Sometimes, teams get fleeced. It’s not as prevalent in today’s NBA where most front office units have an analytics department and can accurately assess a player’s return on investment, but bad deals still happen.
Because we’re coming up on the start of the NBA season, most people aren’t even thinking about possible trade deals. That’s because the February deadline is still a half-season of actual basketball away, and teams are still figuring out what their new personnel can do and how they’ll gel over the long haul of 82 games (and hopefully more). After going through the biggest free agency signings in NBA history, we think it’s actually the perfect time to look at some of the most one-sided trades.
You know most of these already because they live on in NBA folklore, and double as a general manager’s waking nightmare.
Dennis Rodman to the Chicago Bulls
San Antonio Spurs receive Will Perdue
We don’t normally associate the San Antonio Spurs with bad roster moves, but all things considered, the Spurs hindsight sees how lopsided this deal was with clear 20/20 vision.
With the Bulls, Rodman would play an instrumental role in the Jordan’s second three-peat by serving as one of the NBA’s best defenders while continuing to destroy everyone on the boards. Rodman would win two rebounding titles with the Bulls and provided a level of intensity that the Bulls desperately needed after losing to the Magic in the 1995 playoffs. After the 1996 Finals, SuperSonics head coach George Karl said “Dennis Rodman is the reason they were successful.”
For the Spurs, it made sense that the team wanted to get rid of him. The Spurs faltered in the 1995 playoffs because of Rodman’s antics. He would show up 30 minutes late to a practice a day before a series-deciding game against the Houston Rockets. Then-coach Dave Cowens benched Rodman, and the Rockets jumped out to a 16-point lead before Dennis ever got on the floor. Will Perdue worked as a serviceable center, but never had close to the impact for the Spurs that Rodman did for the Bulls.