The 5 Craziest Trade Deals In Basketball History
Crazy Trade Deals

The 5 Craziest Trade Deals In Basketball History

We’ve all heard of players finding out they were traded via Twitter, ESPN tickers, or from reporters. But have you heard of a player getting traded mid-game? Or even crazier—traded to the opponent and scoring for both teams in the same game?

Yes, in the NBA and ABA’s long and storied history, there have been a couple of crazy trade scenarios. And with trade season already opening with a bang, we wanted to take a look back at the wildest in history, specifically as they relate to the circumstances, not the caliber of the players involved. 

Here’s the zaniest of the trade world. 

5. Traded Without Your Front Office Knowing 

Art Heyman is the type of old school legend that just no longer exists in today’s game. The 6’5″ small forward had a Christian Laettner-style college career—winning AP Player of the Year, ACC Player and Athlete of the Year, the 1963 NCAA MVP, and receiving the Oscar Robertson trophy— all before being drafted #1 overall in the 1963 draft. 

However, despite his skill, Art also liked to fight…a lot. 

Heyman first got suspended midway through his sophomore season for a 10-minute brawl between Duke and UNC that involved him punching a fan, future Coach Larry Brown, and future NBA exec Donnie Walsh. Later in his career, he punched a fan again (who he believed was spitting on him, leading to him being arrested by the New Orleans PD in the middle of a Championship series. As it later turned out, the fan had a physical problem and didn’t intentionally spit on Heyman. 

His attitude problems led to him being traded to the Miami Floridians. Things at the time were such a mess between the eight owners that newspapers would print if games would be played in accordance with if that week’s payroll had been met.

The dysfunction led one of the owners to trade for Art Heyman without telling anyone in the front office. When Heyman showed up, Bob Halloran— a journalist and sportscaster in Miami—interviewed Heyman, asking if he was here to play for Miami. Art, not one for subtleties, made himself known to the Miami audience by exclaiming:

“Hello, Jews out there! Your boy is here!”

They just don’t make them like Art anymore. 

4. Traded To Promote Preseason Games 

You’ve likely heard of the infamous chip on Kyle Korver’s shoulder he got from being traded for “cash considerations,” which were later used to buy a copier. However, despite the dramatization, being traded for cash considerations isn’t that crazy in the league (no matter how insultingly mundane the funds are used for). 

What’s less common is being traded-in order to get to play an opponent moreThat’s right. In 1983, big man Fred Roberts was traded from the Utah Jazz to the Boston Celtics in exchange for a third-round pick (used to select now NBA coach Billy Donovan) and two preseason games. The still young Utah franchise thought a visiting roster of Larry Bird, McHale, Dannie Ainge, and Parish would help them to sell tickets. 

Unfortunately for Fred Roberts, this was his second time being traded for off-court assets. He had previously been dealt from the Spurs to the Nets so that the Nets could hire Stan Albeck, who was under contract with the Spurs. The two trades led Roberts to have a grudge, leading his coach on his later tenure with the Bucks to promise, “if we ever trade him, it will be for a human being.”

3. Traded Mid Game…By Accident

Oh, man. On the list of bad trade scenarios, there’s getting trade midgame Harrison Barnes style, and then there’s, well, whatever went down with MarShon Brooks’ absolute fiasco of a trade. 

In the 2018-19 season, Brooks was playing for the Memphis Grizzlies in a relatively quiet game against the Miami Heat. Mid-way through the fourth quarter, MarShon’s Brooks’ mother starts yelling at him from the stands. Like legit yelling trying to get his attention. MarShon is looking around confused and can’t hear her, but figures it doesn’t matter because the game is about to be over. 

So the game ends, and Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace rushes to tell MarShon—in front of the whole team—that he’s been traded alongside teammate Wayne Selden to the Phoenix Suns as part of a three-team deal. Embarrassing, but hey, that’s the business of basketball. 

Except for one thing: the Suns thought they were getting Dillon Brooks—who also played for Memphis at the time. There had apparently been a mixup with the players having the same last names and a staggering level of front-office incompetence. 

In the ensuing public media chaos, Chris Wallace was described as visibly shaking as he denied allegations that his side knew all along it was supposed to be Dillon Brooks traded. Even after addressing rumors, he had forwarded the correct Brooks’ medical records to the Suns. 

Ultimately, the trade was canceled. After being fake-traded in front of everyone and then told he wasn’t good enough and how they wanted someone else, MarShon suited back up for Memphis and received a warm ovation from a crowd that seemed to feel a little bad about everything. 

2. Traded To The Opposing Team….At Home

For Jalen Rosen, 2005-2006 was a very, very bad season. 

At this time, Jalen was playing for a struggling Raptors team that started the season 1-15 and was looking to rebuild with a young roster of Chris Bosh, Charlie Villanueva, and Jose Calderon. That was the same Raptors team that was so bad, Kobe Byrant scored 81 points on them (more specifically Jalen himself). So yeah, things weren’t going well. 

Looking to unload the $32 million contract for the aging Rose (who was averaging just over 12 points a game), Toronto dealt him to the New York Knicks…while the Knicks were playing in Toronto. 

While Rose knew he was likely to be traded, he says he never expected it to go down the way it did. Traded to the New York Knicks just hours before tipoff, Jaylen was literally not even allowed to go to his locker to clean his things out and had to sit on the Knicks bench— in front of his former home crowd and teammates— in his street clothes. He took the plane back with the team that night. 

“That was classic, man.”, he said. “Classic ‘test your professionalism’ material”,

  1. Scoring Points For Both Teams In The Same Game

This has got to be the craziest anomalies in all of basketball trade history. 

In 1978, the newly merged New Jersey Nets were facing Dr. J’s 76ers when things got heated, and a rookie referee gave Bernard King two technicals, leading to his ejection. Upon leaving the court, Bernard King flipped a chair and was given a third technical…after he was already ejected. The former ABA player turned Nets coach Kevin Loughery argued with the ref that receiving a third technical after one was already disqualified from playing was impossible—to which he also received a third technical. 

The Nets argued this was insanity. The league agreed and issued that a replay had to happen from the moment of transgression (from the 5:50 mark in the third quarter) onwards. However, due to scheduling, this game didn’t happen for 4 months, during which time Harvey Catchings was traded from Philadelphia to the Nets for Eric Money and Ralph Simpson. As a result, all 3 players were listed as having played for both teams in the same game. However, Money was only one money enough to score any baskets, earning him the famous stat-line.