What Were They Thinking?! 20 Terrible Trades We STILL Can't Believe These NBA Teams Made

NBA teams have their hands forced into making deals as players are unhappy and unwilling to suit up.

In the world of professional sports trades, there are going to be winners, losers and occasionally a few that leave fans wondering, "what were they thinking?!" The wheeling and dealing in the NBA is no different. Come on, you can't say that when you pop in NBA2K that you haven't tried to swindle a team in a lopsided deal just to see if it would be accepted by the computer. Sometimes, NBA teams have their hands forced into making deals as players are unhappy and unwilling to suit up, whereas others are trying to make a deal that will help their team in the immediate and will worry about the future later.

In the big money world of professional sports, winning is the most important thing and the immense pressures to do so can make people do funny things. Who could ever imagine that iconic players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kevin McHale, Julius Erving, Magic Johnson and even more modern names like Chris Webber, Anfernee Hardaway to name but a few could have changed the state of a franchise had they stayed with their original teams.

Whether it's the annual February trade deadline, the offseason or at some point during the season, when word gets out about wheeling and dealing of NBA players, fans will always be ready to evaluate and critique who their team is giving up and who they are bringing in. Just imagine being Danny Ainge. Only time will tell if his trade of first overall pick this summer for the third pick will turn out to be a stroke of genius or a place on a future list of "what were they thinking".

20 Baron Davis & Unprotected Pick (K.Irving) For Jamario Moon & Mo Williams


When trading a draft pick, especially an unprotected first rounder, teams have to be very cautious or so completely sure of their future that they're willing to pass on what could be at the very worst a lottery pick. In the case of the Clippers transaction with the Cavaliers, giving up both Baron Davis and a pick that would become the first overall pick, Kyrie Irving for essentially two role players, one has to wonder what LA's other franchise was thinking.

19 James Harden For Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb & Draft Picks

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to take over the league, they were supposed to be what the Golden State Warriors are now. Russ was Steph, Harden would be Klay, KD could be himself and Serge Ibaka would play the role of Draymond Green. Okay, you might have to alter your thinking a bit, but you get the gist of it.

18 Brandon Roy For Randy Foye (And Spare Parts) 


Somehow the Portland Trailblazers bamboozled Kevin McHale and the Minnesota Timberwolves into a draft day trade that would have helped the former Celtics legend out of the Western Conference basement. On draft night of 2006, the T-Wolves held the sixth spot in the lottery, while the Boston Celtics were next to take the stage. The confusing trade route had the Timberwolves grab Roy with the sixth pick and the C's taking Foye, then moving the combo guard (plus others) out of Villanova to the Trailblazers for bits and pieces.

17 Steve Nash For Multiple Draft Picks


Who in their right mind would trade a two-time MVP and one of the greatest point guards in league history for a handful of draft picks to a team that was priming itself for a championship run. Especially in your own conference! Back in 2012, the LA Lakers and Phoenix Suns were two teams headed in completely different directions, one was looking for a sixth title in the Kobe era, the other was starting their rebuilding process.

16 DeMarcus Cousins For Buddy Hield & Tyreke Evans


For a while there was talk about how unhappy DeMarcus Cousins was playing in Sacramento and who could blame him. The team appeared to have no real structure or game plan, making useless trades and draft selections that did nothing to help better the club. So what do they do? They make the team worse by trading their best player (and Omri Casspi) for a rookie who failed to live up to expectations coming out of college, a former King who is injury prone, a role player (Langston Galloway) and two draft picks (Zach Collins and Frank Mason).

15 Chris Paul & Pau Gasol Three-Way Trade 


This three team mega trade between the New Orleans Hornets, the LA Lakers and the Houston Rockets unfortunately never took place thanks to the powers of former commissioner David Stern. Would it have happened under the watch of Adam Silver, possibly. Either way, the NBA landscape remained the same, until the Clippers somehow were able to swoop in and offer a deal that seemed to be less valuable.

14 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar For Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, David Meyers & Junior Bridgeman

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Way back in 1974, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was already a three time league MVP, two-time scoring champion, multi-time All-NBA, All-Star, Defensive Player and an NBA Champion. So what's the market value for a player with a resume filled with those accolades? Well one would like to think that, with all respect, one of, if not the most dominating player in the game at that time would fetch more than the four players Milwaukee got back in return.

13 Deron Williams For Derrick Favors, Devin Harris & Draft Picks

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when D. Will was in the same talks for who was going to be the next great point guard with CP3? Yeah, that conversation halted pretty quickly. Sure Williams had led the Jazz to the playoffs for five straight years, but with rumors of a rift between him and Utah's legendary bench boss Jerry Sloan, something had to happen.

12 Charles Barkley For Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang & Tim Perry


How the Phoenix Suns managed to convince the Philadelphia 76ers that this was a good deal is beyond anyone's belief. Sure Hornacek had just come off his first (and only) All-Star appearance and posted a 20/5/5 stat line for the 2001-02 season, but come on folks. At the very least, you had to wonder if the Sixers at least asked for Kevin Johnson to be part of the deal before settling for Horny.

11 Joe Johnson For Rodney Rogers & Tony Delk


What the Boston Celtics were thinking at this point was that while they had a young player filled with potential in Joe Johnson, he essentially played the same position as their star Paul Pierce. While Johnson provided decent rookie stats of 6 six points and three rebounds a night, the opportunity to add valuable depth to a solid Celtics roster that played in a weak Eastern Conference made the trade enticing.

10 Pau Gasol For Marc Gasol (& Whole Bunch Of Nothing)


In the midst of the 2008 season, the LA Lakers changed the landscape of their franchise once again by adding Pau Gasol (and a second round pick that would become Devin Ebanks) for...okay, cue laugh track (considering it's Hollywood)..Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, draft rights to Marc Gasol and future draft picks (Donte Greene and Greivis Vasquez).

9 LaMarcus Aldridge For Tyrus Thomas


One is a four time All-NBA player and five time All-Star, who is often listed among one of the best power forwards in the league. The other found himself out of the league after a nine year career that included three jerseys. The first is Aldridge, a key component to the Portland Trailblazers roster for nine years and has career averages of 19 PPG and 8 RPG. The other is Thomas, who barely averages half of the production that the former Texas Longhorn forward has put out.

8 Tim Hardaway & Chris Gatling For Bimbo Coles & Kevin Willis


How the Golden State Warriors could break up not only one of the best nicknames in NBA history, but also one of the most prolific trios is beyond us. For two seasons Run TMC was one of, if not the hottest thing in the NBA. Then M got traded after two short seasons and T and C were never the same. So of course, then T ended up being traded during the 1995-'96 trade deadline and C was left all alone in the Bay area.

7 Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac


The summer of '96 would change the landscape of the NBA forever. In theory, trading a high school star who had yet to step foot on a NBA court for a proven seven footer in the prime of his career seemed to be a fair deal. The LA Lakers were in need of making a big splash. Although they had gone to the NBA Finals just a few years previous ('90-'91 season) and had only missed the playoffs once in the next five years, expectations of stardom and success was the standard.

6 Scottie Pippen For Olden Polynice


Apparently the Seattle Sonics late '80s scouting staff wasn't as up to speed as the Chicago Bulls crew. Why weren't folks in the Northwest as familiar with the play of the small forward from Central Arkansas as those in the Windy City? Along with a couple of mostly irrelevant draft picks (other than B.J. Armstrong) the trade of Pippen for Polynice was one of the biggest head scratchers ever, just imagine folks in Seattle trading a cup of Starbucks finest brew for a cup of gas station instant coffee.

5 Dirk Nowitzki & Pat Garrity For Robert Traylor


The fact here was that the Dallas Mavericks absolutely fleeced the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1998 NBA Draft as the teams swapped their draft picks. After the Mavs took Traylor with the sixth pick, they quickly swapped the Michigan forward with the Bucks ninth pick, Nowitzki, a forward out of Germany who was an equal mix of over-hyped and unknown depending on who you were talking to.

4 Dennis Rodman For Will Perdue

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, when you look at it this way, the Bulls traded the Spurs a three-time NBA Champion big man for a two-time NBA Champion power forward, pretty fair right? Okay, let's get serious, yes at this point in his well decorated career, The Worm was just kick-starting his career as a one man travelling circus, but he still was by far and away leading the league in rebounding with averages of 17 boards a game during his two years in San Antonio.

3 Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett & Jason Terry For Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace & Draft Picks.


How the Nets were able to acquire two sure fire Hall Of Fame players along with a solid rotational player for what amounted to be a bunch of spare parts was mind-numbing. Then the reality that the Nets just mortgaged their future for a couple of players who were heading into the twilights of their careers came into play.

2 Dominique Wilkins For John Drew & Freeman Williams


Picture this. John Stockton at point. Karl Malone at the power forward position. Dominique Wilkins at the small forward spot. If you can't picture that team competing and bringing a NBA Championship to Utah, than...well it doesn't really matter because it never had a chance to happen.

1 Vince Carter For Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning & Draft Picks


How could a team trade its best ever player?  When that best ever player straight up states that he has put it in neutral for a number of games because he wants out. So there goes his trade value. What then GM Rob Babcock got back in return wasn't even worth a bag of hockey pucks (which, considering it is Canada, could at least have some value).

Both Williams players combined to play less than 100 games with the Raptors, while Zo didn't even bother to board a plane to T-Dot. As for the draft picks, the first was the 16th pick in 2005, which turned into Joey Graham, a dud. The second, which ended up being traded with Jalen Rose for Antonio Davis two years later at least gave the Raps some value. So essentially the trade ended up being Vince Carter for Antonio Davis. Raise your hand if you would do that trade.

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What Were They Thinking?! 20 Terrible Trades We STILL Can't Believe These NBA Teams Made