Isaiah Thomas is establishing himself as a legend with Boston Celtics and their fans. As he’s excelled in the playoffs despite enormous personal tragedy, it has many fans wondering what the Sacramento Kings were thinking when they let him go. The Phoenix Suns made the same mistake with Isaiah (they got the 28th pick and Marcus Thornton when they traded IT to Boston), but the Kings managed to get a far more meager return.
That said, the Isaiah Thomas trade still might not be the worst trade the Kings have made. It’s certainly a strong contender, but the Kings have such a wonderful history of awful trades, there are multiple strong contenders.
2014: Kings trade Isaiah Thomas to the Phoenix Suns for a Traded Player Exception and the rights to Alex Oriakhi
Return: The Kings got a TPE that went unused, and the rights to a player who never played an NBA game and likely never will.
Cost: Isaiah Thomas, who has gone on to be an All-Star and the starting point guard for the number one seed in the East. Thomas is doing this for around $6 million per year, which was above the threshold the Kings wanted to pay him.
2011: Kings trade 7th pick in the draft (Bismack Biyombo) and Beno Udrih for John Salmons and the 10th pick (Jimmer Fredette)
Return: The Kings brought back John Salmons, who GM Geoff Petrie reminded Kings fans had once been the best player on the Kings. The Kings also traded down instead of taking Kemba Walker or Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson or literally almost anyone else in the draft with the 7th pick. The Kings also passed on Klay and Kawhi with the 10th pick.
Cost: Kings gave up Beno Udrih, who was a better player than Salmons and on a better contract, in order to move down in the draft. Jimmer Fredette never lived up to his draft position, and is currently playing in China.
2015: Kings trade Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, 2019 Unprotected first round pick, and two pick swap options for rights to Lithuanian prospect Arturas Gudaitis and Serbian prospect Luka Mitrovic, and a future second round pick.
Return: The Kings got $13 million in cap space that was used to sign Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos and Marco Belinelli. There’s also the small caveat that the Kings could have signed one of those players without making the trade. Neither international prospect shows any signs of ever playing in the NBA.
Cost: Stauskas has become a decent player in Philly, but is still unspectacular. Landry is no longer in the NBA. Jason Thompson currently plays in China. The biggest impact here is that the Kings gave up an unprotected first round pick in 2019 to sign players who ultimately did not help the Kings. The draft swap rights still loom over the upcoming NBA lottery.
2012: Kings trade Omri Casspi and protected first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers to JJ Hickson
Return: Hickson played 35 games for the Kings before pouting his way off the roster.
Cost: Casspi didn’t do much for Cleveland. He eventually found his niche in the NBA before returning to the Kings a few seasons later. The first round pick hung over the Kings heads for years, hindering potential other deals. The protections will finally be cleared this year, unless the Kings’ pick falls outside the top 10 in the lottery.
2008: Kings trade Mike Bibby to the Atlanta Hawks for Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Shelden Williams, Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 2nd round draft pick
Return: The Kings essentially traded Bibby for pure salary relief as they prepared for their first major rebuild.
Cost: Bibby wasn’t as good as he used to be but he still had a couple of productive years for the Atlanta Hawks afterwards. The salary relief the Kings got wasn’t really used for anything and Shelden Williams, the young player in the deal, was never able to secure a rotation spot. The Kings needed to recoup something for a player of Bibby’s quality, and they didn’t.
1988: Kings trade Otis Thorpe to the Houston Rockets for Rodney McCray and Jim Petersen
Return: This is one of the rare bad trades where the Kings actually got a good player. While Petersen didn’t do much in his one year in Sacramento, McCray had a solid couple of years.
Cost: Thorpe however was the best talent in the trade by far. The Kings gave up on him just as he was about to enter his prime and after he averaged 20.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists the season before. He ended up becoming an All-Star in Houston, even though his numbers understandably went down due to playing next to Hakeem Olajuwon. Funnily enough, Thorpe would also end up back on the Kings and end up as part of the greatest trade in Kings history, the one that brought Chris Webber here.
1987: Kings trade Eddie Johnson to the Phoenix Suns for Ed Pinckney and a 1988 2nd round pick
Return: Pinckney played a little over half a year in Sacramento before the Kings used him in combination with Joe Kleine to bring over Danny Ainge on what ended up being a 2 month rental. That 2nd round pick was later traded for Jawann Oldham, who played 54 games of subpar basketball before being waived after a major injury that knocked him out the entire next season.
Cost: Johnson went on to average nearly 17 points a game for the next 6 seasons, including being one of the best shooters in the NBA. He also won the NBA’s 6th man of the Year award for the Suns.
1986: Kings trade Larry Drew, Mike Woodson, a 1988 1st round pick and a 1989 2nd round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Derek Smith, Junior Bridgeman and Franklin Edwards
Return: Smith never recovered from a knee injury and was waived by the Kings in 1989 after two and a half very uninspiring seasons. Bridgeman never played for the Kings and Edwards played garbage minutes over two years.
Cost: Trading for Smith indirectly caused the Kings to also end up trading Eddie Johnson and Otis Thorpe so as to recoup some value lost in the Smith trade. The Kings also lost out on draft picks and two veterans in Drew and Woodson who gave more to the Kings than Smith ever did. The Kings went from making the playoffs in their debut year to not making the playoffs until 9 seasons later.
So there we have it. The 8 worst trades in Kings history. But which one was the worst? Vote below.
What’s the worst trade in Kings history?
This poll is closed
Isaiah Thomas trade
The Jimmer/John Salmons trade
The Philly trade
The JJ Hickson trade
The Derek Smith trade
The Eddie Johnson trade
The Otis Thorpe trade
The Mike Bibby trade