The 8 Absolute Worst NBA Trades Of All Time

For GMs and coaches, the NBA is nothing but a gamble. Sure, you can scout players and evaluate their strengths, but you never really know what you’re getting until you throw them out there in the fire.

When trying to make the best decision for a franchise, it only makes sense that players need to be moved. If this current offseason has proven anything, it’s that loyalty does not run deep in the league.

Take a look at Kevin Garnett and, most importantly, Paul Pierce. Their service for the Boston Celtics was outstanding, walking away with a world championship in 2008 (the big three assembled in 2007). And what about Pierce? He has poured his heart and soul out for the same organization for 15 years, cementing himself as one of the greatest Celtics of all time.

So how do they re-pay them? They send their asses to Brooklyn for Kris Humphries and a couple of draft picks. Now that’s dirty. While we still have to wait and see how this particular trade pans out, we’ve seen many moves like this in the past, that in retrospect, were boneheaded decisions. In fact, they just make no damn sense.

Every year, there’s a wild trade that shocks us and has us asking: what are some of these NBA owners smoking? And there’s nothing better than seeing these trades bite them in the ass. It always ends like this: one team crying, and the other one laughing all the way to the bank… with a superstar franchise player. These are the 8 absolute worst NBA trades of all time.

Charles Barkley traded for three no-names


Charles Barkley was one of the most promising players in the league as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers during the late 80s and early 90s. But when he wanted out, the organization foolishly obliged his request. They sent him to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Tim Perry, Jeff Hornacek and Andrew Lang. Who?! So just how bad was the trade for Philly? They didn’t make the playoffs for the next six years. Chuck, on the otherhand? He went on to win an MVP title and to carry out an epic rivalry against Michael Jordan in the valley of the sun.

Julius Erving traded for $3 million


ulius Erving, aka Dr. J., was a symbol for smoothness in the 70s. His play on the court was unrivaled, as he really made it look too easy. As a member of the New York Nets in 1976, he was SOLD to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million. Was the money worth the talent? The Doctor went on to win an MVP, make 11 All-Star games and he ultimately won the club an NBA title in 1983.

Dirk Nowitzki traded for Robert Traylor


The 1998 draft was one for the ages. When the Milwaukee Bucks took Dirk Nowitzki ninth overall, they really didn’t know who they were getting. So when they traded him to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Robert Traylor (he was the sixth pick in that draft), they made the biggest mistake in their franchise’s history. Dirk went on to be an 11-time All-Star, win a league MVP title and of course a championship in 2011. Traylor on the other hand? He was out of the league in seven years.

Robert Parish and Kevin McHale traded for two picks


When the Golden State Warriors sent center Robert Parish and the third overall pick in the 1980 draft to the Boston Celtics in exchange for the first and 13th overall pick in the same draft, it was really a toss up. But when the Celtics selected Kevin McHale with that third pick, pairing him with Parish and Larry Bird, they created what was truly the original big three. The trio went on to win three titles in six years, mostly against an impressive showtime Lakers team. So what happened to Golden State out of all of this? They used their choices on Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown. Enough said.

Kobe Bryant traded for Vlade Divac


If you thought the 1998 draft was bad, then you didn’t know about 1996. In what has to be one of the biggest blunders in sports history, the Charlotte Hornets prearranged a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers to trade rookie pick Kobe Bryant in exchange for big man Vlade Divac. The Hornets had no idea that the 17 year old would go on to be the greatest player of the next decade, winning five championships and earning the nickname “The Black Mamba.” It doesn’t get much better than that. Divac on the other hand? He was sub par at best.

Moses Malone traded for a draft pick


In another monster 1976 trade, the Portland Trailblazers traded Moses Malone to the Buffalo Braves in exchange for a first round pick. The pick ended up being Rick Robey. Who is Rick Robey? Exactly. The Braves ended up trading Malone to the Houston Rockets for a couple of first rounders not even a week later and I think we all know how that turned out. Malone is now a Hall of Famer and a living legend.

Wilt Chamberlain gets traded for no damn reason


Wilt Chamberlain is a God amongst mortal men. In addition to being one of the greatest champs of all time, bringing the first title to Los Angeles, he also claims to have slept with 20,000 women. We can’t say we don’t believe him either as Hugh Hefner was one of his good buddies while playing in LA. But  this gets us thinking, if he wasn’t traded to the Lakers, maybe this number wouldn’t be so astronomical. Good thing the Philadelphia 76ers decided to trade his ass for no damn reason. No amount of money is worth the amount of star power and talent that Wilt is.

Bill Russell traded for two scrubs


Bill Russell is the definition of a champion. His historic play for the Boston Celtics during the 50s and 60s was nothing short of legendary, as he walked away with 11 NBA titles at the end of his career. Unprecedented to say the least. But it almost didn’t go down this way. The Hawks originally drafted the big man in 1956 but, in short, traded him away for some cash. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

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Julian Sonny