All Ball Fave Five: Most Traded Players In NBA History

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.

Jim Jackson

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.

Sam Cassell

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).

Otis Thorpe

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.

Joe Smith

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).

Don MacLean

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.

Billy Owens

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: EightSacramento 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.

Chris Gatling

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.

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52 Comments

  1. When I read the Title, I knew that former 1 draft Joe Smith will be on the list lol…Chauncey Billups will be in this list in the future

  2. qwerty says:

    Im seeing alot of Miami, Houston, Sacramento in there

  3. RODRIGO CAZARES says:

    you are missing the BIG trade, Shaquille O´neal. So great he played with 6 teams during his playing time in the nba, just ridiculous.

  4. Malx says:

    Totally forgot about Drew Gooden :) he has been around 9 times if im correct.

  5. LaZap says:

    I think Matt Barnes should’ve made this list!

  6. Will says:

    What about Quentin Richardson?

    Drafted by Clippers, signed with Phoenix, traded to Knicks, traded to Grizzlies, then the Clippers, then to Minnesota, then to Miami befor signing with Orlando.

  7. AussieGangstar says:

    Trades are trades, as soon as D12 is traded to miami for Jo Anthony and Mike Miller, as rumour suggests, we’ll see the greatest NBA ever!!

    PG Ray Allen
    SG Dwayne Wade
    PF The King
    SF Christopher Bosh
    C Dwight Howard

    Then roll players like shane baittier.Camby, Bibby, Rio.

    Can’t lose, safe moneys on the heat. trade WILL happen in the next 3 weeks.
    GO HEAT!!!!!

    • Alan says:

      where did you hear something as ridiculious as this lol

    • Dylan says:

      Oh yeah I’m so sure the Lakers will be willing to trade that

    • This Fool^^^^ says:

      You truley play too much nba 2K. I’m a Heat fan and I know that’s not going down.

    • Brian DaSilva says:

      Um i think you got the wrong miami team buddy this isnt nba 2k13 hahaha… and drew gooden should be here !!

    • CRAZY says:

      As if the Lakers are going to trade Dwight for Mike Miller and Joel Anthony. These Heat fans are starting to sound like Laker fans with all their stupid trade fantasies. And Ray Allen for PG? You know nothing about basketball, sir.

    • Joke says:

      Ray Allen starting point? Unless you are planning on Lebron playing point forward all game this is a bad idea… and even then.

    • tatoes says:

      Wow, you are dumb. Fisrtly for the idea that they would trade d12 for such little return, and secondly, do you proofread your posts at all? Bosh at SF and “All Lebron No Lebrain” at PF? Also it’s role players (as in they fulfill a “role”) And Ray would never be their PG, he doesn’t work well with the ball in his hands, he’s more of an off ball player. You obviously are another homer on here, please refrain from posting when you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • notAheatFAN says:

        Who says LBJ can’t play PF?He can play 1-2 and better at a 3-4 position. Reality check. But, I agree with the others, this ain’t gonna happen.

    • Justin says:

      ??? Explain how this is going to happen.

  8. Jeciel Gaerlan says:

    Not only was Jim Jackson traded seven times (the above article forgot to mention his trade from Philadelphia to Golden State), he played for twelve teams. I would like to see a list of the ‘Most Teams Played Players In NBA History’.

  9. Just some Comment says:

    SHAQ? Are we forgetting him? or am i wrong?

    • Stu Brew says:

      Shaq was only traded 3 times in his career. LA Lakers to Miami, Miami to Phoenix and then Phoenix to Cleveland. The other 2 times were free agent signings.

  10. emac says:

    where’s chauncey?

  11. Jeffrey says:

    How about player with most demand to be traded?

  12. Patrick says:

    What about Quentin Richardson? In 2009 he was traded 4 times moreover he plays, or rather – warms a bench in magic uniform which is his 8th team

  13. You will never see Lebron James in this list :)

  14. KR says:

    what about such-and-such? oh wait, they were traded less times than the above players? i guess that’s why they didn’t make the list…

  15. JOSH says:

    Where tyrone lue, lol that guy has been on EVERY team in the nba

  16. Terko says:

    Quentin Richardson was traded 5 times, but he was on the roster of eight teams, playing for 5 of them.
    Drew Gooden and Chauncey Billups have played for 9 and 7 teams respectively, but they were traded just 5 times.
    I guess Kurt Thomas is the most closely player to be on this list. He played for 10 teams and he was traded 6 times.

  17. chris says:

    Ho could you forget Kevin Willis who played on 10 NBA teams and played till he was 42 years old ???

  18. DrunkBilly says:

    Chauncey Billups played in 7 different teams (and play 2 non-consecutive times with the Nuggets) without any rest season.

  19. KB24 says:

    What about Robert “Big Shot” Horry… Or it just feels like hes been traded a lot because everywhere he goes he wins a championship.

  20. Truth says:

    What?! No Kevin Ollie? 12 teams in 13 seasons, end of story

  21. gomez says:

    trades do not include free agency then. So what about Kurt Thomas and Tim Thomas?

  22. crazy aussie gangstar says:

    you are crazy with some stupid trade mate dream on

  23. LakersAllDay says:

    Drew Gooden? 9 times I think

  24. Adrian says:

    Shaq: 3 trades
    Drafted by the Magic, signed with the Lakers, traded to the Heat, traded to the Suns, traded to the Cavs, signed with the Celtics

    Chauncey: 5 trades
    Drafted by the Celtics, traded to the Raptors, traded to the Nuggets, traded to the Magic, signed with the Wolves, signed with the Pistons, traded to the Nuggets, traded to the Knicks, signed with the Clippers

  25. KrisandnotKrisKringle says:

    What about Adam Morrison? Ray Allen should be on there too, bucks to Seattle Seattle to celtics celtics to miami.

    • Ryan says:

      Oh wowowowowowow. Ral is the worst suggestion I’ve heard thus far. As people have already clearly stated it’s players that have been traded seven times or more and Ray has only been traded twice, celtics to Miami was not a trade he signed in free agency. Two trades. Two. Why dont we just count Kobe in there too and hey while were at it lets throw in Michael Jordan

  26. hello says:

    awsome read…. I wonder which current players are comming close to be on the list as well…lol

  27. Sing says:

    The best or most like “15” man by their team or city. Please do this one. Thanks

    Sing Ly
    Seattle Sonics fan

    PS. Steve schaffer..

  28. Toronto Ball3r says:

    STEPHEN JACKSON has a history of being a money-wagon jumper… Eight Teams he’s been traded to in 11 years, mainly because of his initial fun-first attitude.

  29. JDish says:

    What about Larry Hughes?
    Arent all these guys called NBA Journeymen? This list should be the “Non-Glue Guys;” players that didn’t bring enough elements to the table to keep them on a squad for long periods of time.

  30. Ajay says:

    Where’s Jerry Stackhouse?

  31. bunbury says:

    There was a a guy that i think he has also been traded ridiculously. i dont remember his name but he was the 3rd PG for the Knicks in 99 after charlie ward and chris childs. does anyone remembers his name? I think i last saw him with the clippers.

  32. Jaystill says:

    wghat about mike james and earl boykins?

  33. Jaystill says:

    or rodman?

  34. weisz.santos@ says:

    Just explaing to me! how did the detroit pistons! Drafted Darko Mililic instead of Dwayne wade, Carmelo Anthony and Bosh.. Haha! I’ve Watch that draft and the commentator said that “DARKO WAS A FREAK OF NATURE!” Haha. But I guess it did pan out somehow because they did WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH DARKO! haha

  35. Nuggetz says:

    BILLUPS SHOULD BE ON THIS!

  36. Sharz says:

    WOW ok where is KEVIN OLLIE?!!!! the guy moves teams every season or something, his been with like over 10 diff teams in his career… wait his been with 12 DIFFERENT TEAMS! WHY IS HE NOT ON HERE!!!

  37. KobeisKobe says:

    HOW ABOUT SHAQUILLE O’NEAL???? ORLANDO/ LAKERS/ MIAMI/ CLEVELAND/ PHOENIX/ BOSTON

  38. gonzalez says:

    We have to remember Robert Horry he played for four teams and he won 7 NBA champion1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007

  39. #heat fan says:

    what about dalembert