by Micah Hart
You may have noticed it’s the offseason, which means we have plenty of time to sit around and think about many of the things that make it fun to be an NBA fan. Here at All Ball, we’ll be passing the time until the start of the season with a new series, the Fave Five. Each week we’ll count down a list of the five best, or worst … somethings. We’ll try to get creative with it. Plus we’re taking requests! If you have a suggestion for a Fave Five post, give us a shout and you may see it appear in this space over the next several weeks.
Earlier this offseason, you may recall a certain four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers, Andrew Bynum to the Sixers and Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets. Those guys were certainly the A-listers in the deal, but several others (12 in total) changed teams, including Al Harrington, who moved from Denver to Orlando.
For Harrington, this was nothing new. Big Al has had to pack his bags at a moment’s notice several times along his NBA journey so far; the trade to Orlando constituted the fifth time in his 14-year career he’s been dealt.
Five trades for one guy. That seems like a lot. But is it?
Not really. The NBA trades players at almost a fantasy-league level. Contenders trade to add that last piece for a championship run. Also-rans trade to bottom out and start from scratch. The Timberwolves trade because it’s Tuesday, and hey, why not. It’s the trading-est league in professional sports, and I don’t think it’s particularly close either.
In league history, there have been seven players to be traded seven or more times. In this week’s Fave
Five Seven, we take a look at them.
To me, Jim Jackson is the absolute epitome of the kind of player who gets traded a lot in the NBA. He was clearly a talented guy (drafted No. 4 overall in the 1992 Draft), and his scoring skills made him a coveted asset throughout his career. But often times Jackson failed to provide much else for a team, and soon he’d be dangled again as bait for the next team looking to shore up its offense.
Career trades: Seven. Dallas to New Jersey, New Jersey to Philadelphia, Portland to Atlanta, Atlanta to Cleveland, Houston to New Orleans, New Orleans to Phoenix
Most famous deals: Jackson came into the league with the Mavericks, and for a time there was real optimism about the team’s future with the “Three Js” — Jason (Kidd), Jamal (Mashburn), and Jackson. But in-fighting famously led Dallas to blow up the team, and after shipping Kidd to Phoenix and Mashburn to Miami, the Mavs traded Jackson to New Jersey in a gigantic, nine-player deal at the 1997 trade deadline that netted Shawn Bradley. Four months later, at the ’97 Draft, the Nets then turned around and dealt Jackson to the Sixers in an eight-player deal that netted (no pun intended) No. 2 pick Keith Van Horn.
I like to think teams traded for Sam just because they enjoyed his dancing talents. Almost all of Cassell’s career changes of uniform involved trades; the only time he ever changed teams as a free agent was when he signed with the Celtics at the tail end of his career after being waived by the Clippers. Naturally, Boston would trade him a year later to Sacramento.
Career trades: Seven. Houston to Phoenix, Phoenix to Dallas, Dallas to New Jersey, New Jersey to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Minnesota, Minnesota to L.A. Clippers, Boston to Sacramento
Most famous deals: Early in his career, Cassell was involved in some pretty big trades involving some pretty big names. Drafted by the Rockets in 1993, Sam was traded three years later, in August of 1996, to Phoenix as part of the package that brought Charles Barkley to Houston for one last (failed) run at a championship. In December of the same year, Cassell was then rerouted to Dallas with Michael Finley in the previously mentioned Jason Kidd trade. To cap off his busy stretch, less than two months later Cassell went with Jackson to New Jersey in the also-previously mentioned Mavs-Nets trade (there is a LOT of overlap amongst the most-traded players).
When I think of hard-working, no nonsense NBA players, for some reason Thorpe is one of the first guys that comes to mind.
Career trades: Seven. Sacramento to Houston, Houston to Portland, Portland to Detroit, Detroit to Vancouver, Vancouver to Sacramento, Sacramento to Washington, Miami to Charlotte.
Most famous deals: Man, I thought Cassell was in some important deals, but check out the franchise-altering trades Thorpe was a part of. In 1995, Thorpe went to Portland in the trade that brought Clyde Drexler to Houston, a deal that helped the Rockets win their second straight title. In 1997, the Pistons sent Thorpe to the Grizzlies in a seemingly minor deal for a first-round pick. That pick would turn out to be one of the most famous picks in history however, as thanks to the Grizzlies ineptitude it turned out to be the No. 2 pick in 2003, which Detroit used to select
Dwyane Wade Carmelo Anthony Chris Bosh Zarko Cabarkapa Darko Milicic. Finally, in 1998, Thorpe went from the Kings to the Wizards along with Mitch Richmond for Chris Webber, a deal that set the formerly floundering franchise on a course to Western Conference stardom if not quite championship level.
The only No. 1 pick on the list. In that context, I suppose you’d have to find his career a disappointment, but the guy did play 16 years in the league. Pretty hard to do that if you don’t bring something to the table.
Career trades: Seven. Golden State to Philadelphia, Minnesota to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Denver, Denver to Philadelphia, Chicago to Cleveland, Cleveland to Oklahoma City, New Jersey to L.A. Lakers
Most famous deals: For such a high-profile guy, Smith was never really part of any trades I’d consider blockbusters. He was part of two deals that helped build LeBron James‘ supporting cast in Cleveland, going to the Cavs at the 2008 deadline in a three-team deal that brought in Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and Ben Wallace, and then departed later that summer in another three-team swap that sent him to OKC and brought Mo Williams to Cleveland. Additionally, Smith was traded for Jim Jackson (Warriors-Sixers in 1998), and for Sam Cassell (Milwaukee-Minnesota, 2003).
The two top names on this list are people that often come to mind when thinking of players who got moved around a lot, but I would never have thought MacLean would have even had the opportunity to be traded as many times as he was.
Career trades: Eight. Detroit to L.A. Clippers, Clippers to Washington, Washington to Denver, Philadelphia to New Jersey, New Jersey to Seattle, Seattle to Orlando, Orlando to Houston, Miami to Toronto
Most famous deals: Most of MacLean’s deals were of the minor variety, but he was involved in the three-team, 10-player trade in August of 1999 that sent Steve Francis from Vancouver to Houston. The former Most Improved Player Award winner was also part of the Van Horn deal that sent Jim Jackson to Philly, and, in the fading twilight of his career, was part of a trade in October of 2001 involving the next member on our list.
Oh Billy, Billy Billy. How you tantalized with your talents, ever since you were co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-Star game with Alonzo Mourning in 1988. And yet despite a very promising college career and being drafted No. 3 overall in 1991, Owens never quite found that level of success in the NBA, even after a First-Team All-Rookie showing in 1991-92.
Career trades: Eight. Sacramento to Golden State, Golden State to Miami, Miami to Sacramento, Seattle to Orlando, Orlando to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Golden State, Golden State to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Detroit.
Most famous deals: Owens was drafted No. 3 overall by the Kings in 1991, but a protracted holdout led the team to the deal him to Golden State for Mitch Richmond, thereby ending the run of Run TMC. Yoko. Was dealt with MacLean from Seattle to Orlando in 1999, kicking off a ridiculous 14-month span that saw Owens traded five times. Dig this slate, from his Basketball Reference page:
June 30, 1999: Traded by the Seattle SuperSonics with Dale Ellis, Don MacLean and Corey Maggette to the Orlando Magic for Horace Grant, a 2000 2nd round draft pick and a 2001 2nd round draft pick.
Aug. 13, 1999: Traded by the Orlando Magic to the Philadelphia 76ers for Harvey Grant and Anthony Parker.
Feb. 16, 2000: As part of a 3-team trade, traded by the Philadelphia 76ers with Larry Hughes to the Golden State Warriors; the Chicago Bulls traded Toni Kukoc to the Philadelphia 76ers; the Golden State Warriors traded John Starks and a 2000 1st round draft pick (Chris Mihm) to the Chicago Bulls; and the Philadelphia 76ers traded Bruce Bowen to the Chicago Bulls.
June 27, 2000: As part of a 3-team trade, traded by the Golden State Warriors with Jason Caffey to the Milwaukee Bucks; the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Bob Sura to the Golden State Warriors; the Milwaukee Bucks traded J.R. Reid and Robert Traylor to the Cleveland Cavaliers; and the Milwaukee Bucks traded Vinny Del Negro to the Golden State Warriors.
Aug. 22, 2000: Traded by the Milwaukee Bucks to the Detroit Pistons for Lindsey Hunter.
Man I hope he got to keep his frequent flier miles.
When I first thought about making this list, I naturally assumed Gatling would be the anchor. What NBA team in the 1990s didn’t trade for Gatling at one time or another? So imagine my surprise to see he was only been traded eight times.
Career trades: Eight. Golden State to Miami, Dallas to New Jersey, New Jersey to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Orlando, Orlando to Denver, Denver to Miami, Miami to Cleveland, Cleveland to Miami
Most famous deals: Gatling went from Golden State to Miami alongside Tim Hardaway in 1996, went with Cassell and Jackson to the Nets in the much previously mentioned Nets-Mavs soiree, tag-teamed with Cassell again on the way to Milwaukee in the deal that sent Stephon Marbury to New Jersey, and made his third trip to Miami in 2001 in the MacLean deal.
Bonus trade: Gatling was actually included in nine trades if you consider that the pick used to select him in the 1991 draft was shipped from Philadelphia to Golden State in 1990 for Manute Bol.
Much love to Justin Kimbrell for the research assist in putting this one together.