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Most Uneven Trades in Sports History

Sports on Earth logo Sports on Earth 5/18/2017 David Ubben

The Nets acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and others for future draft picks, a trade that seemed bad then and looks awful now. (Getty Images) © Jim McIsaac/Getty Images The Nets acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and others for future draft picks, a trade that seemed bad then and looks awful now. (Getty Images) Back in July 2013, the Nets, fresh off a move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, thought it was a good idea to give up on building their franchise through the draft and acquire two aging stars in hopes of building through free agency and gaining fan interest in the short term.

The Nets gave up unprotected first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 and the rights to swap picks in 2017 along with Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and Keith Bogans.

For that haul of picks and inconsequential role players, it got a 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, 35-year-old Paul Pierce, 35-year-old Jason Terry and the rights to D.J. White, who was waived days later.

Shocker: It didn't work. This week, the madness might have peaked as Boston won the lottery and the rights to the No. 1 pick.

That original swap ranks near the top of the worst trades in sports history, crippling one franchise while helping fuel another for years.

How does it stand alongside some of the other worst trades in sports history? Let's have a look.

(Author's note: We're excluding the Kobe Bryant and John Elway draft day disasters by the Baltimore Colts and Charlotte Hornets, respectively. Both players exercised personal agency in the run-up to the draft and, in one way or another, forced their franchise's hand, brokering a trade.)

1. Curse of the Bambino

An infamous photograph of Babe Ruth currently is up for auction. © Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images An infamous photograph of Babe Ruth currently is up for auction. The gold standard by which all other trades are examined. Red Sox owner Harry Fraze gave up a promising 23-year-old pitcher/home run hitter named Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000 and a $300,000 loan (in part to finance a failed Broadway musical called "No No Nannette"). Ruth went on to add 665 more home runs to his then-total of 49, including 54 in his first season in New York. Ruth helped the Red Sox win the 1915, 1916 and 1918 World Series and won four more in New York. Boston, meanwhile, didn't win another until 2004.

2. Oakland jettisons Moss

At the time, the move seemed reasonable. But that's a familiar tale for many of the trades on this list. In 2005, Oakland gave up a first-round pick and linebacker Napoleon Harris to acquire Randy Moss from the Vikings. He was coming off a career-worst season in Minnesota and Oakland hoped to revive him. Instead, he looked like his career was stumbling to a modest end. After two seasons, the Raiders and new coach Lane Kiffin were dying to get rid of a sulking Moss and his anchor of a contract. New England grabbed him for a fourth-round pick. The next year, with Tom Brady throwing him the ball, he was better than ever, posing one of the best seasons ever for a receiver, catching a career-high 23 touchdowns, along with 98 catches and 1,493 yards. New England went 16-0 in the regular season and for the next three seasons, Moss was a 1,000-yard receiver with double-digit scores.

3. Washington goes all-in for RG3

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins jokes with head coach Mike Shanahan also of the Washington Redskins during pre-game warm ups prior to playing against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. © Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins jokes with head coach Mike Shanahan also of the Washington Redskins during pre-game warm ups prior to playing against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. Any stable, successful franchise is built around a quarterback, so you can't blame teams for betting the farm on a talent they believe in. However, when it goes poorly, it looks bad fast. In 2012, Washington gave up their first and second round picks, a 2013 first-round pick and 2014 first-round pick to move up four spots and pick reigning Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick. Griffin won Rookie of the Year honors and was invited to the Pro Bowl while taking the team to the playoffs, but injuries and friction in the front office put Griffin on the bench. He spent the entire 2015 season inactive and even briefly practiced at safety before being released in March 2016.

Worse, the Rams used their picks (and future trades involving those picks) to grab OT Greg Robinson, LB Alec Ogletree and CB Janoris Jenkins, all starters.

4. St. Louis gets iced out of Russell pick

The Celtics completed a trade with the St. Louis Hawks to move up from No. 7 to No. 2 in the 1956 NBA Draft. However, Boston wanted Bill Russell and knew the Rochester Royals planned on taking him No. 1 overall. Celtics owner Walter Brown also owned the Ice Capades and offered Royals owner Lee Harrison a week with the traveling ice skating show if he'd let Russell drop to No. 2. He agreed, taking Si Brown No. 1. Russell ended up being a five-time MVP and 11-time champion who ranks among the greatest players to ever step on an NBA floor.

5. Saints go bankrupt on Ricky

Ricky Williams was a classic case of untapped potential, like the rest of the players on this list. © Eliot J Schecter/Getty Images Ricky Williams was a classic case of untapped potential, like the rest of the players on this list. Fantasy football owners have been booed from leagues for trades more prudent than the one the New Orleans Saints took to draft Ricky Williams. Mike Ditka wanted the Heisman Trophy winner and all-time NCAA leader in rushing, and so did general manager Bill Kuharich. Months before the draft, Ditka boasted he'd trade his entire draft for Williams ... and then he did it. The Saints gave Chicago six picks in 1999 and their first two picks in 2000 to move up from No. 12 to No. 5 and grab Williams. He played three seasons with decent output -- he twice topped 1,000 yards -- before Ditka was fired and the Saints traded Williams to Miami.

6. Knicks believe in Bargnani

There's a reason why every NBA team with an overpaid star on the wrong side of his career picks up the phone and dials Madison Square Garden. In 2013, New York inexplicably dealt three players, a first-round pick and two second-round picks, for ex-No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani, who was coming off two elbow injuries and his worst season as a pro, capping a five-year run of failing to make the playoffs with Toronto. The seven-foot Italian still had two years and $22 million left on his deal and the Knicks were more than willing to pay it.

7. Nets sued over Dr. J move

Julius Erving (11 appearances, 11 starts): 20.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game; 2 MVP awards Dr. J also averaged 20.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists in five ABA All-Star Games. © NBAE/Getty Images 20.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game; 2 MVP awards Dr. J also averaged 20.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists in five ABA All-Star Games. In 1976, the New Jersey Nets gave up two-time ABA MVP Julius Erving, then 26, to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million. The trade took fans so much by surprise that they later sued the team and won, successfully arguing they were led to believe he'd be back the following season when they renewed their tickets. The slam dunk pioneer won NBA MVP honors in 1981 and led Philly to four Finals, winning a title in 1983. At least the fans got a piece of the $3 million the team got for Erving. Sort of.

8. Reds give up in Frank

In 1965, Frank Robinson was only 30 years old, but Cincinnati Reds owner Red Dewitt seemed to believe it was an old 30. The Reds gave up the outfielder to Baltimore for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun and Dick Simpson. The next season, Robinson won the Triple Crown, MVP and World Series MVP on the way to a World Series title for the Orioles. He won another title in 1970 and made five more All-Star Games.

9. Cowboys plunder Vikings Herschel

Dallas Cowboys: Herschel Walker for a Super Bowl core: The largest trade in NFL history might also be the most important one as it gave way to the dynasty that was the Cowboys in the ‘90s. The Cowboys landed eight draft picks and five players for Herschel Walker in 1989, which they used to select Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson, among others. Dallas went on to win three Super Bowls in four years thanks to this very deal. © Provided by FOXSports The largest trade in NFL history might also be the most important one as it gave way to the dynasty that was the Cowboys in the ‘90s. The Cowboys landed eight draft picks and five players for Herschel Walker in 1989, which they used to select Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson, among others. Dallas went on to win three Super Bowls in four years thanks to this very deal. The Vikings wanted Herschel Walker and put together an 18-player trade -- still the largest in NFL history -- to make it happen. The Cowboys had Walker's rights after the USFL folded, and he spent a little more than three seasons with the Cowboys, running for 1,514 yards in 1988. Jimmy Johnson didn't care much about the five current pros Minnesota sent in the deal. He wanted the package of draft picks -- which included two first-rounders -- and he built a dynasty with them. Walker never ran for more than 825 yards in two-plus seasons with Minnesota, and joined the U.S. bobsled team, raising questions about his commitment to the game. Meanwhile, Dallas used its two first-round picks on Emmitt Smith and Alvin Harper, adding Darren Woodson with a second-round pick and fortifying the foundation of a team that won three Super Bowls in five seasons.

10. Calgary gives up too soon on Brett Hull

Hull was a college star at Minnesota-Duluth, but in four seasons in the Calgary Flames organization -- including just one in the NHL -- Hull was uninspiring and the team was unimpressed with his conditioning. They dealt him and Steve Bozek to St. Louis for Rob Ramage and goaltender Rick Wamsley. Hull led the Blues in scoring with 41 goals the next season, and the team got him to focus on his skating and conditioning. He racked up 228 goals in the next three seasons, the third-highest three-season total in NHL history, and became league MVP in 1991. It was an awful trade, but it's worth asking whether Hull would have become the player he did if he'd spent the next decade in Calgary, instead of St. Louis. 

Related slideshow: NBA mock draft now that lottery has happened (Provided by Fox Sports)

The 2017 NBA Draft is incredibly deep, with all 30 first-round picks likely to produce for their teams sooner than later — and the Boston Celtics get their pick of the whole batch.The Celtics cashed in on the 2013 trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in exchange for the right to swap 2017 first-rounders with the Nets. Brooklyn, which finished the 2016-17 season with the worst record in the NBA, technically won the lottery, only to watch the pick go to Boston.Oh, and good news if you're a Lakers fan: Los Angeles beat the odds to keep its 2017 first-round pick, which ended up No. 2 overall.Now that the draft order is set, here's our first-round mock for the 2017 NBA Draft. Will your favorite team find the next superstar of tomorrow or be doomed to another year in the lottery?(All stats via Sports-Reference, measurements via Draft Express.) 2017 NBA mock draft and lottery results

Derrick Rose of the Knicks in action against the Magic on Dec. 22, 2016 at Madison Square Garden. Next Story

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