The NBA trade deadline can be a time of wonder for franchises and fans. At the same time, it can be a period of frustration and heartache for all parties involved. There are players who we are sure spend deadline day biting down their nails to a stump, hoping they will survive this time. For example, several teams spend their trade deadline day deciding on how they will offload big contracts in order to make room for players in the off-season. These huge contracts they offload usually are players who will eventually be waived by the teams that acquired them. And believe us when we say that being waived is not the best of looks for an NBA player.
The trade deadline is also the place where GM’s and executives shine the most. Sure, free agency is where you sell your pitch to the best players in the world, but the trade deadline is where the real skill of a GM can be recognized. If you are an executive of a team looking for a deep run into the playoffs or even trying for a championship, this is where you get the chance to get rid of the poisonous pieces in your locker room and acquire some talent that might help you go all the way. Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers, it seems like they won the trade deadline this year. One way or the other, several franchises were doomed for their mistakes in this crucial time. And here are 15 of the trades that caused those dooms.
15 Kendrick Perkins To Oklahoma City (2011)
There are many things Oklahoma City Thunder executives have done through the years that could be pointed as the cause of Oklahoma City never winning an NBA championship. There was the decision to let James Harden go among a bunch of others.
The source of all OKC's problems happened during the trade deadline when they decided to trade Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins.
Nate Robinson and Nenad Krstic were also involved in that exchange, but they played minor roles regardless. Either way, this was where OKC derailed. While Green was an amazing complement to the trio of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kevin Durant, Perkins was just terrible.
People blame Westbrook for a lot of bad decisions, but if you watched the entire finals series the following year between OKC and Miami, you saw that the real problem there was Perkins, who was nothing more than dead weight on the court.
14 The Suns Get Shaq (2008)
The Phoenix Suns never had the best of luck when it comes to trades. Actually, they never had the best of luck period. This is a team that always tried hard and seemed to have a shot at winning a championship during the height of the Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire run-and-gun era in Arizona. Nevertheless, those days were gone by the time they decided that adding a 35-year-old Shaquille O’Neal to the mix would be a good idea. The truth here might be that the run-and-gun era in Phoenix ended the day they decided to sign Shaq.
First, because they let Shawn Marion go in that trade. Despite his terrible-looking jump shot, Marion was the glue that held that team together defensively. And finally, you could not expect Shaq to run the floor at 35 years old. It was just a terrible trade.
13 New Orleans Trades Baron Davis To Golden State (2005)
The New Orleans Hornets were only a few years removed from their relocation from Charlotte when they acquired Baron Davis. That happened in 2001, and to this day they have not gone past the second round of the playoffs.
The reason they never got past that round might have been that they traded Baron Davis in his prime to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis.
In case you don’t remember whom either of those was, don’t worry, we didn’t either before doing some research.
Yeah, GMs might say they knew they would draft Chris Paul in the following year’s draft. But at the end of the day what happened is that they traded their best player for nothing. And Davis would go on to lead the Warriors to what was perhaps the most spectacular upset in the history of the NBA, when the eighth-seeded Warriors beat the defending Western Conference champions, Dallas Mavericks.
12 Nerlens Noel To The Mavericks (2017)
Long gone are the days when we could say the Dallas Mavericks were a premier franchise in the NBA. At least, that is the conclusion we have to make when we are talking about a franchise that got played by the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, you got played by Philly, Mark Cuban. Arguably one of the worst draft picks in recent memory, Nerlens Noel never lived up to the talent people thought he had. On the contrary, this guy did little more than getting injured and occasionally get dunked on by smaller guys.
Dallas thought he would be the perfect guy to back up Dirk Nowitzki. But at the end of the day, in two seasons in Dallas, Noel averaged 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds. Philly, on the other hand, got a couple of draft picks and Justin Anderson, who is a solid contributor for that young squad.
11 Ron Artest To The Pacers (2002)
In a basketball sense, this was a solid power-play by the Indiana Pacers. When they traded Travis Best, Norm Richardson, Jalen Rose, and a second-round pick to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Ron Mercer, Brad Miller, Kevin Ollie, and Ron Artest, they laid the foundation for what could have been a championship squad in Indiana. They went as far as the conference finals in 2003-04 and were set to make a run at the championship the next year. Unfortunately, this is where the Artest trade went sour.
Yes, we are talking about the Malice at the Palace incident. Perhaps one of the darkest spots in NBA history, this event was as much Ron Artest’s doing as anyone.
A testament to that is that he was the guy who received the heaviest punishment with a season-long suspension.
10 Clippers Trade Baron Davis To Cleveland And Pick Used To Draft Kyrie Irving (2011)
If we look at this trade from behind the glasses we are wearing today this is nothing short of laughable. But back in 2011, this made sense for the Los Angeles Clippers. They had their eyes set on one target, and his name was Chris Paul. The only way to get Chris Paul was to clear a lot of cap space, which meant trading large contracts like that of Baron Davis, which was not the problem here. The problem was that to get rid of Davis’s contract, the Clippers had to package him with the draft pick the Cleveland Cavaliers turned into Kyrie Irving.
Now we are not claiming that getting Chris Paul was a bad deal. But maybe they could have put something together so they would have both of them. It’s wishful thinking, but just imagine how that would have been.
9 Deron Williams To The Nets (2011)
Oh, we could probably make an entire list out of terrible mistakes made by the Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets. This organization seems hell-bent on not winning anything ever. It is incredible how many mistakes someone can make without getting criminally charged with something. Seriously, it is a crime what they do to Nets’ fans every season.
Just imagine if you were the executive of the worst team in the NBA. What would you do? Prepare for the future or give up everything you have for one All-Star? If you chose the second, you deserve a place in Brooklyn. That was exactly what the Nets did when they acquired Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz. In exchange, they had to give up Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, cash, and a pair of first round picks that became Enes Kanter and Gorgui Dieng.
8 Bulls Give Melo Away To OKC (2017)
Whenever someone mentioned Carmelo Anthony being traded out of New York, the destinations were always Houston or Cleveland. No one talked about Oklahoma City until the trade finally happened.
Let’s just add that Melo to OKC only happened because the Chicago Bulls gave the Thunder the means to do it.
By that we mean they traded Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and a second-round pick to OKC in exchange for Joffrey Lauvergne, Anthony Morrow, and Cam Payne. Sure, we miss the pregame dances between Westbrook and Payne. But at the end of the day, Sam Presti just had to switch Gibson for Enes Kanter in that package, and he turned it into Carmelo Anthony. No, seriously, does anyone have any idea what Chicago wanted with this trade? It still makes no sense.
7 Magic Give Up Tobias Harris (2016)
Another franchise that seems to have an acute sense for making terrible deals is the Orlando Magic. Recently, there was the deal they made with the Detroit Pistons before the 2016 trade deadline. In that deal, they decided to pick up Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova, who are not terrible players. However, in exchange for them, they gave up one of their best young talents in Tobias Harris.
But what made that trade seem much worse than it was is how the Pistons managed to turn it into Blake Griffin. Yes, it is incredible how some franchises can just scam others with trades like these. All the Pistons had to do was pack Harris up along with Avery Bradley, a big center, and a few draft picks, and they got Blake Griffin in return.
6 Phoenix Gives Away Isaiah Thomas (2015)
The man was not even a starter in Phoenix. But it turned out that trading Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics was a terrible deal for the Phoenix Suns. It is not like they knew it at the time, but Isaiah could be the kind of guy to lead a team to a number one seed if the right conditions were met.
The Cleveland Cavaliers found out that the right conditions were that he needed to have the ball all the time and he needed to be healthy. That didn't work for them, so they sent him to L.A. at this year's deadline.
Either way, the deal worked out perfectly for Boston, who only had to give away an old Tayshaun Prince, Marcus Thornton, and a first-round pick that became Skal Labissiere.
Oh yeah, they also turned Thomas into Kyrie Irving a couple of years later.
5 Yet Another Terrible Trade by Phoenix (2015)
Getting rid of their backup point guard who would eventually become an MVP candidate, was not enough for the Phoenix Suns when the 2015 trade deadline came knocking. No, they also got rid of their starting point guard. Many people thought the Miami Heat were done after LeBron James decided to go back to Cleveland. And for all intents and purposes that was partially true. Miami would not make another run at the title. They would, however, find a way to move on from their big three. The answer Pat Riley found was Goran Dragic, who went from being a good player in Phoenix to a team leader in Miami.
All they had to do was give away an aging, past-his-prime Danny Granger, Norris Cole, a couple of role players and a pair of draft picks. It was a gamble by Pat Riley, but it seems like he came out on top on that one.
4 Phoenix Cannot Catch a Break (2004)
This time we are going all the way back to 2003-2004, a season when the Phoenix Suns were gearing up to become the great team they became the season after. They missed the playoffs, but they would eventually get to the Western Conference finals one year later. Nevertheless, if they had just found another way to make this trade work, they might have had a future after the Steve Nash era.
What happened in this trade was that the Utah Jazz sent Ben Handlogten and Keon Clark to Phoenix in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and three draft picks.
At the time, this was not a bad trade for a rebuilding team. Unfortunately for Phoenix, one of the draft picks was the 2010 first-round selection that turned into Gordon Hayward.
3 The Jeff Hornacek Trade (1994)
In 1994, the Philadelphia 76ers completed a trade with the Utah Jazz that ultimately led to Philadelphia becoming one of the worst teams in the NBA for almost half a decade. Meanwhile, the trade turned the Jazz into the one franchise that could go head-to-head with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the mid-'90s.
The deal consisted in Philly sending Jeff Hornacek and Sean Green along with a 2nd-round pick to Utah in exchange for Jeff Malone and a 1st-round pick.
Needless to say, when he got paired up with John Stockton and Karl Malone, Jeff could not have been happier since he would finally have a real shot at a championship. They would never get there, but who could when Jordan was around? Philly, on the other hand, had to wait for the heroics of Allen Iverson in 2001, as the other Jeff (Malone) got injured after a couple years and retired soon after.
2 The Gerald Wallace Trade (2013)
In yet another recent dreadful trade by the Nets, we have a “what could have been” scenario to talk about. The Nets really thought they had a good chance to go far into the playoffs back in 2013. That is the only reason we can imagine for them making the move they did for a guy like Gerald Wallace. No hate for Gerald. The guy was one of the best defenders of his time and even led the NBA in steals during one season.
Nevertheless, this is one of those deals that make us believe that the universe is conspiring against the Nets. Why? Because what they had to trade to Portland in order to get Wallace was not only Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams. No, they also had to give up the first-round pick that became Damian Lillard.
1 The Steve Francis Trade (2006)
We could not finish our list without giving at least a little bit of airtime to the New York Knicks. While their neighbors in Brooklyn might have made some bad deals, the Knicks have always been notorious for their terrible trades.
One of the most infamous trade deadline deals proposed by New York was the deal to bring Steve Francis to the Big Apple.
Nothing wrong with it so far. Steve Francis had always been a great player. A 6’3” athletic guy who could play both guard positions? Sign us up.
The only problem was that they had to give away both Trevor Ariza and Penny Hardaway to Orlando to get this deal done. To make matters even worse, after he arrived in New York, Francis became a shadow of himself. He played two seasons with the Knicks and averaged only 11.1 points per game, while his average in Orlando was 19.4 points per outing.