Poets on Sports

My Favorite NBA Trades

by Justin Carter

In light of Grantland’s recent reconsidering of the Harden trade, I started thinking about trades, the good & the bad ones that have happened over the years, & which trades stick out in my mind. I’m limiting this to trades I remember, so mostly post-2000 stuff.

Note: This list is heavily weighed towards Houston Rockets trades because I pay the most attention to them.


The Harden Trade (James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, Lazar Hayward to HOU// Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, draft picks to OKC)

I don’t think anything can be said of this trade that hasn’t. Martin left OKC after a year. Jeremy Lamb is getting better & Steven Adams was picked up in the draft with one of Houston’s picks, but OKC lost this one pretty badly, even if the three non-Harden guys who Houston got ended up doing nothing for the Rockets. Did I expect Cole Aldrich to be a serviceable back-up to Omer Asik? Yes, yes I somehow did.

Dwight to the Lakers (too many parts to list// see below)

I love this trade because, a year later, the Lakers had nothing to show for it. (Well, they got rid of Andrew Bynum, which might be enough to qualify this as a win for them.

The Magic got a player I’ve always loved in Arron Afflalo plus Nikola Vucevic. The 76ers sent Iggy to Denver for an injured center, enabling them to hire Sam Hinkie away from the Rockets & start some serious tanking. Denver got more exciting for a year.

The Magic are the only team to still have their main piece from this trade. I love this trade because it’s the rare four team deal where one team appears at first to be getting the raw end AND THEN SOMEHOW ENDS UP WINNING IT! Although, to be fair, Orlando is still a very bad team, so it’s hard to say anyone really won this deal.

McGrady to the Knicks (T-Mac, Sergio Rodriguez to NY// Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, Hilton Armstrong to HOU// Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes to SAC)Thunder at Knicks

McGrady will appear twice on this list, for very different reasons. When this trade happened in 2010, T-Mac had checked out on the Rockets, committing to not playing for Houston again. While the non-Kevin Martin players didn’t do much for Houston (o, Jordan Hill, I had so much hope for you!), I loved this trade for two reasons:

1) Did I love Carl Landry? Sure! But with Luis Scola as the starter, this trade was essentially a Landry/Martin swap, a backup PF for a starting SG. Kevin Martin wasn’t in Houston long, but he helped carry the Rockets’ offense while he was.

2) This trade enabled the Harden trade.

McGrady to the Rockets (McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue, Reece Gaines to HOU// Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, Kelvin Cato to ORL)

I grew up watching the pajama-jersey Rockets, led by Francis, Mobley, & Moochie Norris’ afro. Mobley is still one of my favorite Rockets. At the time, I thought the McGrady/Francis part of this deal was essentially a wash (WRONG), but I was thrilled to swap Cato for Juwan Howard, & was even willing to part with Mobley (partly because I liked Lue & thought he’d blossom) to make that happen.

There’s an old ESG song with the lyrics “Somebody tell Kelvin Cato/ We want our money back.”

We know how this one went– Francis failed with Orlando, failed with the Knicks afterwards, & never looked like “Stevie Franchise” again. Mobley was revealed to have a heart condition that cut his career short. McGrady never led the Rockets to a title (or a first round playoff win), but he made the Rockets relevant for a few years (& helped lead to the Harden trade (EVERYTHING LEADS BACK TO THE HARDEN TRADE)).

The Nets Get Old (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, D.J. White to NETS// Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans, three first rounders to BOS)

1) The Nets showed they were serious about contending with this, if it had been 2010 still.

2) The Celtics got rid of their aging core & came away with three first round picks (&, yeah, Gerald Wallace, who was fun on NBA Live 2003 & pretended to be an All-Star in real life for a few years, but by this time was pretty much worthless).

3) Keith Bogans does nothing, earns five million dollars.

MJ to Houston (Ralph Sampson to POR// Clyde Drexler, #2 pick in the 1984 draft)

Oh wait, Houston told Portland no, didn’t they? Sampson had a great 83-84 season, Drexler didn’t, & Houston chose to go twin towers with Olajuwon & Sampson instead of going with the Hakeem/WHO CARES/Michael Jordan/ Drexler/ WHO CARES lineup that probably wins a lot of NBA titles.hakeemjordan

All trades involving Baron Davis

I’ve loved Baron Davis for years, which is mostly rooted in how fun he was on video games.

Every time Baron Davis gets trades is also fun.

How about Davis to the Warriors for– Speedy Claxton & Dale Davis? LOL, New Orleans.

Or the Clippers trading Davis & the first round pick that became Kyrie Irving for Mo Williams & Jamario Moon? Isn’t that a fun trade?

Hakeem to the Rapto…

No. No. No. No. No.

Scottie Pippen to the Rocke…

No. No. No. Fuck this. No.



About juscart

Justin Carter is the co-editor of Banango Street & an MFA candidate in Poetry @ Bowling Green State University. He enjoys the Rockets & Texans. He sometimes enjoys the Astros. His poems appear in Hobart, Red Lightbulbs, & Revolution House.

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This entry was posted on May 31, 2014 by .
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