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10 Worst NBA Trades In The Last 10 Years

10 Worst NBA Trades In The Last 10 Years

There is an old belief that making a blockbuster trade will be a surefire way to improve a team. Each trade deadline, the rumors start flying and the mill starts churning out hypotheticals about superstars on the move. This past trade deadline was an example of what can happen when stars are disgruntled and want out.

The offseason is similar. When the season ends, some stars are fed up with trying to lead their team to a long playoff run. When they fail, see Ben Simmons, they react and want out of town. It allows other teams to swoop in and pair a second or third superstar at the expense of future draft capital.

The Los Angeles Lakers thought they had the perfect piece of the puzzle by acquiring Russell Westbrook to pair with Anthony Davis and LeBron James. On paper, it looked like a team that could make the NBA Finals. As we stand today, the Lakers are the No. 9 with a 28-36 record. There is a legitimate shot that the Lakers will finish with a losing record and could miss the playoffs.

The Westbrook trade is going to put the Lakers back, but it’s not the only terrible trade we have seen in the last 10 years. These are trades featuring superstars, role players, and draft capital. The question is are any of these trades worse than the one the Lakers did this past offseason?

Here are the 10 worst trades in the last 10 years.

10. Brooklyn Nets Could Have Landed Damian Lillard, But Struck Out On Gerald Wallace

Damian Lillard Brooklyn Nets

Trade Package: Portland Trail Blazers traded Gerald Wallace to Brooklyn Nets for Shawne Williams, Mehemet Okur, and a top-three protected 2012 pick

During the 2011-2012 season, the Brooklyn Nets wanted Gerald Wallace. Wallace was averaging 13.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. The Nets decided to trade Shawne Williams and Mehemet Okur, but the prize of all was their first-round draft pick.

Since the draft pick fell out of the top-3, it was rewarded to the Trail Blazers. You can never know who would fall to who, but the Nets could have landed Damian Lillard. This trade sinks near the bottom part of the rankings though because the Nets already had Deron Williams as the starting point guard. With that said, the team could have drafted Harrison Barnes and used the $40 million they gave Wallace in the 2012 offseason somewhere else, especially since he only lasted one full season with the team.

9. Mavericks Trade The Future For Renting Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo Dallas Mavericks

Trade Package: Dallas Mavericks traded Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, 2015 first-round pick, 2016 second-round pick, to Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell

Dirk Nowitzki was entering the final stages of his career. The Mavericks thought they could pair him with the former All-Star in Rondo to help the Mavericks make one last push towards winning a title. Rondo was averaging 8.3 points, 10.8 assists, and 1.7 steals with the Celtics. It cost the Mavericks a solid role player in Jae Crowder and two draft picks, one of which being a first-rounder.

The trade never panned out the way Dallas envisioned. With the Mavericks, Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 assists, and 1.2 steals. He played 46 games and the Mavericks lost to the Houston Rockets in five games in the first round. After the season was over. Rondo left the Mavericks to sign with the Sacramento Kings. Many believed that Rondo never meshed with head coach Rick Carlisle, so the Mavericks wasted a first-rounder for just 46 games of Rondo.

8. Knicks Go All-In On Andrea Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani

Trade Package: New York Knicks traded Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, 2016 first-round pick, 2014 second-round pick, 2017 second-round pick to Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani

Masai Ujiri has been making mountains out of molehills well before his trades for Kawhi Leonard. In 2013, the New York Knicks were coming off one of their better seasons in recent years. The team made the semifinals of the playoffs and Carmelo Anthony led the league in scoring. To go all-in, the Knicks traded three draft picks, a dependable three-point shooter in Steve Novak, and a defensive presence in Marcus Camby to the Raptors for Andrea Bargnani.

Bargnani was coming off a season where he played 35 games and averaged 12.7 points and 3.7 rebounds. The following two seasons, Bargnani played a total of 71 games, averaging 13.3 points and 14.8 rebounds in consecutive seasons. Bargnani played just one more season in 2015-2016 before leaving the league for good. As for the 2016 first-rounder, it was used in a trade that helped the Nuggets land star point guard Jamal Murray.

7. Pacers Land Point Guard At The Cost Of A Future Finals MVP

Kawhi Leonard Pacers

Trade Package: San Antonio Spurs traded George Hill for draft rights to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, Erazem Lorbek, and Davis Bertans

In the 2011 NBA Draft, Leonard was taken with the No. 15 overall pick by the Pacers. Indiana used their first-round selection and shipped him to San Antonio along with the rights to Erazem Lorbek and Davis Bertans. Hill was coming off a season where he averaged 11.6 points and 2.5 assists but was seen as a solid point guard.

The Pacers believed they had a core of Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert. Eventually, this trade did pan out as the Pacers made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014. With that said, imagine a lineup with Leonard and George instead. That lineup might have beaten LeBron James and the Heat. Instead, the Pacers came up short, while Leonard won a Finals MVP in 2014 over James.

6. Celtics Trade Key Players To Land Kyrie Irving

Former Celtic Kendrick Perkins Rips Kyrie Irving After Playoff Exit

Trade Package: Boston Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving

After the 2017 NBA Finals, there grew reports that Kyrie Irving grew tired of living in the shadow of LeBron James. At the time, the Cavaliers had made the Finals three straight years, including winning the 2016 championship. The success didn’t matter as Irving wanted to prove he could lead a team himself.

The Cavaliers granted his wish by trading Irving to the Celtics for a plethora of players. Irving averaged 24.4 points and 5.1 assists his first season and 23.8 points and 6.9 assists his second season, but he didn’t play in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers due to injury. Irving was later seen as a problem in the locker room and Irving was out after just two seasons.

5. Magic Trade Two Future All-Stars For Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka

Trade Package: Orlando Magic traded Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka

The Magic thought that adding Ibaka would bolster the team’s frontcourt and help the team make a deep playoff run. Instead, Ibaka played 56 games for the team before being traded to the Toronto Raptors. Ibaka was averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks before being traded. In reality, the Magic traded their former No. 2 overall pick and their first-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft for 56 games of Ibaka.

Meanwhile, Oladipo and Ibaka eventually became pieces to help the Thunder acquire Paul George. With that said, Oladipo turned into an All-Defensive player, while Sabonis developed into one of the game’s well-rounded players. Both players own All-Star nods. The Magic could have had a team headlined by Oladipo, Sabonis, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic in the late 2010s.

4. Thunder Grant James Harden Trade For Kevin Martin And Jeremy Lamb

(via Bleacher Report)

(via Bleacher Report)

Trade Package: Houston Rockets traded Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, 2013 first-round pick, 2014 first-round pick, 2013 second-round pick to Oklahoma City Thunder for James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward

After making the NBA Finals in 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder had one of the most dynamic young cores we have ever seen with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. Instead of trying to run it back, Harden wasn’t happy with his role and wanted out. The Thunder then traded Harden to the Houston Rockets in a blockbuster trade. Harden eventually won three scoring titles and an MVP during his tenure in Houston but never made the NBA Finals.

The Thunder made the Conference Finals in 2014 and 2016 but came up short, which eventually led to Durant leaving the team. The draft picks turned into Steven Adams, Alex Abrines, and Mitch McGary. While Adams was a dependable starter, the trio of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden would have likely made another NBA Finals and maybe would have won had they stayed playing together.

3. Lakers Send Four Picks For Steve Nash

Steve Nash

Trade Package: Los Angeles Lakers traded 2013 and 2015 first-round picks, 2013 and 2014 second-round picks to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash

This trade was horrendous for both sides. For starters, the Lakers were in win-now mode. The team thought that 38-year old Steve Nash was the answer for their point guard problems. The team had also made a trade for Dwight Howard. With Pau Gasol, the team had a great roster on paper. Instead, Nash played a total of 65 games combined in two seasons.

The 2012-2013 season was his best, playing 50 games and averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 assists, but the Lakers finished 45-37 and with the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The team was then swept in four games by the Spurs. As for the draft picks, the players didn’t turn into anything special for the Suns, but the deal was part of a series of moves that saw the Lakers have some of their worst overall success as a team from 2014 to 2018.

2. Lakers Desconstruct Roster For Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook Averaged 0.8 Turnovers In The Last 5 Games, But Fans Still Call Him Out: "Low Turnovers Doesn’t Automatically Mean A Good Game For Russ."

Trade Package: Los Angeles Lakers traded Kyle Kuzma, Kenvatious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, 2021 first-round pick to Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook, 2024 second-round pick, and 2028 second-round pick

This trade could set the Lakers back even worse than the Nets. For starters, the Pelicans own the rights to the team’s 2022 first-round pick, can swap first-rounders in 2023, and then have the option to own either the team’s 2024 or 2025 first-round pick. Plus, the Lakers gave up their 2021 first-round pick to land Westbrook. The Lakers could see a future like the Nets during the 2020s, especially with health concerns around Anthony Davis and LeBron James finishing up his age 37 seasons.

Westbrook also prevents the Lakers from signing anybody this offseason if he picks up his $47 million player’s option. If you are Westbrook, why wouldn’t you pick up that option for that large sum? Because the team traded for Westbrook, the team wasted a great season from LeBron James and put their future in even more jeopardy. The Lakers are stuck and the team could waste another season of LeBron’s career next year. When you look at the landscape of what was on the line, the Lakers failed miserably. 

1. Nets Trade Four First-Rounders For Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, And Jason Terry

Nets Trade Four First-Rounders For Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, And Jason Terry

Trade Package: Brooklyn Nets traded Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogan, MarShon Brooks, 2014 first-round pick, 2016 first-round pick, 2017 first-round pick swap, 2018 first-round pick to Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry

This trade goes down as one of the worst trades ever and not just from the last 10 years. The Brooklyn Nets were transitioning from New Jersey to Brooklyn and wanted to open up their new arena with star power. The team had Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez, all worthy of All-Star status. To go all-in, the Nets traded a slew of players and eventually four first-round picks for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.

The production from Garnett was lackluster at best. Garnett was 37 years old, averaged 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in one complete season, and was traded midway through the following year. Pierce lasted only one season and averaged 13.5 points and the Nets were bounced in the second round of the playoffs by the Heat. The draft picks turned into feature cornerstone players for the Celtics such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Nets then embarked on one of their worst stretches in team history, only to see their draft capital go to Boston.


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The Milwaukee Bucks Almost Landed Stephen Curry: They Would Have Giannis And Curry Since 2013

The Blockbuster Trade The Raptors Rejected: Dirk Nowitzki And Steve Nash For Vince Carter And Antonio Davis In 2001

The Blockbuster Trade The Cavaliers Rejected: Khris Middleton And Malcolm Brogdon For Kyrie Irving In 2017