While a huge number of trades take place each and every year in the world of sports, a large number of blockbusters also never quite happen. And, with these trades, comes an eternal flow of questions like “what would have happened?” or “how would have his career been different?”
Especially in today’s day and age, it is rare we see superstars included in trades or trades that feature multiple superstars being traded for each other. That is not because these players aren’t included in talks; it is because normally the amount of effort and compromise it takes to get these deals done is often too much for one or both teams to handle.
So just what type of players and deals are we talking about here? Well, we have compiled 15 of the biggest superstar deals that didn’t happen and they feature some big names. Numerous Hall of Famers, All Stars and MVPs came extremely close to being traded or signed to a team that nobody would associate them with.
So check out this list and let your imagination run wild about much these trades would’ve shaken up the sports world!
15 Eric Lindros to the Rangers
Despite eventually going to the Rangers later on in his career, Eric Lindros’ first potential trade there was an absolutely crazy situation. The Quebec Nordiques drafted Lindros with the first overall pick in the 1991 draft, but he refused to play for them. The Nordiques were looking for a trade partner, but instead found two. They actually ended up agreeing to trade Lindros two times, to both the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers. The case was eventually decided when an independent arbitrator deemed that the Nordiques agreed with the Flyers first.
14 Hakeem Olajuwon to the Heat
Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the best centers in NBA history and a two-time NBA champion. He played for nearly 20 years in the NBA, with most of them coming as a member of the Houston Rockets. Prior to the 1992/93 NBA season, the Houston Rockets were seeking a trade for Olajuwon and offered a deal to the Heat. They could never come to terms and the Heat are probably kicking themselves now, considering that if they would've made more concession, they could've hate The Dream. Olajuwon went on to win back to back titles.
13 Justin Verlander for Dontrelle Willis
Back over a decade ago, Dontrelle Willis was among the best pitchers in the MLB and was a World Series winner. In 2006, both the Marlins and Tigers expressed some interest in a trade that would feature pitchers Justin Verlander and Dontrelle Willis. As it played out, the Marlins actually turned the trade down, as they were still very high on Willis. Looking back, Tigers fans should be extremely happy that the Marlins turned it down as Willis soon fizzled out of the league and Verlander went on to become Cy Young winner. On top of that, the tigers later got Willis in a separate deal that included Miguel Cabrera as well, who's one of the best players in the MLB.
12 Charles Barkley to the Lakers
Charles Barkley was one of the best forwards in basketball from the late 80s to the early 90s and was thus a hot commodity throughout the league. In fact, in 1992, in a trade that almost nobody knows about, Barkley was briefly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. The trade did in fact happen, but, within hours, the Sixers backed out and Barkley remained a member of the 76ers and actually played for them that night, mere hours after believing he was a Laker.
11 Joe Sakic to the Rangers
Joe Sakic is widely regarded as one of the best leaders in NHL history and played his entire 20 year career with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise. However, Sakic was extremely close to becoming a member of the New York Rangers in 1997 when he signed a massive offer sheet with the team, with a signing bonus of around $15 million. The Avalanche matched the offer sheet, so Sakic remained in Denver, much to the relief of Avalanche fans around the world.
10 Jim Harbaugh to the Browns
This is one of the stranger spots on this list, as it focuses on the potential trade of a head coach, something that doesn’t happen all too much in sports. At the time, Jim Harbaugh was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and considered among the best head coaches in the league. The proposed trade was reported by numerous NFL insiders and Browns reps, but was denied by the 49ers brass. The trade never came to fruition, but if it would have, Harbaugh would have been the first NFL head coach traded in around a decade.
9 Scottie Pippen for Shawn Kemp
At the time that this trade almost happened, Scottie Pippen and Shawn Kemp were among the best forwards in the NBA. The trade was to take place on draft night 1994 and would feature the Sonics getting Pippen and the Bulls getting Kemp and two-time sixth man of the year winner Ricky Pierce, as well as a swap of first round picks. Bulls fans have to be happy it never went through, as Pippen helped the Bulls win three more championships during his time in Chicago.
8 Barry Bonds to Atlanta
Despite all the steroid allegations and other issues surrounding Bonds, he is still one of the best players in MLB history. In the spring of 1992, while Bonds was still a member of a Pittsburgh Pirates, the Atlanta Braves tried to acquire Bonds. In fact, the deal was so close to being done that the Braves GM was prepping the press release. Eventually, the Pirates backed out of the deal before it became official. This move would have likely been the biggest in Braves history.
7 Kobe Bryant to the Bulls
Kobe Bryant is among the most prolific scorers in NBA history and has been the face of the Los Angeles Lakers for the last few decades. Well, nearly a decade ago, Kobe nearly found himself in colors other than purple and yellow. In 2007, Kobe Bryant was seeking a trade out of LA, with Chicago being his number one choice. The deal was very close to being completed, but the inclusion of forward Luol Deng is what the deal got hung up on.
6 Pavel Datsyuk for Scott Gomez
Back in 2007, the Red Wings were in contract talks with Pavel Datsyuk and his future in Detroit was in question. Rather than lose him for nothing, Detroit entertained the idea of moving him. Scott Gomez of the New Jersey Devils caught their eye after coming off of an impressive 84 point season in 2005/06. In the end, the Red Wings came to their senses and didn’t make a deal, which turned out to be a great move as Gomez really never returned to form, while Datsyuk is one of the premier players in the league.
5 Steve Yzerman for Alexei Yashin
In another near catastrophe from the Red Wings, they almost traded one of the best players in franchise history and the man who eventually led them to three Stanley Cups, Steve Yzerman. In 1995, Yzerman was nearly traded to the Ottawa Senators for Alexi Yashin in a deal that was only moments from being completed. It was agreed to in principle by both teams, before Detroit's ownership stepped in to veto the deal, which ended up being a great move.
4 Chris Paul to the Lakers
In 2011, one of the biggest trades in recent memory was in place. Chris Paul was going to the Lakers, Pau Gasol was going to the Rockets and the Hornets were set to receive a package of solid players and picks. The trade was agreed to by all parties and was actually announced to the media. However, under an hour after the announcement, it was announced that Commissioner David Stern nixed the deal, as the Hornets were a league owned team at that point. Instead, Paul was eventually traded to the Clippers in a much weaker trade for the Hornets.
3 Alex Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez
In the mid 2000s, one of the biggest proposed trades in baseball's history was being thrown around MLB circles. The talks were between the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers, and they were talking about a deal centered around trading Alex Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez, with other small pieces as well. If it went through, this trade would have been a major shakeup in the MLB. The trade was eventually vetoed by the MLBPA and the Red Sox eventually lost out on A-Rod to the Yankees. Ouch, talk about adding insult to injury.
2 Aaron Rodgers for Randy Moss
It is rare that you see a straight up player for player deal in the NFL and it’s even rarer to see one that includes someone as important as Randy Moss. Well, in 2007, a deal almost came about that would have sent Aaron Rodgers to the Raiders and Randy Moss to the Packers. The talks all began when it was reported that Brett Favre wanted more help on offense and urged the management to go after Moss. The deal fell through when the Packers wanted more than just an aging Moss for Rodgers. In retrospect, the Packers made the right move in keeping him.
1 DeAndre Jordan to the Mavericks
Coming in at number one on the list is the recent craziness surrounding DeAndre Jordan and his “signing” with the Mavericks. It was reported by nearly every reputable media outlet that Jordan had signed with the Mavericks and that was that, right? Wrong. The Los Angeles Clippers made a last ditch move to retain their star center and the move paid off as he decided to return to Lob City. The social media exchanges and pandemonium surrounding the decision for that 24 hour period make this an easy choice for number one.