So we talked about some of the worst NBA trades of the last ten years in a previous post. However, the supersmart general managers of the NBA are extremely prone to making way too many bone-headed decisions. So, there were still too many trades to fit in one post. Here are the two absolute worst ones.
#1. James Harden traded to the Houston Rockets
It’s incredible that there was a time in the NBA when Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were on the same team. And this wasn’t some super team filled with ageing superstars just teaming up to get a championship before retirement. All of these players had been drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder and were together on the team during their early 20s. They had made an NBA Finals appearance and were expected to be a dominant force in the NBA for years to come. However, things didn’t really turn out as planned.
It all started with James Harden’s departure (he explicitly said in an interview that he would’ve definitely stayed if the money was right). In 2011, Durant and Westbrook had signed their big contracts and even Serge Ibaka had received a 4 year, $48 million extension. James Harden demanded a 4 year, $60 million extension but the Thunder were only ready to pay him $55 million. Since that extra $5 million would’ve cost them $15 million in luxury. A big reason behind that must’ve been that the Thunder organization would not have expected James Harden to transform into a future league MVP. They thought he was good, but they didn’t think he was THAT good. They were also spoilt by the embarrassment of riches they had in terms of Durant and Westbrook, so they didn’t give Harden the respect he deserved.
The Houston Rockets ended up being the big winners in this trade as they got Harden in return for Kevin Martin (who played only one season with the Thunder), Jeremy Lamb (who averaged 7 points per game for the Thunder) and a draft pick which ended up being Steven Adams (the best part of the deal for the Thunder). With Harden recently putting up historically great shooting performances and the Thunder having lost Kevin Durant over the years as well, this has to be one of the worst trades ever. Never forget, Harden just wanted $5 million more.
#2. The Brooklyn Nets trade their future away
Before we talk about this ridiculous trade in 2013, let’s talk a little about the debacle in 2012. With Brook Lopez and Deron Williams on their roster, the Nets felt that with a few tweaks to their roster, they can become instant contenders, so they traded their first round pick away to the Portland Trailblazers for a declining Gerald Wallace. That pick turned out to be All Star point guard Damian Lillard. As if that wasn’t enough, the Nets went all out in their pursuit of smashing their foot with a hammer the following year. After moving to Brooklyn from New Jersey, the Nets organization felt that they needed to ‘create a buzz’ around the team and eventually take the spot of New York City’s premier basketball team away from the Knicks. The trade that ensued is by far one of the most suicidal trades of all time.
With Wallace, Lopez, Williams and Joe Johnson already on the roster, the Nets decided to pick up what was left of an ageing ‘Big Three’ in Boston. For a 37 year old Kevin Garnett, a 36 year old Paul Pierce and 36 year old Jason Terry, the Nets traded away five players including Keith Bogans, Marshawn Brooks, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and an astounding four unprotected first round draft picks. Those picks turned into Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and key pieces in the Celtics’ acquisition of Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
So even when the Big Three era of the Boston Celtics ended, the team didn’t spend a lot of time in rebuild-mode and went right back into being one of the best teams in the league. Contrastingly, the so called ‘Big Five’ of the Brooklyn Nets was a colossal failure as Pierce only played for one season and Garnett played for two. Their ‘biggest success’ was reaching the second round of the playoffs once, where they lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat. The Nets haven’t won more than 28 games in a season aince 2015 and have become the league’s perennial laughing stock. The 2018-19 season seems to be signalling that the bad days might be at an end, however, 5 years of misery were definitely not worth what they got in return, making this, THE worst trade of the last decade.