NBA teams trade players often for a variety of reasons, but trading in the league is difficult due to salary requirements. Every trade must have a salary match on both sides of the deal, and teams often do desperate things to find expiring contracts, unload expensive players and find veteran players. This list is a story of the five worst trades, and each one speaks to a desperate move by one team that was use to the advantage of the other team.
#5: Kobe To The Lakers
The Charlotte Hornets chose to unload the high schooler known as Kobe Bryant to the Lakers, and the Lakers happily accepted. They added Bryant to their draft pick Derek Fisher, and the two men grew up in the NBA together. They stayed on the same team for quite some time, and Kobe became one the ten best players of all time. He won five championships for the Lakers, and he scored 81 points in a game. His impact is felt every day, and the player on the other end of the deal was Vlade Divac.
#4: Wilt To The Lakers
Wilt Chamberlain was no longer happy playing in Philadelphia, and he made it known that he wanted to be traded. He was not competing for titles in Philly, and he was unhappy with the way the team played around him. His request for a trade came as no surprise to the media, and Wilt came to the Lakers. He powered a force in LA that went to several NBA finals, and the team held the record for longest winning streak while winning the 1972 championship.
#3: Kareem To Los Angeles
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came to the Lakers in a trade when he was no longer pleased playing for the Bucks. He brought a title to Milwaukee, and he created a new dynasty with the team that would soon include Magic Johnson. The Lakers sent several players to the Bucks in exchange for Jabbar, and they were rewarded with the all-time scoring leader. Milwaukee has not been close to a contender since, and that is because they received no transcendent value in the trade.
#2: St. Louis Hawks Trade Bill Russell
Bill Rusell is considered by some to be the best player of all time. He won 11 titles in Boston, and he was the glue that held his team together through each championship. He was so successful that he cannot be matched in terms of success, and no other player may win that much. The Hawks traded Russell because he was not the right fit for them, and he became one of the greats when he landed in Boston. St. Louis got almost nothing in return, and they soon moved their operation to Atlanta after failing in St. Louis.
#1: Kwame Brown For Pau Gasol
The Lakers sent Kwame Brown to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. The Grizzlies were quite aware they could not re-sign Gasol, and they wanted to receive value in return. they traded for Kwame Brown because he was a number one pick with potential. The Lakers knew Brown would not amount to much, and they dangled him out for the Grizzlies to take. Gasol’s turn in LA brought the team to three straight NBA finals and two championships. Kobe Bryant needed a partner in crime, and the team found it in the Spanish seven-footer.
Each trade shows a lack of proper judgment on the part of one team or another. The team that wins is the team with the most foresight, and the team that loses is the team with the least leverage.