Basketball is certainly a team sport but it also allows individual players to shine plenty with many possessing enough talent to be solely responsible for the success of a franchise. We have seen it happen plenty of times over the years with lottery teams turning into contenders overnight - thanks to the addition of one player. While having a solid coach and all-around roster is crucial for every team, it all comes down to the elite talent as they usually step up in the postseason to leave their mark.
But as we all know, nearly every NBA trade or signing is a gamble given how unpredictable the league is. There is no guarantee that any player will live up to his contract as they tend to receive massive paychecks for their services. Some of whom end up holding back the franchise for a number of years. There are have also been a number of players who may have had great showings elsewhere in the past, but failed to replicate such performances on their new team, turning into an awful all-around situation for all sides involved.
Throughout history, there have been many All-Stars who may have put up impressive stats during the season, although they failed to pick up victories for the team. On the other hand, some were good enough to transform the culture of the team within a short period of time - establishing the franchise as a contender in their respective conference. Here are 10 player additions that hurt an NBA franchise and 10 that saved it:
20 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Allen Iverson (Detroit Pistons)
After having failed to advance past the Eastern Conference Finals three times in a row, the Detroit Pistons made a move for Allen Iverson by trading away Chauncey Billups. With hopes that Iverson's scoring would be enough to get Pistons back into contention, they were clearly thinking short-term as he had been declining for a number of years. Iverson looked like a shell of himself while playing for the Pistons, and complained as soon as his role was diminished on the roster. The trade cost them the leader of the team and made the franchise into a losing one as it was the beginning of a string of bad moves.
19 Saved It: Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)
While Detroit Pistons were sorely missing the services of Chauncey Billups following the trade for Allen Iverson, the Denver Nuggets were reaping all the benefits. He was able to instantly fit with the team and appeared to be the missing piece as he got the best out of all his teammates, including Carmelo Anthony, who had previously failed to make it past the first round. The Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals that year, falling in six games to the eventual champions in the Lakers. Billups managed to turn the team into a legitimate contender for three years before the core was split up.
18 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Chandler Parsons (Memphis Grizzlies)
The Memphis Grizzlies had a solid run in the early 2010s with a core of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley that led to plenty of surprises. Their best achievement was making it to the Western Conference Finals, and while they always appeared to be close to taking the next major step - the Grizzlies always fell short of their target. That's what led to the Chandler Parsons deal, which was a costly one, to say the least, as the franchise hoped that he would add a consistent three-point shot and some solid defense to the mix. However, he has been warming up the bench since then and stinking it on the court when healthy.
17 Saved It: Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
When the Oklahoma City Thunder landed Paul George in a surprising deal, most fans were ready to immediately declare them as the clear winner of the trade-off. But they hadn't foreseen Victor Oladipo stepping up his game to the next level to become one of the most dominant shooting guards in the game. Early predictions had the Pacers in the lottery but they ended up taking the eventual finalist Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the first round. Oladipo has kept the Pacers as a Playoff contender, and the future is now looking brighter than ever for them thanks to the trade.
16 Hurt An NBA Franchise: DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans)
The duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins was among the most dominant ever on paper. Some fans were ready to immediately list the New Orleans Pelicans as a contender, and while they did go on to have some impressive games together, it never materialized beyond that. Cousins left via free agency in the 2018 offseason after rejecting a Pelicans offer that he deemed unworthy of his talent. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, they had lost out on a brilliant prospect in Buddy Hield in the trade, along with Tyreke Evans and three first-round picks - a trade that has come to backfire on the team.
15 Saved It: Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
The Toronto Raptors had been coasting through the regular season with no hope in sight since 2007 to become a treadmill team. The arrival of Kyle Lowry in 2012 generated some excitement, although it would take him a season and a half to really flourish with the team. And once Rudy Gay was traded away from the team, it allowed Lowry to lead the team which suddenly generated plenty of wins. To this day, Lowry is still leading the way for the Raptors despite the loss of DeMar DeRozan and is arguably playing the best ball of his career, even when Kawhi Leonard sits out.
14 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Dwayne Wade (Chicago Bulls)
Dwyane Wade's move to the Chicago Bulls was surprising in many ways, as most had expected him to remain with the Miami Heat for his entire career. After failing to reach an agreement with the franchise, Wade accepted a generous offer from the Chicago Bulls that was worth two years for $47 million. It would turn out to be his worst year since arriving into the NBA, and there were even bigger problems off the court as he clashed with a number of young players on the roster. Wade's presence to led to plenty of problems behind the scenes and his play was certainly not good enough to justify the signing.
13 Saved It: LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
Kawhi Leonard was declared as the early savior for the San Antonio Spurs, but in a tough Western Conference, the team was always going to need more than one option. As Tim Duncan approached retirement, they acquired LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency, and while he struggled to fit in with the team in his first season, he has returned to form since then. With Leonard's absence last year, Aldridge managed to keep the Spurs a relevant franchise as he led them to the Playoffs. He is having another great year and will likely be enough to keep them in Playoff contention for the time being.
12 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Rajon Rondo (Dallas Mavericks)
Since their 2011 Championship victory, the Dallas Mavericks have disappointed in every season showing. In 2014, it became evident that the Boston Celtics and Rajon Rondo were heading for a divorce, hence why the Mavs made a move to acquire him. The team was expected to challenge in the Western Conference Finals, but the addition of Rondo proved to be a negative one as soon as he hit the court. And it didn't take too long for him to have issues with head coach Rick Carlisle, leading to his exile from the team during the Playoffs after some underwhelming performances.
11 Saved It: LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
LeBron James has saved the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, the first being in 2003 when he was drafted by the team as he turned them into a contender until his departure in 2010. But he was truly the savior in 2014 when he returned to the team, leading them to a championship in 2016. The Cavaliers had been a lottery team since his exit four years earlier, struggling to compete in the Eastern Conference. And while he recently left the team again to join the Los Angeles Lakers, the team did get a lot out of his second stint - four Finals appearance and a championship at last for the fans of Cleveland, who hadn't had a major sports title since 1964.
10 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets)
The Brooklyn Nets had a string of bad moves that could make this list, and they happened around the same time as management was desperate to contend. There is a case to be made for the Gerald Wallace trade in which they gave up a first-round pick that turned out to be Damian Lillard. And of course, you have the infamous trade involving Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but it was the Deron Williams trade that started it all. Not only did it hurt the franchise at the time, but it also damaged their long-term future as the Nets continue struggling to get back on their feet.
9 Saved It: Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers)
In the 2007-08 season, the Los Angeles Lakers were coming off two first round exists as rumors increased regarding a potential move away for Kobe Bryant. The Lakers had been attempting to acquire a second All-Star to convince him of sticking around, and they succeeded in doing when they acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. The trade proved to be moment changing for the franchise as they went on to win two championships while making three Finals. Gasol had a major impact on both ends and was among the best bigs in the league throughout his stint with the Lakers.
8 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Andrew Bynum (Philadelphia Sixers)
In 2012, a major blockbuster deal went down in the NBA sending Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers while Andrew Bynum joined the Philadelphia Sixers. The latter would never dress up for the team as a result of an injury before he eventually exited from the Sixers. To make things worse, the Sixers had to give up Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, and a first-round pick to acquire Bynum - all of these assets which were gone to waste. Given the chance to go back in time, there is no doubt that the Sixers would retract this trade in a moment.
7 Saved It: Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns)
In 2004, the Phoenix Suns appeared to be going nowhere despite having a talented young core. They were coming off a poor season, and the addition of Steve Nash in the offseason didn't exactly change the media's opinion regarding the team. But they went on to prove all doubters wrong with an incredible record of 62-20 to finish the season, as well as an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. Nash would earn two MVP awards during his stint with the Suns while turning them from a lottery team into a contender, making him one of the best additions in NBA history.
6 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Luol Deng (Los Angeles Lakers)
Luol Deng's deal with the Los Angeles Lakers was deemed as a strange one from the very beginning, given that the team was projected to be headed towards the lottery. But management had a different point of view than most and believed that the new additions to the team would combine well with the younger players to make a Playoff push. That proved to be far from the worst as the Lakers fell way short of expectations with Deng having the worst season of his entire NBA career - while being on a costly four year, $72 million contract with the team.
5 Saved It: Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
The Los Angeles Clippers hadn't been able to compete for a Playoff spot for a number of years, but the trade for Chris Paul turned the team into a contender. And while they never reached their full ceiling as a team, the Clippers did have some great regular seasons as well as memorable Playoffs showings against the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. Paul made them a relevant franchise for the first time in a long period as they appeared to be going nowhere prior to his acquisition. He ended up assisting Blake Griffin in becoming a star as well.
4 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
To his credit, Carmelo Anthony did have some good early years with the New York Knicks. But considering the massive contract that he earned from the team, and how his last few seasons ended, it's safe to say that he did more damage than good for the franchise. Not to mention that he was persistent in joining the Knicks mid-season, forcing them to give up plenty of assets to acquire him when they could have reached a deal in the offseason. The Melo deal was a costly mistake by the Knicks that didn't bring any success beyond a second round appearance.
3 Saved It: Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics)
When the Boston Celtics finished the 2006-07 season with a record of 24-58, there were talks about the franchise firing head coach Doc Rivers and trading their star player, Paul Pierce. But the offseason proved to be a fruitful one as they acquired Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics and Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves to form the Big 3 era. Garnett was the Celtics' best player during their run despite not picking up the 2008 Finals MVP award. His impact was massive on both ends as he led the Celtics to become one of the better defensive sides.
2 Hurt An NBA Franchise: Gilbert Arenas (Washington Wizards)
Gilbert Arenas' first chapter with the Washington Wizards had some bright moments, including three All-Star appearances, but it soon turned into a poor fit as he became the worst contract in the league, thanks to an extension of $111 million for six years. It was a disaster waiting to happen since Arenas had injury problems and yet the Wizards still handed him an extension. The next season, he would only appear in two games while playing a combined of 53 games for the next two years. That's not to mention the locker room incident which set back the Wizards even further.
1 Saved It: Jason Kidd (Brooklyn Nets)
Known now as the Brooklyn Nets, Jason Kidd was acquired by New Jersey in 2001 in hopes of turning the franchise into a Playoff team. The move certainly paid off as Kidd led the Nets to a Finals appearance that very same year while finishing second in the MVP race. The team was coming off three losing seasons in a row, so it was a major turnaround that happened quickly thanks to Kidd's massive contributions on both ends. The team continued making the Playoffs and making noise in the Eastern Conference until his exit from the team, and while they fell short of winning a championship, the Nets did achieve success.