Trades in the NBA and any sport, are not always made even. If you look at some of the movement in the NBA, whether it was Pau Gasol going to the Lakers or the blocked Chris Paul trade, this has consistently been the best way to improve your team. On the flip side, this can also be one of the easiest ways to ruin your franchise and a couple teams we'll talk about today suffered this fate.
The Golden State Warriors are maybe the best dynasty we have seen in the history of the NBA. Adding Kevin Durant was a free agent move, but the other pieces that have built this team were all homegrown. Every team cannot find players that mesh so well, such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. The Thunder drafted three superstars, but we can now see how that played out.
If you want to have a sustainable team facing some of the talents in the NBA, you are going to need to draft well and make the right trades to either nab future stars or stars ready to make an impact right now. One quality of a good general manager is having the ability to evaluate talent. Let's take a look at 20 of the most uneven trades involving current players in the NBA.
20 Thunder Trade James Harden To Houston For Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb And Picks
The Oklahoma City Thunder were unwilling to dip into the luxury tax to re-sign James Harden. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka were already paid and coming off an NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat, and Harden didn't fare so well the last time the team saw him on the court. This led GM Sam Presti to trade Harden to the Houston Rockets for a package that included now-former swingman Kevin Martin.
The Rockets gladly accepted Harden and transformed the former Sixth Man of The Year into a league MVP.
The Thunder drafted a core of three future MVPs, and losing not only one, but two of them will forever cloud the franchise.
19 Clippers Send Baron Davis Unprotected Pick (Kyrie Irving) For Mo Williams & Jamario Moon
Kyrie Irving was the first pick of the 2011 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs landed the fourth overall pick in that draft and received the Kyrie pick in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Cavs sent Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers for Baron Davis and an unprotected first round pick. Mo Williams was not expected to be an impact player and the team wanted to clear salary cap space. Kyrie Irving went on to win the Rookie of the Year award, had multiple All-Star appearances and won a championship. The Clippers landed Chris Paul but lost him before they could win deep in the postseason.
18 Celtics Trade Down, Land Jayson Tatum
The Philadelphia 76ers traded the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft and this year's Sacramento Kings first-round pick to move up to first overall for Markelle Fultz. At the time, much of the conversation was about whom the better guard was: Fultz or Lonzo Ball. After the draft, there were reports that Tatum was the intended pick of the Celtics at No. 1, had they kept the pick. Fultz missed 68 games last season and is trying to regain his old form. Tatum appears to be a future superstar and the Kings look like they could yield a top 5 draft pick. It's hard to say this is not the biggest fleece in recent memory.
17 Donovan Mitchell To Utah For No.24 Pick (Tyler Lydon) & Trey Lyles
Last season as a true rookie, (with all due respect to Ben Simmons), Mitchell was the best player in the league that played in college a few months prior. The Jazz were a playoff team and after losing their All-Star Gordon Hayward, the team drafted Mitchell with the pick they received from the Denver Nuggets for Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon.
This season, Mitchell looks like he is ready to take the next step as a future superstar in this league simply in exchange for two reserve players.
Gordon Hayward expected to go the Boston Celtics and establish his own team in the East before sustaining his ankle injury. Now, his role is unclear and the Utah Jazz have done well in his absence.
16 Jimmy Butler To MIN For Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn & No.7 pick (Lauri Markkanen)
The Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th pick of the 2017 NBA draft that turned into Lauri Markknnen. Jimmy Butler was the major piece in this trade and one year later that move has appeared to fracture the entire Timberwolves organization. This season, LaVine is playing at an All-Star level and before his injury, Markkanen showed potential to be a perfect power forward in today's NBA. Sooner or later, Butler will be on a new team and the young players that could have been Timberwolves will help set up the core of the Chicago Bulls.
15 Nikola Mirotic & 2nd Rounder To New Orleans For Omer Asik
Along with a second-round pick, Nikola Mirotic and a second rounder were sent by the Chicago Bulls to the New Orleans Pelicans for a future first, Omer Asik, Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson. Only Asik is still with the Bulls and Mirotic, on the other hand, is having a career year. Alongside Anthony Davis, Mirotic has shown the NBA why he was highly regarded as a European prospect. The Pelicans are one of the surprise teams of the NBA early this season and Mirotic's addition seems to have helped replace the loss of DeMarcus Cousins and a more natural fit alongside MVP candidate Anthony Davis.
14 Philly Sends Elfrid Payton To Orlando For Dario Šarić, Future Draft Picks
In the 2014 NBA draft, the Philadelphia 76ers held the 10th overall pick and selected Elfrid Payton, whom the Orlando Magic really coveted. This led GM Sam Hinkie to make a deal with Orlando for 12th overall pick Dario Saric, a future second rounder (Richaun Holmes), and a first-round pick for Payton.
Thus, the team restored their first-round pick of the 2017 draft they previously sent away for Andrew Bynum.
This is a lesser known deal that helped build the "Trust the Process" slogan and the legend that is Sam Hinkie.
Saric is a starter for the Sixers and spaces the floor for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
13 Jordan Clarkson For Cash Considerations
The Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak acquired the 46th pick in the 2014 NBA draft for cash considerations. Clarkson was selected with that pick in the second round and turned into a really nice scorer off the bench for the Lakers. Clarkson was traded to the Cavs last season, and his contract helped open the cap space needed for the team to sign LeBron James and the next big free agent they require next offseason.
This deal for the Lakers was not one of their No. 2 overall draft selections, but it gave them the flexibility that makes Los Angeles the free agent destination many top players will consider in the 2019 summer.
12 Wilson Chandler & Danilo Gallinari To Denver For Carmelo Anthony & Chauncey Billups
In 2011, Carmelo Anthony was sent to the New York Knicks in a blockbuster deal with the Denver Nuggets. Denver traded Anthony and Chauncey Billups in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round pick and the swap rights in 2016.
Carmelo was one of the best players in the NBA at the time and the move was expected to bring the Knicks back to relevance.
Carmelo only made the playoffs once and the Nuggets had a better overall record after the move was made. Now, Denver is further along in the process than the Knicks and appear to be one of the up-and-coming teams in the West.
11 Cedi Osman (And Future Picks) To CLE For Tyus Jones
The Cleveland Cavaliers traded the draft rights to Tyus Jones in 2015 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for three second-round picks. The Cavs selected Cedi Osman 31st overall, Rakeem Christmas 36th, and later St. John’s wing Sir’Dominic Pointer 53rd. Cedi Osman is the key second-round pick in this deal.
If you watched Cavs games last season, Osman played really well alongside LeBron James, and this season he has played well so far. Osman can shoot, pass and dribble and at 6'8". He has really high potential for a player relatively unknown out of Turkey selected in the second round.
10 Gary Harris (And Future Picks) For Doug McDermott
The Denver Nuggets drafted Doug McDermott in 2014 and traded the former Creighton star to the Chicago Bulls for the 16th & 19th overall pick and future second-round picks. The 19th pick turned into Gary Harris, who is a very nice core player for the emerging Nuggets. There are a lot of moves on this list that helped build the young talent on the Denver Nuggets, in case you have not noticed a reoccurring theme.
McDermott is a solid role player, but is on his fifth NBA team already in his fourth season. In college, McDermott was an elite level scorer and teams hoped he could find some of that magic at the NBA level, but so far, he's been unable to find his role.
9 PHI Trades Zhaire Smith & 1st Rounder For Mikal Bridges
The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Mikal Bridges out of Villanova with the 10th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Bridges appeared to be the perfect fit as a three-and-D wing player to space the floor for no shooters like Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.
Phoenix traded a first round pick and Zhaire Smith for Bridges. The Suns signed Trevor Ariza to a multi-year deal, and he appears to have some good years left. This will make it hard for Bridges to find minutes and Philly gets an extra first round pick in a loaded draft next year. Zhaire Smith has the chance to rehab and work on his game in the Sixers organization, similar to how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons did.
8 Chris Paul To Houston For Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, + 5 Players & Protected 1st Rounder
The Houston Rockets last season finished with the best record in the NBA thanks to the addition of Chris Paul. Paul was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick next year and cash considerations. For a superstar level point guard, this is considered peanuts, since sixth man Williams is the best player in the deal and Beverley is coming off a major injury. The Rockets could have won the Western Conference and maybe the NBA title if it had not been for an untimely hamstring injury to CP3.
7 Utah Trades Josh Hart & Thomas Bryant To LA For Tony Bradley
The Los Angeles Lakers traded forward Tony Bradley in exchange for Thomas Bryant and Josh Hart. Hart was the 30th pick in the 2017 NBA draft and not expected to contribute major minutes. After winning the summer league MVP, Hart is a crucial piece to the young core of Los Angeles Lakers that are now playing with LeBron James. Hart's skill set fits around LeBron, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers may be better together without any major moves than some people expected. This year, expect the Lakers to make some noise in the Western Conference and Hart to make big plays in crucial situations down the stretch.
6 Spencer Dinwiddie To Nets For Cameron Bairstow
The Detroit Pistons traded Spencer Dinwiddie in exchange for Cameron Bairstow in 2016. Dinwiddie was the third point guard behind Reggie Jackson and Steve Blake.
Now, Dinwiddie is one of the best backup point guards in the league and Bairstow is out of the NBA playing in Australia.
The Pistons have not been a great team the last couple years and injuries to Reggie Jackson would have given Dinwiddie the opportunity to show what he can do in an NBA game. The Pistons have started off this season well but with Dinwiddie still in the rotation it may have been easier to move on from Jackson and his bad contract.
5 Rudy Gobert To Utah For Erick Green
Finally, the Denver Nuggets are on the losing end of a deal. The Nuggets traded Rudy Gobert to the Utah Jazz in 2013 for a second-round pick and cash considerations. Gobert was the Defensive Player of the Year last season and one of the main reasons that the Jazz were a playoff team that upset the Oklahoma City Thunder a year ago. The "Stifle Tower" is one of the best rim protectors in the entire NBA and every team in the league who love to have him anchoring their defense. The Nuggets do have Jokic but Gobert alongside him is something Denver let slip right through their fingertips.
4 Nets Trade No.6 Pick (Damian Lillard) For Gerald Wallace
The Brooklyn Nets made franchise-altering trades in 2012 in an attempt to challenge the LeBron James-led Miami Heat. As we know, their attempt fell short and the most known move from the Nets was their trade with the Boston Celtics. Another trade that gets left out of this discussion is the acquisition of Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers for a lightly protected future first-round pick. When picks are nothing more than nameless assets, they have no real value. When the pick turns into a future Rookie of the Year like Damian Lillard and an All-Star talent, the recipient is the winner of the move. The Blazers quietly fleeced the Nets right before they switched focus to their dealings with the Celtics.
3 Kawhi Leonard To San Antonio For George Hill
This trade can be directly blamed on the San Antonio Spurs' system. George Hill was a first round pick that was averaging 11 points per game in his third season.
The Indiana Pacers fell for the Tony Parker bait.
No team can really know which players on the Spurs could have the same success elsewhere. Hill was a solid starter for the Pacers as they were a playoff team but Kawhi Leonard is an NBA superstar. Leonard is currently the face of the Toronto Raptors squad that may be the best team in the East, while Hill is the starting point guard of maybe the league's worst team in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2 Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum & Kyrie Irving For Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, & Jason Terry
This has to go down as the worst trade in NBA history. The Brooklyn Nets traded Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and three first-round draft picks (2014, 2016, 2018) along with a pick swap in 2017. Sending away Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry was the best move the Celtics have made since drafting Larry Bird. Think about that for a second.
This deal allowed the Celtics to draft Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and use one of those picks to trade for Kyrie Irving. The Celtics have other assets at their disposal and can flip Brown, Tatum or Irving into an even larger piece to their contending team. Wow.
1 Trae Young For Luka Doncic
It appears that both the Hawks and Mavericks selected the right player for their franchise. If you have watched the Mavs play this season, they appear to be a team good enough to win games but just bad enough to finish in the lottery. Next year's draft looks loaded and the Hawks can land a top prospect to pair with Young. Early in the 2018-19 season, Trae Young scored 35 points with 11 assists and put on display the skill set that allowed him to lead the nation in both scoring and assists. As an even swap, this trade can be debatable, but Young being a transcendent shooter and lottery choice makes Atlanta the winner of this deal.