesitant about staying with the Heat after LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland in 2014. While Wade's future with Miami was not promised, neither was Chris Bosh’s, which is why he has regressed since and hasn't played in a NBA game today. The trio would end up being split up altogether, as D-Wade left Miami prior to the 2016-17 season.
1 Shaq (Penny Hardaway)
Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway were one of the most dynamic duos in the NBA and it was assumed they would eventually win a championship together. However, they also happened to play in the same era as Michael Jordan, so their best shot at a title came in 1995, when MJ had missed most of the season and hadn't quite found his game. The Magic were swept by the Rockets and after a few disappointing seasons, Shaq wanted a big money contract and left Orlando to go to L.A.
Following Shaq's departure, Hardaway was left in the dust and while he remained a productive player, Shaq's departure essentially ended Hardaway's hopes of bringing Orlando a championship.