In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins-to-New Orleans trade, in which many pundits are calling out Sacremento for making “the worst trade ever,” it’s time to go back and look at some of the miscues by NBA owners and general managers. Some looked good at the time, and some were forced, but the ones following are proof that making trades in the NBA are very much an inexact science.
5.) Cincinnati trades Oscar Robertson to Milwaukee
Prior to 1970, Robertson was truly one of the great players in the NBA. Before the 1969 season, the Royals hired Bob Cousy as head coach. Rumors swirled that Cousy was jealous of Robertson since “The Big O” had broken many of Cousy’s records. A year later, the Royals traded Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Flynn Robinson and Charlie Paulk. Robertson, who also played college basketball in Cincinnati, was very upset. “Whatever his reasons were,” Robertson was quoted as saying, “I think he was wrong and I’ll never forget it.” Robertson teamed with Lew Alcindor and the Bucks to win the NBA Championship a year later. Robertson is considered one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double in a single season (1961-62).
4.) Oklahoma City trades James Harden to Houston
James Hardin of Arizona State was taken third overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the Thunder and became a very solid player off the bench. In 2012, he was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year and helped the Thunder to the NBA Finals. The following year, after not agreeing to terms with the Thunder, he was traded to the Rockets for Lazar Hayward, Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks, and a second round pick. Since that time, Harden has become one of the most prolific scorers, as well as one of the biggest stars, in the NBA. Last season he averaged 29 points per game for the Rockets. This season, up to the All Star break, he is avergaing 29.2, 8.3 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game.
3.) Charlotte trades Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles
Bryant was a high school phenom out of Lower Merion High School in the Philadelphia area and was chosen 13th overall by the Hornets in 1996. Some reports say the Hornets had worked out a deal with the Lakers prior to the draft because Bryant’s agent said Kobe would not play for Charlotte. The deal sent center Vlade Divac, to the Hornets in exchange for the draft rights to Bryant. He was only 17 at the time of the draft, so his parents had to cosign his contract. He turned 18 before the season began and has turned heads every season he’s played since then. He played all 20 of his seasons with the Lakers, helping the team to five NBA Championships. Bryant became the first player in NBA history to have at least 30,000 points and 6,000 assists in a career. Divac had a fine career and is now the GM of the Sacramento Kings.
2.) Milwaukee trades Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Los Angeles
Abdul-Jabbar was still way before his prime during the 1974-75 season when he led Milwaukee with 30 points and 14 rebounds per game. The following season he was swapped to the Lakers for Junior Bridgeman, Macon native Elmore Smith, Brian Winters and Dave Meyers. All four had solid NBA careers, but Abdul-Jabbar went on to win five NBA titles with the Lakers. Upon his retirement in 1989, he was the NBA’s all-time leader in points with 38,387.
1.) Seattle trades Scottie Pippen to Chicago
The Supersonics selected Pippen number five overall in the 1987 out of small Central Arkansas. Pippen was a walk-on with the NAIA school and was pretty much in obsecurity. Seattle traded their Pippen to the Bulls for center Olden Polynice from the University of Virginia. Polynice played five years with Seattle where he averaged only 5.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He also went on to play 15 years in the NBA where he was known as a top offensive rebounder. Pippen, of course, became one of the great players in NBA history who, with Michael Jordan, led the Bulls to six NBA Championships.