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The Biggest Mistake In The History Of Each NBA Franchise

Even the most well-run NBA franchises are likely to make a mistake from time to time, although some mistakes are a lot more costly than others.

Teams like the New Orleans Pelicans are facing a difficult decision right now, as they've gotten off to a rather rocky start this season, which could force them to move Anthony Davis before this year's or next year's trade deadline.

If the Pelicans do end up moving Davis, it could potentially cost the city of New Orleans to lose its team, as the former multi-time All-Star is the only reason why there is a professional basketball team in Louisiana. So, we could see a gigantic mistake be made by the franchise over the next year or two.

Facing difficult decisions is something that every NBA general manager has to deal with at one time or another, but some of them fare a lot better when faced with a challenging task than others, and as we've seen in the past, a bad move by an NBA executive could set a team back a few years, like what Brooklyn did when they traded away all of their first-round picks to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

So, with all that in mind, here are the biggest mistakes in the history of each NBA franchise.

30 Atlanta Hawks - Joe Johnson Contract

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On July 8, 2010, the Atlanta Hawks decided to offer a gigantic contract to their former All-Star forward/guard Joe Johnson, it was a six-year deal worth a grand total of $123.7 million. But after it was pretty clear that Johnson was no longer the player that he was when he signed the deal, the Hawks decided to blow it up, as they traded the former All-Star to the Brooklyn Nets just two years after signing him to a massive contract extension. But if it weren't for the newly purchased Brooklyn Nets trying to be good right away, Atlanta might've been stuck with the contract for the six-year duration.

29 Boston Celtics - Breaking Up Pierce And Walker

via Boston Globe

During the 2003-04 NBA season, despite making the All-Star team that year, the Boston Celtics decided to trade Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks, thus breaking up the dynamic duo that the team had with Walker and Paul Pierce. Then, the following season, after it was quite clear that giving Walker up was the wrong move, the team re-acquired him via a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, but when they got him back and paired him with Pierce. The magic wasn't there anymore, and he was gone after less than one season with the team.

28 Brooklyn Nets - Trading The Damian Lillard Pick

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In an effort to try and be a contender right away, the Brooklyn Nets along with their new owner were willing to give up a ton of first round picks in exchange for veterans, and one of these cases saw the Nets trading a first-round pick to Portland for an aging Gerald Wallace, who never quite fit in with the Blazers. But the biggest problem with that trade is that the first rounder ended up being none other than Damian Lillard, who has become one of the ten best players in the league, and one of the three or four best point guards in the NBA.

27 Charlotte Hornets - Trading Kobe Bryant For Vlade Divac

via Los Angeles Times

It's odd to think that Kobe Bryant once belonged to another organization, even if it wasn't for long. Shortly after taking Bryant with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets decided to make a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers where they'd send Kobe to LA in exchange for Vlade Divac. Sure, at the time, nobody knew that Kobe was going to be an all-time great, and also at the time, Divac was a pretty good center. But it didn't take long for the Hornets to realize that they'd made a mistake, as Kobe made his first All-Star team just a year later, and four years later he was winning his first championship alongside Shaquille O'Neal.

26 Chicago Bulls - Breaking Up The Team After '98 Title Win

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Who knows why the Chicago Bulls were so eager to break up a dynasty after their 1998 NBA Finals win over the Utah Jazz, but it was a decision that set the team back several years, as they were the laughing stock of the league after Michael Jordan retired and Scottie Pippen was traded. It was quite clear that Pippen still had quite a bit left in the tank, and Jordan probably continued after the 1998 season as well. But, for whatever reason, the team's ownership wanted to go young, so they decided to break up the best team of the '90s to do so.

25 Cleveland Cavaliers - Picking Anthony Bennett #1

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At the time, nobody could really explain why the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to pick Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and it didn't take long for it to look like a huge mistake. Sure, that year's draft wasn't exactly loaded with star power, but they could've had Victor Oladipo, who would've fit nicely alongside Kyrie Irving and the soon to be returning LeBron James. But instead, the team decided to take a big chance, and it was one that clearly didn't pay off, as Bennett is no longer in the league, at least as of this writing.

24 Dallas Mavericks - Letting Tyson Chandler Go

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After surprising the world by defeating LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade in the 2011 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks decided to let Tyson Chandler, who was an essential part of their title win, go to the New York Knicks via free agency, thus meaning that the Mavs wouldn't be given a proper chance at defending their title. Of course, they might not have won back-to-back titles, but the team should've at least given Dirk and his crew a chance to properly defend their championship during the 2011-12 NBA season.

23 Denver Nuggets - Drafting Raef LaFrentz In 1998

via clutchpoints.com

The third pick in the 1998 NBA Draft belonged to the Denver Nuggets, who decided to pass on several other future stars in order to draft Raef LaFrentz. Among the players they passed up on are Antawn Jamison (who was picked fourth), Vince Carter (who was picked fifth), Dirk Nowitzki (who was picked ninth), and Paul Pierce (who was picked tenth). LaFrentz did go on to have a serviceable NBA career, but he didn't accomplish anything near the level of what Jamison, Carter, Dirk, and Pierce did during their careers.

22 Detroit Pistons - Drafting Darko Over Carmelo, Wade, And Bosh

via Sports Illustrated

Not picking Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or Carmelo Anthony in the 2003 NBA Draft didn't end up hurting the Detroit Pistons in the short term, as the won the NBA championship the following season. But in the long term, it definitely hurt the team. If they would've taken Wade, Carmelo, or Bosh instead of Darko Milicic, perhaps their one title would've turned into two, three, or even four before the team was disbanded a few years later. But hey, at least drafting the foreign big man didn't prevent them from getting at least one NBA title.

21 Golden State Warriors - Trading Mitch Richmond

via hoopshabit.com

For some of the younger fans out there, the Golden State Warriors weren't always a great organization that was a championship contender year after year, but if they would've kept their core three players -- Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin, and Tim Hardaway -- together then perhaps the trio could've been a Finals contender for years to come. But instead, in 1991, the team decided to trade Richmond to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for young forward Billy Owens, who was the Kings' No. 3 overall draft pick that year, and ultimately a bust of sorts. They were eventually able to replace Richmond with Latrell Sprewell, but even that wasn't enough to get them over the hump.

20 Houston Rockets - Acquiring Dwight Howard

via Sports Illustrated

After Dwight Howard was traded by the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012, it seems that every team that has acquired him has run into an abundance of issues with the former All-Star and MVP candidate, and the Houston Rockets were no different. Howard spent just three seasons in Houston, and even though on paper it looks like he had a good three years there, he clearly wasn't the player he was during his time in Orlando, and on top of that, he caused headache after headache for the organization. So, clearly, the Dwight experiment didn't work out well for the Rockets.

19 Indiana Pacers - Trading Kawhi Leonard For George Hill

via KSAT.com

Back when the Indiana Pacers were one of the best teams in the east with the trio of Lance Stephenson, Roy Hibbert, and Paul George running the show, they could've added Kawhi Leonard to that mix. But instead, they drafted him and traded him to San Antonio in exchange for George Hill, who was competent, but obviously not Kawhi. Sure, you could make the argument that Leonard only became great because he ended up with the Spurs, but who knows, if he would've stayed in Indiana, the team might've built a dynasty with Kawhi and Paul George at the forefront.

18 Los Angeles Clippers - Drafting Michael Olowokandi Number 1

via si.com

Back in 1998, the Los Angeles Clippers decided to use their number one overall pick on center Michael Olowokandi, who played his college basketball at the University of the Pacific, which had only produced four other NBA players previously, and none of them turned out to be anything special. Olowokandi was no different, as he failed to make even the slightest impact during his time with the Los Angeles' B-team, or at least it was at the time. They decided to take the big man instead of guys like Mike Bibby, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce, and Dirk Nowitzki, so it's pretty safe to say that drafting the "Kandi Man" was a huge mistake by the Clips.

17 Los Angeles Lakers - Trading Shaquille O'Neal

via Sports Illustrated

After the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, it became quite clear that the team needed to trade either Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant because the two just weren't getting along. But what the team should've done is hold onto both of them and make them work it out, because they blew up what could've been a team who dominated the 2000s even more than they did. But instead, they traded the most dominant player in NBA history to Miami for Lamar Odom and Caron Butler, who were nice players, but not good enough to combine to replace Shaq.

16 Memphis Grizzlies - Drafting Hasheem Thabeet

via Beale Street Bears

To be fair to the Grizzlies, this pick was made during a time where the belief was that you had to have a great big man to win a championship, and they still didn't know that they had a diamond in the rough with the newly acquired Marc Gasol. The biggest mistake here though is that they drafted University of Connecticut big man Hasheem Thabeet over both James Harden and Stephen Curry. Could you imagine a team that had a starting five of Mike Conley, James Harden, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol? That would've been pretty incredible.

15 Miami Heat - Drafting Michael Beasley

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Back in 2008, the Miami Heat had the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, where they decided to take former Kansas State University forward Michael Beasley, who had an incredible college career. But, while Beasley did have a great upside, the team decided to pass up on Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, which was obviously a huge mistake in hindsight. At the time, Love probably would've fit better alongside Dwyane Wade than Westbrook would have, so they should've taken the former UCLA power forward instead of Beasley.

14 Milwaukee Bucks - Trading Dirk Nowitzki For Robert Traylor

via nba.com

While the Milwaukee Bucks clearly picked the right guy in the 1998 NBA Draft, they ended up trading him to Dallas for the wrong guy, Robert "Tractor" Traylor. Just think, what if Dirk would've been paired with a prime Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson. That team might've ended up being the '90s/early 2000s version of the Golden State Warriors. But instead, the team made a huge blunder by trading the greatest European NBA player of all-time to the Mavs for a middle-of-the-road big man who didn't add much to the team when he got there.

13 Minnesota Timberwolves - Passing On Steph Curry, Twice

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During the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves made a puzzling move, as they selected two point guards -- Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn -- with the fifth and sixth overall picks. But the biggest mistake of all wasn't the fact that the team took two point guards back-to-back, it's that with the seventh pick, the Golden State Warriors drafted Stephen Curry. So, to think that an organization so in need of a point guard that they drafted two in a row passed up on Steph Curry... It's just baffling. In fairness though, Rubio turned out good after he arrived from Spain, and no one could've predicted that a jump shooter would go on to become the number one guy on a title team, because that wasn't how the league had worked up to that point.

12 New Orleans Pelicans - Trading Buddy Hield For DeMarcus Cousins

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In a desperate attempt to acquire a second star to keep Anthony Davis happy, the New Orleans Pelicans took a chance when they decided to trade Buddy Hield over to Sacramento in exchange for DeMarcus Cousins. At the time, it looked like a one-sided deal in favor of the Pelicans, however, as it turns out, the Kings ended up getting the better of that exchange because they now have one of the most promising young backcourts in the league with Hield and De'Aaron Fox, while Cousins was injured during his time in New Orleans, and he's now on the road to recovery on a different team.

11 New York Knicks - Hiring Isiah Thomas In 2003

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Back in 2003, the New York Knicks decided to hire former Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas as their general manager, and it turned out to be one of the worst decisions in NBA history. While Thomas was an all-time great as a player, he wasn't an all-time great GM, as he made some of the worst decisions and signed some of the worst contracts in the history of the league. It pretty much started the Knicks' downward spiral that is still going on to this day. But, perhaps, Kevin Durant will be the savior of the Knicks if and/or when he comes on board in the summer of 2019.

10 Oklahoma City Thunder - Trading James Harden

via NBA.com

This is a move that might've directly led to the Golden State Warriors being able to dominate the 2010s, because if Oklahoma City would've just given James Harden the contract extension that he wanted, the trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the aforementioned James Harden might have been a bit too much for the Warriors to handle in the Western Conference. Instead of giving Harden the max extension that he was looking for, the Thunder traded him to Houston for Kevin Martin, who was, at best, a decent sixth man at that point, and Jeremy Lamb, who's been decent, but not great at best as a former late lottery pick. This was just a huge blunder made by the OKC front office that might haunt the franchise for decades to come.

9 Orlando Magic - Low-Balling Shaquille O'Neal

via Orlando Pinstriped Post

Back in the summer of 1996, the Orlando Magic, who were being led by the dynamic combo of Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal, were just coming off of being swept by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. So, in response to that, the Magic's front office decided to low-ball Shaq, who had reached the end of his rookie deal, arguing that his rebounding ability and his defensive ability had been on the decline ever since his rookie season. So, instead of giving Shaq a max contract, they offered the All-Star big man $13 million per year, which led to him signing with the Los Angeles Lakers shortly thereafter.

8 Philadelphia 76ers - Acquiring Chris Webber

via thesixersense.com

In what was a desperate attempt to acquire another star to keep Allen Iverson happy, the Philadelphia 76ers made a deal with the Sacramento Kings to acquire the aging, injury-prone, out-of-shape Chris Webber. Long story short, it didn't work out, as both Iverson and Webber were traded shortly thereafter. On top of that, the team went on to a 38-44 record the season after acquiring C-Webb, which was their only full season with the former All-Star. Both he and Allen Iverson were traded elsewhere -- Webber to Detroit, Iverson to Denver -- just two years after the Sixers acquired the ex-Kings All-Star power forward.

7 Phoenix Suns - Trading Shawn Marion For Shaquille O'Neal

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During the mid-2000s, the Phoenix Suns had one of the most unique rosters in the entire league. But, for whatever reason, the team's new general manager, Steve Kerr, decided to break that team up in order to acquire an aging Shaquille O'Neal. In order to acquire the former NBA champion, the team had to be willing to part ways with Shawn Marion, one of the most dynamic players in the league at the time. So, they gladly sent Marion to Miami in exchange for Shaq, and they were never the same team again. Sure, they were a playoff team and O'Neal did make an All-Star team during his time there, but it wasn't a good move to break up a potential NBA championship roster to acquire someone who is no longer in their prime.

6 Portland Trail Blazers - Drafting Sam Bowie Over Michael Jordan

via clutchpoints.com

This could be the biggest draft blunder in NBA history, as the Portland Trail Blazers decided to take Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan back in 1984. On top of that, since the team was clearly looking for a big man, they could've drafted Charles Barkley instead of Bowie, who wasn't taken off the board until the fifth pick. So, while Jordan went on to become the greatest basketball player of all-time, and Barkley went on to become one of the best five power forwards ever, the Blazers were stuck with someone who had a decent career when healthy, but was as far as you could get from a Hall of Fame talent.

5 Sacramento Kings - Giving Up On Turkoglu And Wallace

via sacbee.com

In the early 2000s, the Sacramento Kings, who were among the best teams in the league at that point, had two pretty good young players in Hedo Turkoglu and Gerald Wallace, whom they let walk away for essentially nothing. Judging from the careers both players had, they probably could've helped extend Sacramento's run into the late 2000s, barring any sort of injury to one of the team's star players. But instead, they let Turkoglu go to the Spurs at the end of his rookie deal, and the following year, the gave up Gerald Wallace to the league's newest franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats, in an expansion draft.

4 San Antonio Spurs - Acquiring Richard Jefferson

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Acquiring Richard Jefferson was a good idea in theory for the San Antonio Spurs. At the time, Jefferson was an All-Star-level player who had been in some pretty key situations, as he was a part of the New Jersey Nets teams who made it to the Finals in back-to-back years. But RJ's two and a half years in San Antonio didn't go as planned, and he was traded to the Golden State Warriors as a result. During his time with the Spurs, and especially after he was traded, it was crystal clear that Jefferson was no longer the player that he was in his prime.

3 Toronto Raptors - Letting Tracy McGrady Sign With Orlando

via sportsnet.ca

After the conclusion of the 1999-00 NBA season, Tracy McGrady, who was then playing for the Toronto Raptors at the time, had reached the end of his rookie deal. T-Mac had just averaged a career high in almost every major statistical category, and it was clear he was destined to be a star. But instead of keeping him alongside fellow up-and-coming star Vince Carter, the team let the future scoring champion sign a deal with the Orlando Magic, which did wonders for T-Mac's individual numbers, but he didn't come into much team success until he was traded to Houston. If Toronto would've kept McGrady with Carter, they might've ruled the east for the first half of the 2000s.

2 Utah Jazz - Trading Dominique Wilkins

via nba.com

Back in 1982, with the third pick in the NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz picked future All-Star Dominique Wilkins, who they quickly traded to the Atlanta Hawks. What did they get in return? Well, they acquired John Drew, Freeman Williams, and $1 million in cash. Safe to say that they didn't get equal value. Just a short time later the team acquired both Karl Malone and John Stockton, so if they would've held onto the "Human Highlight Film," who knows what they could've accomplished? One thing's for sure, though – the trio of Wilkins, Stockton, and Malone would've been a force to be reckoned with in the '80s and '90s.

1 Washington Wizards - Trading Chris Webber For Mitch Richmond

via bulletsforever.com

When this trade was made back in 1999, the then-Washington Bullets general manager, Wes Unseld, was torn apart by the fans for making this deal. However, when it became clear that Mitch Richmond was beginning to break down, while in Sacramento, Chris Webber was still an All-Star forward, the fans got disgruntled with the DC-based franchise. On top of that, after averaging at least 20 points per game during his entire career, Richmond never reached that milestone during his three years in Washington, and he eventually ended up leaving the Wizards after his contract came to an end, to go chase a championship in Los Angeles.

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