Not only are the Los Angeles Lakers considered to be among the most prestigious teams in all sports, but they also happen to rank high in popularity. The franchise has been home to so many great players over the past few decades, and the trend continues with LeBron James having joined them earlier this summer. Following some rough years in the lottery, the Lakers are finally getting back up on their feet - generating plenty of interest among fans once again.
And despite having won 16 championships starting in 1949 and their latest being 2010, Lakers have also had some blunders along the way. It is only natural in the NBA as every team has made bad trades, signings and draft picks. And while most teams tend to pay dearly for those crucial mistakes, Lakers have somewhat managed to get away with most of these - thanks to the franchise always being home to at least one of the best players in the league.
While fans always speak about the greatest players that suited up for the Lakers, including Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and many more - we cannot ignore the other side of the business that hasn't been quite storied. As you will come to learn through this list, many of the Lakers' biggest blunders have come in modern history - some of which they are still paying for as of today. Here are 7 bad trades, 7 bad signings and 7 bad draft picks made by the Los Angeles Lakers.
21 Bad Trade: Shaquille O'Neal For Lamar Odom, Caron Butler And Brian Grant
The most unstoppable force in the NBA had hit a rough patch beyond any hopes of reconciliation when it was evident that the Lakers had to make a decision between the younger Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. As one would expect, they ended up dealing O'Neal - sending him to the Miami Heat in a deal in which Lakers received Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant. Odom would end up having some great years for the Lakers, while Butler would be traded shortly afterwards - where he flourished for the Washington Wizards. As for Grant, he was done by the time he joined the Lakers. It was a lopsided deal that angered plenty of Lakers supporters.
20 Bad Signing: Timofey Mozgov
Fans couldn't make much sense out of the Los Angeles Lakers' decision to hand Timofey Mozgov a six year contract that was worth $64 million. Following just one season with the team, he didn't justify such an outrageous number for his services. And while that summer brought some inflated contracts, it doesn't excuse management from handing out the worst contract in modern Lakers history. Mozgov has been traded three times since then and is now a member of the Orlando Magic - as he continues to pick up an enormous paycheck with very little contribution on the court.
19 Bad Draft Pick: Javaris Crittenton
With the 19th pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Javaris Crittenton - who is likely the biggest bust in the team's modern history. Drafted ahead of the likes of Jared Dudley, Wilson Chandler, and Rudy Fernandez - Crittenton would only play for 22 games in which he disappointed before being shipped out of town in a package for Pau Gasol. These days, Crittenton isn't just known as a bust in the prestigious history of the franchise, but also due to his involvement in an incident with Gilbert Arenas during his time with the Washington Wizards.
18 Bad Trade: Four Draft Picks For Steve Nash
He may be one of the greatest point guards of all-time, but Steve Nash joined the Los Angeles Lakers a few years too late. At the time, Lakers were attempting to build a super team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Nash - which ended up being disastrous. Nash had nagging injuries during the course of his two final years as he only played in 65 games for the Lakers. To make matters worse, Lakers had given up four draft picks for Nash, including two first round picks - which clearly backfired in the long run.
17 Bad Signing: Luol Deng
From a two-time NBA All-Star to an afterthought, Luol Deng's career has suffered plenty since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016. He has only played 57 games for the team thus far - including just one appearance last season before the team shut him down for the remainder of the year. Deng was signed on a four year deal for $72 million, which ended up being a total waste of money for the team. As Deng continues to get paid for warming the bench, there are rumors that his tenure with the team could come to an end soon.
16 Bad Draft Pick: Brian Cook
The 2003 NBA Draft had plenty of buzz as it was stacked with great talents. And while the Lakers had the 24th pick of the draft, they had the opportunity to get one of Josh Howard, Leandro Barbosa or Carlos Delfino - all of whom were taken immediately after Brian Cook. Needless to say, it didn't take too long for fans to realize that it was a bad pick as Cook failed to prove himself despite being given plenty of chances to do so. After five forgettable seasons, Cook was traded to the Orlando Magic - where he failed to change his reputation as a bust.
15 Bad Trade: Nick Van Exel For Tony Battie And Tyronn Lue
When the Showtime Lakers era came to an end, the franchise decided to build the team around Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones until the duo of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant came around. Van Exel impressed early on, making an All-Star appearance while playing for the Lakers. But it was his questionable attitude that got him shipped out of town, as he had fallen out with nearly every important member of the team from players to coaching staff. It seems like the Lakers were desperate to trade him away from the team considering the terrible package they accepted from Denver Nuggets in Tony Battie and Tyronn Lue.
14 Bad Signing: Dennis Rodman
Fresh off a three year stint with the Chicago Bulls, Dennis Rodman joined the Los Angeles Lakers on their quest to win a championship in 1999. But it didn't quite pan out the way everyone was hoping as Rodman would only suit up for 23 games prior to his release. He had been criticized by management for his unprofessional behavior during his brief time with the team, although Rodman has fired back by claiming that he couldn't stand being around Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant who always clashed behind the scenes. Needless to say, the signing hurt the Lakers' chemistry in a year which expectations were high.
13 Bad Draft Pick: David Rivers
David Rivers was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 25th pick in 1988 - although he wouldn't even play a full season for the team. He would go on to join the Clippers for the next season, playing only 3 years overall in the NBA. Despite being labelled a bust in the league, Rivers was able to turn his career around once he went to Europe as he became among the best players abroad. He picked up many trophies along the way, including MVP and top scorer awards. Unfortunately for him, he didn't show nearly as much greatness while playing for the Lakers.
12 Bad Trade: The Infamous Dwight Howard Trade
There was a time when Dwight Howard was considered among the best players in the league as he led the Orlando Magic to the 2009 Finals. After making it clear that he wanted a move away from the team, the Los Angeles Lakers made a run for him in a four team deal that brought Howard over to join Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. It ended up being the most disappointing season in franchise history - made only worse by Howard's decision to leave in the offseason. To this day, fans are still frustrated with the trade as well as Howard for not re-signing with LA.
11 Bad Signing: Vlade Divac
When Shaquille O'Neal left the Lakers, he left a huge void as one would expect. In hopes of replacing some of his production, the team brought back Vlade Divac who had previously been a member in the 90s. Signed for $10 million over two years, Divac would battle nagging injuries during his stint with the Lakers as he only ended up playing in 15 games. He would end up retiring at the end of the season as he couldn't get fully healthy to get back on the court. Looking back, the Lakers would probably not have spent $10 million for his services.
10 Bad Draft Pick: Mark Madsen
Mark Madsen was fortunate enough to be drafted into a great situation as he joined the Los Angeles Lakers - where he would win two championships. Madsen wasn't exactly a decisive factor as he failed to really live up to the expectations some fans had for him. While he only averaged 11 minutes in his three seasons, Madsen was still a part of the Lakers dynasty even if he may be forgotten by now. He would join the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2003 where he remained until the end of his career - as his minutes got fewer with every passing year.
9 Bad Trade: Adrian Dantley For Spencer Haywood
If you ask older fans, it is highly likely that they will list this trade as the absolute worst in the history of the Lakers. Although Spencer Haywood was a great player in his prime, he didn't have much gas left in the tank by the time he arrived in Los Angeles in 1979. He would only play one season for the team before leaving following some controversy with the coach. As for Adrian Dantley, his move to Utah Jazz would prove to be a career changer as he became a six time NBA All-Star.
8 Bad Signing: Luke Walton
Luke Walton spent nine years with the Los Angeles Lakers as the team retained his services in 2006 for a hefty contract of $30 million for six years. Although he was coming off his best statistical year in the league, Walton would never come close to reaching those numbers again. In fact, he became a running joke as the cheerleader for the team as Walton won two championship rings without contributing much on the court. He was also facing some injuries that put him out of action for most of the next two seasons, hindering his level of play even further.
7 Bad Draft Pick: George Lynch
In the 90s and 2000s, the Los Angeles Lakers didn't have too many high draft picks - which is why George Lynch stands out as one of the worst picks in franchise history. Selected with the 12th pick of the 1993 draft, Lynch would play for three years for the Lakers before he was eventually traded to the Vancouver Grizzlies. It was the very same trade that allowed the Lakers to land Shaquille O'Neal as they needed to clear cap space in order to sign him. Despite being a bust, Lynch was still indirectly an important piece in Lakers history.
6 Bad Trade: Caron Butler And Chucky Atkins For Kwame Brown
When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for arguably the biggest bust in modern history, they were hoping to get his career back on track. Following a disappointing season, the team needed to make changes, so they sent Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins for Kwame Brown. They gave away a serviceable player in Atkins, as well as a future All-Star in Butler for Brown, who would fail to shed the bust label during his stint with the Lakers. It is undoubtedly one of the worst trades in Lakers history that served absolutely no purpose for the team.
5 Bad Signing: Gary Payton
When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Karl Malone and Gary Payton, everyone had declared them as the winners before the season began. And while the former was still useful during his time in LA during the playoffs, the same cannot be said about Payton who struggled to fit in with the team. Some fans argue that the team would have been better off without Payton, who was a disappointment on the court. Although he took a paycut to join the team, Payton still failed to live up to the expectations of assisting the team in capturing yet another title.
4 Bad Draft Pick: Kenny Carr
Younger fans may not know Kenny Carr since it's been 30 years since he retired from the game. But as the sixth pick of the 1977 draft, there were high expectations for Carr who failed to live up to the hype. Following a two year stint with the franchise, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was certainly the biggest draft bust of the Lakers during that era - but thankfully for him, most fans have either forgotten about him or don't even know him. Considering his unimpressive stint, that's not exactly the worst thing in the world.
3 Bad Trade: Eddie Jones For Glen Rice, J.R. Reid And B.J. Armstrong
Eddie Jones had some impressive years for the Los Angeles Lakers prior to his trade to the Charlotte Hornets. Once the Lakers failed to reach expectations in 1999, the team decided to reshuffle the roster by making some moves - and Jones was traded for Glen Rice, J.R. Reid and B.J. Armstrong. Fans were far from pleased at the time as Jones had gained popularity due to his style of play - and they became even more frustrated when the new players failed to make an impact. Even if the organization intended to trade Jones, they could have certainly received a better offer.
2 Bad Signing: Steve Blake
When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Steve Blake to a four-year contract that's worth $16 million - they knew what to expect from him. Considering his lack of production for the team, it ended up being a waste of money as Blake stuck around for four years without giving the team much in return. And in his two final years, he spent plenty of time warming the bench as he had a number of injuries. Fans were glad when Blake was traded away from the team in 2014, as he had become a liability by then who clearly didn't have much gas left in the tank.
1 Bad Draft Pick: Sam Jacobson
Drafted with the 26th pick of the 1998 draft, Sam Jacobson had a great opportunity to be a part of the future dynasty Lakers team. Like so many late picks taken by the Lakers, Jacobson would turn out to be a bust with many notable names taken after him, including Rashard Lewis. He would only appear in five games as a member of the Lakers before the team deemed that he wasn't good enough to remain on the roster. The remainder of his NBA career wasn't exactly much better and Jacobson soon ended up playing in Europe.