When you think trade, you probably think equal value. History shows the NBA doesn’t use that definition though. Its teams manage to make some of the most lopsided trades in sports history, but five really went over the top. Some make excuses for the administrative decisions, citing a lack of analytical positions in the front offices at those times, but this top five doesn’t include classic missteps like the Hawks trading Bill Russell to the Celtics or the New Jersey Nets trading Julius Erving to Philadelphia. It also doesn’t count players who demanded to relocate like when the Milwaukee Bucks traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Los Angeles Lakers. The top five lopsided NBA trades show a lack of insight continues in the sport right into the 21st century.
5. In 2008, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Grizzlies received Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol, Kwame Brown, a 2008 first round draft pick, and a 2010 first round draft pick. The Grizzlies made a bear of a decision, losing a star who started strong and stayed strong. Pau Gasol won Rookie of the Year and made the NBA All-Rookie First Team. They gave up a top scoring beast for Brown, who failed to differientiate himself in the game and Crittenton, who later pled guilty to manslaughter and received a 23-year prison term. Gasol, on the other hand, bonded with Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom, and the trio thrilled LA with passing and scoring sequences, and their lasting friendship.
4. Alright, there’s one case where the player made a little noise about wanting to relocate that makes the top five, simply because good sense would tell the team to offer more money and perks, but keep the player at all costs. That case hearkens back to the day in 1968 that the Philadelphia 76ers traded superstar Wilt Chamberlain to the Lakers in exchange for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark, and Darrall Imhoff. It’s awing (and not in a good way) that after four season of Chamberlain’s dominate play, the team agreed to give him up.
3. The trade of Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics in exchage for (deep breath now) Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, cash considerations, and two first round draft picks, one of which was top-3 protected. You can sing it along to the tune for the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” The only thing missing in this lopsided trade was the five gold rings. Garnett shined with the Celtics, helping lead them to their first title since 1986.
2. The Milwaukee Bucks certainly learned the meaning of, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” when they traded German sensation Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity to Dallas for Michigan’s Robert Traylor. Confused? The Bucks certainly were when they gave up the number nine overall draft pick of 1998 for the number six. It probably seemed like moving up a little at the time, but Traylor played only seven NBA seasons, starting in 73 games. Nowitzki played on to become the sixth all-time scorer in the league’s history. Oops.
1. In 1987, the Seattle Supersonics made a super mistake when they traded Scottie Pippen and a 1989 first round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls for draft rights to Olden Polynice, a 1988 second round draft pick, and a 1989 first round draft pick. Pippen remains a legend. He ranks in the Top 50 NBA players. He’s a six-time NBA Champion. He made the All-Defensive First Team eight times.