We've compiled a ranking of the most traded players in NBA history, based solely on the number of trades in which they took part, disregarding free agent signings and subsequent departures. Let's figure out who they are now!
12. Ish Smith
First on the list is Ish Smith, who, after changing his clothing eleven times between 2010 and now, appears to have eventually found some consistency in his life.
Between one drop and another, Smith was involved in five trades: the first from the Rockets to the Grizzlies in 2011, the second from the Magic to the Bucks and then to the Suns a few months later, the third from the Thunder to the Pelicans in 2015, and the fourth from the Thunder to the Sixers in December of the same year.
In summer 2016, the player decided to marry in Detroit and signed an eighteen-million-dollar three-year contract. He then signed a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards in 2019, which will run through the 2020-21 season.
11. Drew Gooden
Drew Gooden's long journey began when he was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2003 during his rookie year. The following year, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he spent the next three seasons.
In 2008, he was traded to the Bulls in an exchange that included eleven players from 3 distinct teams: the Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, and Los Angeles Clippers, for a total of six trades. If we include the free-agent signings, Gooden has spent 14 NBA seasons with 10 different teams.
10. Shabazz Napier
The good Napier, who was selected in the NBA draft six years ago, has more trades than seasons in the league. We've had seven interactions with the Roxbury native, who has traversed the length and breadth of the United States after being selected by the Charlotte Hornets (and filmed in Miami).
The player was sent to the Magic in the offseason of 2015, but he is headed to Portland in 2016. When his contract with the Brooklyn Nets expires in 2018, his Oregon journey will come to an end. The job is then completed by Minnesota, Denver (a team that was only passing through in a more intricate transaction), and Washington.
9. Luke Ridnour
Luke Ridnour had an average NBA career, totaling roughly 9 points and 4.5 assists in 26 minutes per game, but no trophy and only a few postseason games. But it seems that in 13 seasons, he has only been traded three times, which is still the norm in the NBA. Yet others must be added to these three transactions, for a total of seven, everyone recognizes him more for the specific circumstances that arose around the player at the end of the 2014-15 season than for his parquet numbers.
Despite never leaving his home, Ridnour was engaged in four trades in six days in June 2015: on June 24, he was traded from the Magic to the Grizzlies, who traded him to the Hornets the next day, who traded him to the Thunder the next day, and finally, on June 30, he was sold to the Raptors, who cut him a few days later. Ridnour then announced his retirement in June 2016, after declining to play in the 2015-16 season.
8. Jim Jackson
Jim Jackson, a crystalline shooting guard, was selected fourth overall by the Mavericks in 1992. He averaged nearly 26 points in his third season, and he temporarily formed the "Three Js" alongside Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn, who were both selected the subsequent year.
The trio ended up breaking up soon after, in 1996, following a dispute between Kidd and Jackson, with the latter embarking on a personal tour of the league that saw him play for twelve different teams thanks to the seven trades in which he was involved: first, New Jersey, then Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans, and finally Phoenix, before concluding his career with the Lakers after being cut by the Suns.
7. Sam Cassell
Sam Cassell, a three-time NBA champion, is best known for his clutch jumpers in the fourth quarter and the huge balls dance he did to celebrate. Cassell changed shirts seven times during his fifteen years in the League, six of them after a transaction.
The most notable trade was in 1996 when he was traded to the Suns by the Rockets to acquire Charles Barkley; in subsequent years, he played for the Mavericks, the Nets, the Bucks, the Timberwolves, and the Clippers, before finishing his career with the Celtics' Big Three, with whom he won the title in 2008.
6. Otis Thorpe
Otis Thorpe was drafted in the same draft as Michael Jordan by the Kings when the latter was still in Kansas City. Otis played for the Rockets, Trail Blazers, Pistons, Grizzlies, Kings, Wizards, and Heat.
The most famous deal is that of 1997 when the Detroit Pistons traded him for a second-round pick in the 2003 NBA Draft from the Memphis Grizzlies: this pick turned out to be the second overall, and the Pistons used him to draft Darko Milicic, who many consider a complete flop.
5. Joe Smith
Joe Smith was never engaged in any truly significant transactions. It is maybe because, despite a promising start to his career, he never became an All-Star.
After three seasons with the Warriors, Smith went on to play for eleven different NBA teams, participating in seven trades, two of which included Jim Jackson and Sam Cassell, and about which we've already spoken: from the Warriors to the Sixers, then the Bucks, Nuggets, Sixers again, Cavaliers, Thunder, and finally the Lakers.
4. Don MacLean
Don MacLean's NBA career was fleeting: he only lasted nine seasons before retiring in 2001. Despite this, he was traded eight times in just nine years.
The Pistons selected MacLean in 1992, who promptly sold him to the Clippers, who then sold him to the Washington Bullets a few months later. He spent the next three seasons with the Capitoline, winning the Most Improved Player title in his second year, and was then traded to five different teams, including New Jersey, Seattle, Orlando, Houston, and Toronto.
3. Billy Owens
After an outstanding collegiate career alongside Alonzo Mourning, Billy Owens was selected by the Kings with the third overall pick in the 1991 Draft. However, the high expectations for his first year in the League - he was named to the All-Rookie first team in 1992 - did not materialize in the following years, and Owens became nothing more than a bargaining chip in eight transactions.
Owens was traded to the Miami Heat and then to the Sacramento Kings in the years that followed after a deal with Golden State before his NBA debut. In 1999, he set out on a nearly coast-to-coast trek across the United States, traveling from Seattle to Orlando, then to Philadelphia, back to Oakland, Milwaukee, and Detroit in less than a year.
2. Chris Gatling
Chris Gatling was a player who had to be worried about a transfer towards the turn of the millennium. Between 1999 and 2001, the player was involved in six transactions, and if we include the preceding trades, we have a total of nine.
The Sixers traded their first-round pick in 1991 to the Warriors for Manute Bol (then known as Gatling), who later sold him to the Miami Heat; he went on to play for the Nets, Bucks, Magic, Nuggets, Heat, Cavaliers, and Heat once more in the following years.
1. Trevor Ariza
Welcome to Trevor Ariza's amazing world, the most traded NBA player in history. Ariza's itinerary has changed three times since the start of the 2020 season: first from Portland to Houston, then from Texas to Detroit, and lastly from Michigan to Oklahoma, which appeared to be her final destination.
Trevor had not come to grips with the true objectives of the Thunder, who opted to trade him to Miami for a fresh abrupt change of city in his 16th year in the league.
Following these rapid moves, it's evident that the winger has had 11 trades during his otherwise stellar NBA career.