There are a lot of trades that happen in the NBA on a yearly basis, with most of them coming during the day of the yearly NBA Draft or just before the February deadline. While there aren’t many blockbuster deals out there, there are certainly enough to grab some headlines, especially with the hardcore fans.
Not a lot of the casual fans will recognize a lot of the names that get swapped around during these two trade-packed days of the year, but they can end up being important years or even just months down the road. In the past couple of years alone, we’ve seen some trades that appeared to be minor at the time that would end up being regretful for one side.
Let’s take a look at some of the trades you might have glossed over and a couple that you certainly remember. These trades would become more one-sided than they appeared at the time as potential turned into talent and veteran talent turned into a slew of retirements and roster releases. Here are 15 recent NBA trades that have happened since 2014 that teams are already regretting.
15 Orlando Cuts Ties With Channing Frye
In February 2016, the Orlando Magic were trying to get rid of some of their payroll, despite the fact that they had more than enough to work with. With that said, Orlando was willing to get participate in a three team trade with both the Cavaliers and Blazers and so far the Cavaliers have gotten the most out of the deal.
Cleveland landed Channing Frye in the deal, while the Blazers obtained Anderson Varejao only to waive him, saving money in the process. The Magic got Jared Cunningham, who never played a minute with the team and is not in the league currently. They would also end up getting a first round pick from the Cavaliers in 2018, but it’s protected and not likely to be worth much when the time comes. Meanwhile, in a league trending more and more towards the three ball, Frye is one of the best three point shooters in the game.
14 The Magic Moving Tobias Harris
Getting rid of Channing Frye wasn’t the only thing Orlando did to save money last February, as they were also willing to part ways with Tobias Harris. Harris showed a lot of potential for Orlando, but did have a pretty big contract at four years and $64 million. Orlando lost out on a good player, but still ended up paying Bismack Biyombo about the same amount of money during the offseason.
On top of that, the Pistons were able to dump the underwhelming and overpaid player that is Brandon Jennings and departed with Ersan Ilyasova, who has only been shown to be an above average player at times in this trade. Jennings is not with the Magic (he is a member of the Knicks) and Ilyasova is with the 76ers anymore. It was a bit of a lateral move for the Magic, who lost out on a potential star that has not hit his prime just yet. With the Pistons, Harris is averaging a solid 16.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
13 Minnesota Goes for Feel Good Story
The Minnesota Timberwolves weren’t really going anywhere in the 2014-15 NBA season and decided to make a trade to try to get some fans in the stands. Minnesota was willing to get rid of Thaddeus Young so that they could pull in Kevin Garnett, to bring him back to where he was drafted. The Nets were more than happy to get the aging superstar off of their books and they picked up a solid player in Young in doing so.
It’s not as if the move saved any money for Minnesota, either, as they picked up a $12 million salary in the 2014-15 season for Garnett and then paid him $8.5 million the following season. Even though Garnett is now retired, he is still on the board for $8 million in the 2015-16 season. Although Young is no longer a member of either team, you still wonder if the slight increase in tickets was worth it. If they could've hung on to Young, he could've been a solid rotational player for them with their young core.
12 Dallas Tries to Copy Golden State
In sports, there is a bit of a copycat mentality where one team tries to duplicate the success of others by taking some of their talent. We see it all the time in the NFL with Patriots assistant coaches being picked up left and right and the Mavericks tried to follow suit by acquiring some talent from Golden State.
Dallas made an agreement with Golden State to send center and former top draft pick, Andrew Bogut to the Lone Star state in exchange for just a second round pick. However, Bogut hasn’t really shown that he’s worth the $12 million salary that he is collecting, averaging just 3.8 points and 9.9 rebounds early in the 2016-17 season. Meanwhile, the Mavericks spent max money to get Harrison Barnes from Golden State while the Warriors got enough cap space to sign Kevin Durant. Though Barnes has been terrific so far and we're not implying they regret picking him up!
11 Jazz Come Up Short
We head back to February 2015 for our next trade, which was a three-team deal between the Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz. The Pistons would end up getting Reggie Jackson, while the Thunder acquired Enes Kanter, Steve Novak, D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler. Finally, Utah landed Kendrick Perkins, Tibor Pleiss and a protected first round pick in 2017 and a second rounder to go along with it.
The Jazz have not gotten much at all out of the deal and it’s unlikely that their eventual draft pick will pan out. The Thunder didn’t get the best end of the deal as Kanter is the only one still on the team (and a decent player), but the real winner here was the Pistons. Though he is injured right now, Jackson posted a big season for the Pistons in 2015-16, scoring 18.8 points per game to go along with 3.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists.
10 Suns Take Advantage
This is one of those three-team trades where there weren’t really any winners, there was just one team that wasn’t a big loser. The Suns, Bucks and 76ers all got together in 2015 to make a three team trade that sent Michael Carter-Williams, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis to Milwaukee and Brandon Knight to Phoenix. Meanwhile, the 76ers got a draft pick that didn’t turn out to be anything, really.
The 76ers virtually got nothing out of the trade, while the Bucks have gotten poor performances from Michael Carter-Williams and Miles Plumlee. Tyler Ennis isn’t even on their team anymore. The Suns, however, got a solid player in Brandon Knight, who has been averaging nearly 13 points with 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the 2016-17 season, who the Bucks likely wish they would've held on to.
9 Wizards Take a Chance
In February 2016, Markieff Morris got into a scuffle on the bench with Archie Goodwin while he was playing for the Suns. Instead of hoping that the two could get along, Phoenix decided to send him packing, and the Wizards jumped on the opportunity. The Suns sent Morris to D.C. in exchange for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and a protected first round pick in 2016.
Blair has been a non-factor, Humphries isn’t even on the team anymore, so the Suns basically traded Morris for what would end up being Georgios Papagiannis, who they moved to Sacramento. So far, Papagiannis has only played in one game as of November 18th, where he would only get six minutes. There is still time for the Greek product to develop, but Morris has been solid for the Wizards and the Suns likely wish they would've been a little calmer.
8 Nuggets Add a Pair of Valuable Pieces
The Denver Nuggets are fighting like crazy to contend in the nearly impossible Western Conference, so it takes every piece possible to get there. They were able to get some depth from Chicago on draft night in 2014 when they shipped Creighton project Doug McDermott to the Bulls with Anthony Randolph. While McDermott is averaging 10.6 points per game in the 2016-17 season, Randolph is not even in the United States right now.
The Nuggets, on the other hand, would pick up two contributing players, getting Jusuf Nurkic (nearly 10 points and eight rebounds per game) and Gary Harris (10.8 points, 2.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds as of November 18th). McDermott might have a big fan base, but the Nuggets practically got a two-for-one deal in this package and the Bulls, who need some more depth, must be kicking themselves.
7 Nuggets Do It Again
Chicago may have gotten the short end in their deal with Denver in 2014, but that was nothing compared to what the Nuggets did to Portland in February 2015. Denver shipped off veterans Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee for potential, which has fortunately for them, looked promising. Denver would get a 2016 first rounder (Malik Beasley), Thomas Robinson, Victor Claver and Will Barton in the deal.
Beasley is still only 19 years old, but hasn’t shown much in very limited time so far. Robinson and Claver are also no longer with the team, so the real steal of the trade here is Will Barton. Barton emerged as a great bench player in 2015-16 by scoring 14.4 points per game with 5.8 rebounds. He was also off to a hot start this season with 15.3 points and 4.5 boards per game.
6 Hard Times in Hotlanta
Here's how this one goes. The Hawks get Taurean Prince (rookie barely playing), Jazz get George Hill (20.4 pts, 5.0 ast, 2.9 reb so far), Pacers get Jeff Teague (16.0 pts, 6.6 ast, 3.4 reb so far), Hawks still can’t re-sign Al Horford and instead get overpriced Dwight Howard
The Atlanta Hawks were faced with a conundrum going into the summer of 2016 as they had Kent Bazemore and Al Horford eligible for free agency. Atlanta was hoping that they would get both of them back, but only ended up getting Bazemore as Horford signed with Boston. Before that happened, Atlanta tried to shed money to use on Horford, participating in a three team trade with Utah and Indiana.
The Pacers would get a solid player in Jeff Teague, while Utah got the best part of the deal with George Hill. In the end, Atlanta would get Taurean Prince, a rookie that has not seen the court much. So what did they do with all of that extra money? They would end up signing Dwight Howard. While the trade was regretful for Atlanta, they didn’t get it too bad in the long run (so far).
5 Miami Finds Their Point Guard
February 2015 also saw another regretful trade go down and this one was also between three teams. At the time, people thought Miami gave up too much in an effort to get Goran (and brother Zoran) Dragic from the Suns. Phoenix would end up getting a protected 2017 first round pick in 2017 and an unprotected pick in 2021 from Miami, as well as John Salmons. The Pelicans were also part of the deal, getting Justin Hamilton and Shawne Williams.
For the Pelicans, Hamilton has been mediocre, while Cole and Williams aren’t even in the NBA. The Suns also got Danny Granger in the deal, who is also not in the NBA, along with Salmons. The only solid player has been Goran Dragic, who was averaging 16.3 points, 5.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds early in the 2016-17 season. There’s a chance the 2021 pick could be good for Phoenix, but it’s much too early to tell. It could end up being the 30th overall pick, after all.
4 Magic Steal Evan Fournier
We already brought up one trade earlier in the list with Arron Afflalo, whom the Nuggets sent over to Portland as part of the Will Barton deal. Well, before they could do that, they had to get the raw end of a trade with Orlando. The Magic made a deal with Denver back in June 2014 that would send Afflalo to Denver in exchange for Evan Fournier and Roy Devyn Marble.
Fournier appears to be a potential franchise player for Orlando, as he is averaging 16.8 points with 2.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game early in the 2016-17 season. Not only that, but the French product just turned 24 years old, meaning that he has not yet begun to peak. As for Marble, he has gone to Greece, but that’s neither here nor there.
3 Wizards Let Jordan Clarkson Go
How do you get a point guard/shooting guard to help usher in a new era for the Lakers, who have gotten off to a surprising start? It’s simple, you just trade a few bucks over the Washington Wizards. During the 2014 NBA Draft, the Lakers acquired Jordan Clarkson after the Wizards selected him with the 46th overall pick. Since that position usually doesn’t do much, we can’t imagine Washington got a lot of money for the trade.
Clarkson has been a great find for the Lakers, as the 24 year old from Missouri showed a lot of promise in the 2015-16 season with 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, despite Kobe hogging the ball. He’s putting up similar numbers so far this season and looks to be a staple for the team as he signed a new extension.
2 Isaiah Thomas Comes to Boston
The Celtics have really made some teams regret their trades in the past few years, with Brooklyn being among them, but that falls just outside of the time frame that we used. The first of the two heists that Boston has pulled off comes in a three-team deal involving the Suns (yes, them again) and the Pistons. The Pistons got a feel-good story in Tayshaun Prince, but nothing else.
Meanwhile, the Suns would get a 2016 first rounder that turned into Skal Labissiere, but he is now on the Kings. They also got Marcus Thornton, who is an average player for the Wizards right now. Boston landed Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome, but the focal point here is Isaiah Thomas, who has emerged as an absolute star guard in the league. If only the Suns or Kings would have held onto Thomas, they'd be far more competitive today.
1 Rondo Heads to Dallas
The final trade on our list is the other highway robbery that the Celtics committed, and yet another blunder from the Mavericks. Dallas was in desperate need of some point guard play heading into the 2014/15 playoffs, so they traded for Rajon Rondo from Boston, while also receiving Dwight Powell. It was a king’s ransom that they gave up, as well, sending two draft picks to go along with Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson and Jae Crowder.
The Mavericks didn’t get what they needed from Rondo and he was gone after the 2015-16 season after only 46 games. While Wright and Nelson are no longer with Boston, they have the piece they need in Jae Crowder. Crowder would increase his scoring average from 3.6 points per game in Dallas to 14.2 in Boston in his first year, also hauling in 5.1 rebounds per game. His stats so far this year are on par and something Dallas could have used.