Hindsight, particularly where sports trades are concerned, really is 20/20.
It will take some time to see what the fallout from the Sacramento Kings deal that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans will be, but it’s already being called one of the worst deals ever.
So bad that even the artificial intelligence in NBA 2K17 wouldn’t allow it.
One day after the NBA all-star game, Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac sent all-star center Cousins and small forward Omri Casspi to the Pelicans for rookie guard Buddy Hield, small forward Tyreke Evans, guard Langston Galloway and the Pelicans’ first and second round picks in this year’s draft.
The Pelicans must be beside themselves with glee on receiving Cousins, who is averaging 27.8 points per game (fourth in the NBA) and 10.6 rebounds (11th overall).
With the trade deadline just two days away and plenty of gossip in the rumor mill, look for a couple of other (potential) lopsided deals.
Cousins trade can be evaluated on face value as a steal for New Orleans (he does join Anthony Davis there), but it will be a little while before it can truly be assessed.
Here are 15 other trades in the history of the league that had a definite winner and loser.
15. Milwaukee Bucks Deal Kareem Abdul Jabbar to Los Angeles
In October 1974, three-time league MVP Jabbar said that while he loved Milwaukee and its fans, the city didn’t fulfill his cultural needs and requested a trade to New York or Los Angeles. During the 1974-75 season, Jabbar was averaging 30 points per game and 14 rebounds, so the task for the Bucks was to maximize any trade. Thus, they packaged up Jabbar and reserve center Walt Wesley to the Lakers for center Elmore Smith, guard Brian Winters, and rookies Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman. Jabbar would go on to win three more MVPs, five more championships and six First Team All-NBA honors and retire as a future Hall of Famer in 1989. Of the players going the other way, Smith played a season and a half with the Bucks and was out of basketball in 1979. Winters played eight pretty good seasons but never won a championship, Meyers put in four seasons and missed an entire one to injury before bowing out in 1980 and Bridgeman was good for nine seasons and one finals appearance in 1984.
14. Golden State Warriors Send Vince Carter To Toronto
Before they were the “Dubs” and all the rage in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors were what could charitably be called an “also ran.” In the spring of 1998, the Warriors were coming off a 19-63 season, having missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. They had the fifth pick in the draft, which they used to pick standout North Carolina junior SG/SF Vince Carter. But, instead of keeping the second team All-American, they dealt him to Toronto for fourth overall pick and Tar Heels teammate Antawn Jamison. While a good player in his own right, Jamison could never help the Warriors reach the playoffs in the five seasons he played there. Carter, on the other hand, would be the league’s rookie of the year in 1999 and be on the All-NBA Second Team in 2001 and Third Team in 2000. He was also a catalyst in Toronto making three straight playoff appearances after not making the post-season in their first four years of existence.
13. Utah Jazz Trade Deron Williams To New Jersey
In this case, the team that packaged up the star player ended up winning the deal. At the trade deadline in 2011, Utah all-star guard point guard Deron Williams was enjoying yet another superlative season, averaging 21.3 points per game and 9.7 assists in 53 games. The two time All-NBA honoree had also been a key cog in four straight post-season appearances, including a run to the Western Conference finals in 2006-07 (where they lost to the powerful San Antonio Spurs). The team was struggling during the 2010-11 season, so management decided to unload Williams and his hefty contract to New Jersey for guard Devin Harris, forward Derrick Favors and draft picks that would turn into center Enes Kanter and Gorgui Dieng. Williams play thereafter declined, to the point he was waived by the Nets in 2015, while Favors (who is still with the team), Harris, Dieng and Kanter made decent contributions and were later dealt for other pieces.
12. Chicago Swaps Tyson Chandler To New Orleans Hornets
Chandler, originally drafted second overall by the L.A. Clippers in 2001, was immediately traded to the Bulls at that draft for Elton Brand. The big center and noted rebounder honed his chops in the Windy City for five seasons, the Bulls gave up on his development in the summer of 2006 and traded him to the New Orleans Hornets for guard J.R. Smith and center P.J. Brown. Chandler would break out during the 2006-07 season, averaging a career high 9.5 PPG and 12.4 rebounds. He would later be a starter during the Dallas Mavericks run to the 2011 championship. He is now the starting center for the Phoenix Suns. Smith was waived by the Bulls before ever playing a game and Brown played one so-so season before moving on.
11. L.A. Clippers Deal Unprotected Draft Pick to Cleveland Who Turns Into Kyrie Irving
After LeBron James flew the coop to Miami with his infamous “Decision” after the 2009-10 season, the Cavaliers quickly went into the crapper, finishing 19-63 during the 2010-11 campaign. With much of the roster still intact, sans King James, the team was deplorable and needed a re-build, fast. At the 2011 trade deadline, the Cavs sent Jamario Moon and Mo Williams to the Clips for Baron Davis and an unprotected first round pick. As luck would have it, the Clippers owned the first overall pick, which Cleveland expended on Duke freshman Kyrie Irving. As we all know now, the Cavaliers have gone from near worst to first, with Irving playing a central role in their 2016 title run. Now the Clips haven’t been awful since the deal, but how good would he have looked in their back court?
10. OKC Sends James Harden to Houston
Perennial all-star James Harden was the Oklahoma City franchise’s first ever draft pick after moving the the midwest city from Seattle. The 2009 Pac-10 player of the year from Arizona State was selected third overall by the Thunder in 2009 and or three seasons he was a key sixth player, scoring as many as 16.8 PPG during the 2011-12 season (just two starts in 62 games). At that time, the Thunder also had Russell Westbrook (4th overall pick, 2008) and Kevin Durant (second overall, 2007). Quite a formidable trio. But, after going to the NBA finals and losing to Miami 4-1 in 2012, the Thunder decided to deal Harden to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and draft picks used to select Steven Adams and Mitch McGary. Harden has become a beast with the Rockets, being named an all-star in five straight seasons and making the All-NBA first team twice. As for the Thunder, none of the players acquired has been an all-star and with Durant now with Golden State, only Westbrook is still around to shoulder the yoke of expectation.
9. Bulls Trade LaMarcus Aldridge To Portland
Post-Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls weren’t a very good team, failing to make the playoffs in six straight seasons after winning it all in 1998. They did make the playoffs in 2005 and 2006, but went out meekly in the first round each time. So, having dealt away center/power forward Eddy Curry in 2005 and going nowhere in the 2006, they owned the Knicks’ second overall pick in that draft. They took power forward Aldridge, which looked brilliant, but traded him straight up for Portland’s volatile PF Tyrus Thomas. Aldridge has been an all-star in five of his 11 seasons, has averaged 22.1 PPG and 8.7 rebounds in 44 playoff games and is ninth among active players in offensive rebounds with 2,030. Thomas started just 95 of 254 games in Chicago, where the Bulls are still seeking that impact power forward in the Aldridge mould.
8. San Diego Rockets Send Elvin Hayes To Baltimore Bullets
This one, pardon the pun, was a blast from the past. In 1968, the Rockets, then in San Diego, had just finished a lousy 15-67 campaign and “earned” the right to pick first overall in the draft. First on the docket was Houston University’s Hayes, who had earlier that year helped the Cougars snap UCLA’s 47-game win streak and in the process outscored Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) 39-15 in the “Game of the Century.” Hayes would be a machine with the Rockets for four years, averaging well over 40 minutes per game, averaging 27.4 point and 16.3 rebounds. In the summer of 1972, though, the Rockets decided to trade Hayes to the Baltimore Bullets for small forward Jack Marin. Hayes would eventually lead the Washington Bullets to a championship in 1978, scoring 21.8 PPG and a league high 13.3 rebounds in 21 playoff contests. Jack Marin was good for the Rockets, but didn’t end up in the Hall of Fame like Hayes did.
7. Sixers Swap Charles Barkley To Phoenix For Jeff Hornacek
The “Round Mound of Rebound” was a fixture in Philadelphia for eight seasons after being drafted fifth overall in the 1984 draft out of Auburn. While Sir Charles was a more svelte version of himself in his early days in Philly, he still averaged 11.6 rebounds (including a league high 14.6 in 1986-87) and 23.3 points. He played in six all-star games and was tops in offensive rebounds three seasons running (1987-89). In the summer of 1992, Barkley was still just 28 and at the height of his powers when the 76ers made a perplexing deal with Phoenix that would see him go to the Suns for shooting guard Jeff Hornacek and two bench players. The Chuckster would end up being named MVP his first season in the desert and make the All-NBA first team for the fifth and last time of his career, while Hornacek’s all-star skills faded, leading to him being traded out of Philly a season and a half later.
6. Cincinnati Royals Trade Oscar Robertson To Milwaukee
Not since 1951 has the Sacramento Kings franchise won a NBA championship. That was when the team was in Rochester. And if the team continues to (potentially) squander assets like DeMarcus Cousins, they won’t win another anytime soon. In the late 1950s, the Royals moved to Cincinnati and in 1960, they drafted hometown boy and Cincinnati Bearcat alumnus Oscar Robertson first overall in the draft. He would be an absolute superstar in Cincinnati, averaging 29.3 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and an incredible 10.3 assists in 10 seasons (he led the NBA seven times in that category, too). In 1970, Robertson was already 31 and the Royals made the choice to deal his aging bod to Milwaukee to get younger players Charlie Paulk and Flynn Robinson. Robertson, who wouldn’t put up the totals with the Bucks like he did in Cincy, would play four more years and help lead the Bucks to their one and only championship in 1971. Paulk and Robinson were complete non-factors for the Royals.
5. Philadelphia Trades Wilt Chamberlain To Lakers
There literally wasn’t anything NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain hadn’t done in his first nine seasons in the league, the last three and half with the Philadelphia 76ers. He won an astounding seven scoring championships (including an eye-popping 50.4 PPG in 1961-62), seven times leading in rebounds (27.2 in 1960-61) and eight times topping the table in minutes played. He also won the second of just two franchise titles, in 1967. The Sixers, however, have a dubious history when it comes to trades and in 1968, they traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers for spare parts Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff. None would have any long-term effect in Philly, while Wilt the Stilt would average 17.7 PPG and 19.2 rebounds and win another title in 1972 with the Lakers.
4. San Antonio Sends Dennis Rodman To Chicago
The Worm was a rebounding monster with San Antonio, leading the league in both seasons he spent in Texas from 1993-94 to 1994-95. If you added his two rebounding crowns from his last two seasons in Detroit, that was four in a row. For some reason, however, the Spurs, who had just lost in the West Conference finals to Houston, shipped him to Chicago for Will Perdue and cash, ostensibly to fill the power forward position void made by the departure of Horace Grant (who left prior to the 1994-95 season). With Rodman in the line-up providing defensive excellence and Michael Jordan pouring in the points, the Bulls would reel off three straight championships from 1995-96 to 1997-98. Rodman would also top the rebounding table for those three campaigns. As for Perdue, he would win a title with the Spurs in 1999, but he was strictly bench depth.
3. Seattle Ships Scottie Pippen To Bulls
On draft day in 1987, the Seattle SuperSonics owned the New York Knicks’ fifth pick, which they dutifully used on Central Arkansas small forward Scottie Pippen. Not knowing what they had, they would shuffle him to Chicago for center Olden Polynice, who was selected eighth overall in the same draft. It turned out to be a heck of a deal for the Bulls. Pippen, along with Michael Jordan and later Dennis Rodman (see previous slide), would be a defensive cornerstone in six Bulls’ championships. Among his many accolades, Pippen was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight times and the All-NBA First Team three times. He also finished his illustrious Hall of Fame career sixth on the all-time steals list with 2,307 and 16th in defensive win shares at 67.3. Polynice, for his part, was a serviceable NBA player for 14 seasons, but never won anything or led any major statistical category.
2. Milwaukee Bucks Deal Dirk Nowitzki To Dallas
Any further evidence you need that the Milwaukee Bucks have been so mediocre for the last 20 seasons (plus) can be found in the horrible 1998 draft day trade that sent then little-known German center Dirk Nowitzki to Dallas. He, along with 19th overall selection Pat Garrity, were packaged up and sent to Dallas for big power forward Robert “Tractor” Traylor, who went sixth overall to the Mavericks. Needless to say, Nowitzki has been a fixture in Dallas for 19 seasons (and counting), winning a title in 2011, Most Valuable Player (2007), four All-NBA First Team nominations and 13 All-Star nods. Traylor would toil for seven seasons with mostly bad clubs including Cleveland and the Hornets (Charlotte and then New Orleans), averaging jut 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
1. Charlotte Hornets Trade Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles
This is where history comes full circle, sort of. At the 1996 draft, the Charlotte Hornets took a flyer on Philadelphia high school phenom Kobe Bryant, picking him 13th overall. Unable to negotiate with the promising youngster over the next few weeks, Charlotte dealt him to the Los Angeles Lakers for center Vlade Divac, future GM of the Sacramento Kings and the perpetrator of the Demarcus Cousins trade from his team to New Orleans on Monday. Divac, no slouch on the boards, would help lead the Hornets to three playoff rounds in his two seasons there, but his exploits paled in comparison to Kobe’s body of work in La-la Land. He would play everyone of his 20 seasons with the Lakers, win five championships, a MVP award (2008), two finals MVP awards, 11 All-NBA first team nods and nine NBA All Defensive First Team honors.