Every NBA Team's Biggest Mistake Of The Last Decade

Every major sports franchise, even the ones who are considered to be model franchises, will make a mistake from time to time, and this is no different in the NBA.

When you're trading players, drafting players, or signing players to big money contracts, you're always taking a huge risk simply because you don't know what you're going to get until you have it.

Throughout the last decade, we've seen NBA teams give out horrible contracts, make bad trades, and completely blow it during draft night. While it often times does take a few years for an NBA team to realize that they've made a horrible mistake, there are the rare times when people around the league, pundits, and fans alike immediately know that a team has made a bad move.

Sure, some mistakes aren't as costly as others, and while teams like the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs have routinely made good moves, they're not always immune to mistakes via trades or free agency.

So, with all this in mind, let's take a look at every NBA team's biggest mistake over the last decade, starting with the Washington Wizards, and ending with the Atlanta Hawks. So, let's get started!

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

30 Washington Wizards - The Gilbert Arenas Contract

via bulletsforever.com

While Gilbert Arenas did have a ton of success with the Washington Wizards, as some people called him the Kobe Bryant of the eastern conference, the DC-based team made a huge mistake when they decided to sign him to a six-year deal, where he'd make a total of $111 million. Arenas was then traded shortly after signing the deal, as he was sent to Orlando in exchange for Rashard Lewis's exorbitant contract. The "Hibachi" was essentially out of the league shortly thereafter, as he could never stay healthy for an extended period of time.

29 Utah Jazz - Letting Gordon Hayward Go To Boston

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

While Gordon Hayward hasn't done much in Boston due to a pretty severe injury he went down with in the first game of last season, the belief is that he'll return to form in the upcoming season, as he's part of arguably the best team in the eastern conference. However, the Jazz letting Hayward go to Boston was a huge mistake, as they could've paired the All-Star forward with future superstar Donovan Mitchell. Instead, Mitchell is really the only offensive threat the team has, which will probably do them no favors during the upcoming season.

28 Toronto Raptors - Signing Hedo Turkoglu

via sportsnet.ca

To be fair, at the time, this seemed like a good move by the Raptors, as Hedo Turkoglu was an essential part of the Orlando Magic's run to the NBA finals back in 2009, and because of that, Canada's sole NBA franchise signed the forward to a $53 million, five-year contract. To say the least, Turkoglu didn't live up to his end of the bargain, as he was essentially useless during his time with the Raptors.

27 San Antonio Spurs - Signing Richard Jefferson

via zimbio.com

The San Antonio Spurs haven't made many mistakes over the last decade, but one that jumps out is trading for, and re-signing Richard Jefferson, which at the time seemed like a good move. However, the former All-Star forward didn't exactly live up to the hype, as he was relatively ineffective during his time with the team. In fact, he only spent one and a half seasons with the team before he was shipped off to Golden State in exchange for Stephen Jackson.

26 Sacramento Kings - Trading DeMarcus Cousins For Buddy Hield

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins's run with the Sacramento Kings probably lasted longer than it should have, as the superstar player was constantly a part of one of the league's most incompetent franchises, so it wasn't a surprise when word got out that he wanted to be moved. So the Kings ended up trading him to New Orleans in exchange for Buddy Hield, who is a fine player, but it's pretty safe to say that the team didn't get equal value when they decided to ship Cousins to the Pelicans.

25 Portland Trail Blazers - Signing Evan Turner

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

After essentially striking out in free agency a few summers ago, the Portland Trail Blazers, in a desperate move to add someone new to their lineup, decided to offer former number two overall pick Evan Turner a big money contract, which has pretty much prohibited the team from doing anything in free agency. Of course, Turner's contract could be a pretty good trade asset next season, as it'll expire at the end of the 2019-2020 NBA season. So, there is a chance that they could flip his expiring contract for a better player, but until they do, signing him to a big money deal will remain a huge mistake.

24 Phoenix Suns - Getting Rid Of Isaiah Thomas

via si.com

Former MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas had a great run during his time in Phoenix, but when the team was forced to decide between keeping either Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, or Isaiah Thomas, they decided to send Thomas to the Boston Celtics, where he, as previously mentioned, became a candidate for the league's most valuable player award. Of course, Thomas did end up getting hurt during his big year in Boston, so he's definitely not the player he once was. But, who knows what would've happened if they would've kept him around and paired him with Devin Booker.

23 Philadelphia 76ers - Acquiring Andrew Bynum

via sbnation.com

When the Philadelphia 76ers acquired All-Star center Andrew Bynum back in 2012, he was supposed be one of the franchise's cornerstone pieces, as they gave up the then All-Star forward Andre Iguodala in a four-team deal to acquire to former Los Angeles Lakers big man. Bu, Bynum never ended up playing a single game for the Sixers, as he spent his time on the sidelines due to a knee injury, and just one season later, he was out of the league after a few short runs with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers.

22 Orlando Magic - Drafting Mario Hezonja

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Back in 2015, the Orlando Magic decided to draft Croatian forward Mario Hezonja with the fifth overall pick while players like Devin Booker, Justise Winslow, and Myles Turner will still available. After just three seasons with the Magic where he never averaged more than 9 points per game, Hezonja left the team and joined the New York Knicks over the summer, where he'll probably get plenty of opportunities due to Kristaps Porzingis being injured.

21 Oklahoma City Thunder - Trading James Harden To Houston

via nba.com

Arguably the biggest mistake of the entire decade was made by the Oklahoma City Thunder when they sent James Harden to Houston in exchange for Kevin Martin. Sure, Marin was a serviceable player, but he certainly wasn't the caliber of player that Harden was, even at the time. It probably goes without saying that if the Thunder would've held onto Harden, then Kevin Durant wouldn't have ended up leaving, and maybe we'd be talking about OKC as the best team of the decade instead of Golden State.

20 New York Knicks - Drafting Jordan Hill

via nba.com

The New York Knicks, who had the ninth pick back in the 2009 NBA draft, decided to select Arizona big man Jordan Hill, who didn't end up accomplishing much of anything during his time in the league. What's worse than that is, DeMar Derozan was selected with the very next pick, and went on to become one of the league's elite players, as the Raptors were regularly one of the best teams in the conference. Perhaps the Knicks wouldn't be the laughing stock of the NBA if they would've drafted Derozan instead, as they could've paired him with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudamire.

19 New Orleans Pelicans - Jrue Holiday Contract

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When he's healthy, New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday can be one of the most effective players at his position in the league. However, the big problem is, the former All-Star point guard has never been healthy on a consistent basis during his time in the league. But while knowing this, the Pelicans still signed him to a five-year contract, where he would earn nearly $30 million per year, which has completely destroyed their short-term future, which might lead the team's star Anthony Davis to demand a trade in the upcoming season.

18 Minnesota Timberwolves - Passing On Stephen Curry

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves did have the opportunity to draft Stephen Curry, who has turned into one of the all-time greats, but instead they drafted Jonny Flynn, who essentially accomplished nothing during his NBA career. To be fair to Flynn, he did have some injury issues, and had he not gotten hurt, he might've become a pretty good player. However, it's unlikely that he would've ended up being on the same level as possibly the best shooter in NBA history.

17 Milwaukee Bucks - Drafting Joe Alexander

via jgoodwithsports.com

Back in 2008, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to draft forward Joe Alexander with the 8th overall pick, as they passed on Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, and Roy Hibbert. It didn't take long for the franchise to realize that drafting Alexander was a mistake, as they shipped him off to Chicago after he played just 59 games for the team. He didn't do much for the Bulls either, as he averaged less than one point per game in the 8 games that he appeared in, and he was completely out of the league shortly thereafter.

16 Miami Heat - Drafting Michael Beasley

via hothothoops.com

At the time, taking Michael Beasley with the second overall pick behind Derrick Rose seemed like a good move. But, fast forward just a few years later, and it was clearly a mistake, as they could've drafted Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love instead. Sure, Beasley has a had a decent NBA career, but he clearly never lived up to his potential, as he's bounced around the league over the last couple of seasons, but he's never been more than a good role player.

15 Memphis Grizzlies - Drafting Hasheem Thabeet

via bealestreetbears.com

Yet another second overall pick who didn't work out. The Memphis Grizzlies decided to draft center Hasheem Thabeet back in 2009 over James Harden and Stephen Curry. The former Connecticut big man didn't do much of anything in the league, as he was essentially out of the NBA in less than five years. Of course, the team did end up getting a quality center in Marc Gasol shortly thereafter, but that doesn't discount the mistake, as they could've paired Gasol with either Harden or Curry.

14 Los Angeles Lakers - Acquiring Steve Nash

via sbnation.com

Steve Nash had a fantastic NBA career, but by the time the Lakers acquired the former two-time league MVP, it was quite clear that his time as one of the NBA's elite players had come to an end. Likely due to his age, Nash had a hard time staying healthy, and he retired just a few years later. Back when the Lakers acquired him, it looked like they were set for at least another championship run, as their starting lineup was going to consist of Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard. But, the potential super team was never able to stay healthy.

13 Los Angeles Clippers - Trading The Kyrie Irving Pick

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Clippers decided to send away Baron Davis and his massive contract, they also included a draft pick, which they sent to Cleveland in exchange for Jamario Moon and Mo Williams. Unfortunately for the Clippers, the pick ended up being Kyrie Irving. So, while it was their goal to get rid of Baron Davis's massive salary, they had to be kicking themselves when the pick they included in the deal ended up being the multiple-time All-Star.

12 Indiana Pacers - Trading Kawhi Leonard For George Hill

via ksat.com

With the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Indiana Pacers selected future finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who they quickly traded to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for veteran point guard George Hill. This was a huge blunder, as Leonard became arguably the best defensive player in the league, and if he was paired with Paul George, who was the team's starting small forward at the time, the Pacers probably would've been nearly unstoppable. Unfortunately for Indiana fans, they ever go to see the pair in action. They did, however, have some success with George Hill, but not enough to make up for the fact that they traded a player who would go on to become one of the best five players in the league.

11 Houston Rockets - Acquiring Dwight Howard

via si.com

Since being traded by the Orlando Magic back in 2012, former All-Star center Dwight Howard has struggled to find a home, as he's played for 5 different teams (Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards) over the last six seasons. His longest run with a team since being traded by Orlando was the three seasons he spent in Houston, where he had a good run on paper, but he was by all accounts a cancer in the locker room. He's reportedly been the same in every other locker room since then, which is why he's spent no more than one season with each team since.

10 Golden State Warriors - Hiring Mark Jackson

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors haven't made a ton of mistakes over the last decade, as they've become the best team of their generation, and one of the best teams of all-time. However, it did take them a while to get there, and part of the problem was their coach, former New York Knicks point guard Mark Jackson, who wanted the team to play at a slower, more methodical pace. The team eventually fired Jackson even though they were a playoff team, and subsequently hired Steve Kerr, who obviously knew the team's strengths and weaknesses.

9 Detroit Pistons - Acquiring Josh Smith

via sbnation.com

Josh Smith is one of the worst three point shooters in NBA history, and while he did have some success during his time with the Atlanta Hawks, the Pistons deciding to pair him with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond didn't make any sense. Of course, Smith's time with the Detroit didn't last long, as he wasn't a great fit for the team, especially when he was on the court with Andre Drummond, who isn't much of an offensive threat himself. The Pistons have made a few bad moves over the last decade, but this one takes the cake!

8 Denver Nuggets - Trading The Donovan Mitchell Pick

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Denver Nuggets have a pretty deep roster, and they have a competent shooting guard in Gary Harris, it's probably pretty safe to assume that the team wishes that they wouldn't have traded the pick that ended up being Donovan Mitchell, who's probably the best player of his draft class, to their division rival the Utah Jazz. Some are predicting that Mitchell will be the second coming of Dwyane Wade, and if that ends up being true, then this trade will haunt the Nuggets for the next several years.

7 Dallas Mavericks - Trading For Lamar Odom

via thebiglead.com

During his run with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lamar Odom was one of the most dangerous and versatile players in the entire league. But, that quickly changed after the Dallas Mavericks acquired his services right after they won their first NBA championship. Odom didn't end up doing much for the Mavs, as he spent some time down in the D-league, and after clashing with team management, he was let go by mid-season. What makes it worse is that the Mavs gave up a first-round draft pick in exchange for Odom, which was clearly a mistake in hindsight.

6 Cleveland Cavaliers - Drafting Anthony Bennett

via fearthesword.com

To be fair, the 2013 NBA draft class wasn't exactly loaded with talent, but even with that being the case, it was still surprising when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick, especially when you consider the fact that they could've ended up with Victor Oladipo instead. After a less than memorable stint with the Cavs, Bennett was traded, and just a few years after he was drafted, he was out of the league completely, making him arguably the worst number one overall pick of all time.

5 Chicago Bulls - Trading Jimmy Butler For Zach LaVine & Kris Dunn

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps this move will end up working out for the Chicago Bulls, but it's a surprise when you consider how little the Bulls got back in return for All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler, as they took back Kris Dunn, who was coming off of a disappointing rookie season, and Zach LaVine, who had just gone down with a torn ACL. You would think that the team could've gotten a lot more back went they sent Butler away, but again, there's still a chance that this will end up working out for the Bulls.

4 Charlotte Hornets - Acquiring Dwight Howard

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

After spending just one season with his hometown team the Atlanta Hawks, Dwight Howard ended up on the Charlotte Hornets, where he continued to be his usual self. After just one year with the team, the Hornets decided to trade him to the Brooklyn Nets, where he was promptly bought out. During his time with the Hornets, Howard put up good numbers, but his usual poor attitude weighed the team down, which is ultimately why they got rid of him just one year after acquiring his services.

3 Brooklyn Nets - Trading The Damian Lillard Pick

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets might be the worst run team of this entire decade, as they essentially traded away all of their draft picks in order to acquire veteran players who ended up being pretty ineffective for them. Arguably the biggest mistake of all is when they traded the pick that would eventually become Damian Lillard to Portland in exchange for Gerald Wallace. The mistake was apparent right away, as Lillard stole the Rookie of the Year award from Anthony Davis, and quickly became one of the most potent offensive point guards in the league.

2 Boston Celtics - Drafting Fab Melo & Jared Sullinger

via registercitizen.com

Back in 2012, the Boston Celtics had two straight selections late in the first round where they selected two big men, Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Fab Melo of Syracuse. Both big men ended up being non-factors for the Celtics going forward, as they both struggled with injury issues, to the point that they were both out of the league just a few short years later. Typically the Celtics are pretty good at finding good prospects in the draft, but they definitely missed the boat back in 2012.

1 Atlanta Hawks - Joe Johnson Contract

via sbnation.com

Joe Johnson had a pretty good run during his time with the Atlanta Hawks, but was it good enough to earn him a six-year, $124 million contract? Probably not, especially when you consider the fact that the team never ended up doing much with him as their best player. Sure, they routinely made the playoffs, but they never ended up doing much of anything once they got there, and Johnson's contract prohibited them from going out and getting another star who would help them get over the hump in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

More in NBA