The most traded players in NBA history

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

Jason Ence

May 11th, 2021

Players can get dealt often in their NBA careers, for a variety of reasons. While most will see one or two changes in scenery during their time in the Association, others find themselves always renting property, so they don’t have to sell every year or two.

Here are the five most traded players in NBA history.

Marcus Camby

NBA teams: Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets
Number of times traded: 7
Accolades: 4x All-Defensive Team, 1x Defensive Player of the Year

While many players have been traded seven times, we went with the most decorated, Sam Cassell (more on that later), and the best player of the group, Camby.

One of the best defensive big men in the modern era, Camby was a shot-blocking monster, won Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, and led the league in blocked shots four times. He ranks 12th all-time in blocks, as well.

However, he was moved around the league several times during his career, first from the Raptors to the Knicks, where he backed up Patrick Ewing and became one of the best sixth men in the league in 1999-2000.

In 2002, he was dealt to the Nuggets, where he played for five seasons and became a dominant big man. However, injury issues and playoff failures saw him dealt to the Clippers in 2008.

In his final five seasons, Camby was traded four more times. He was moved to Portland, then Houston, back to the Knicks, and finally back to the Raptors, who bought out his contract and effectively ended his career in 2013.

Sam Cassell

NBA teams: Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics
Number of times traded: 7
Accolades: 1x All-Star, 3x NBA champion

Nobody on this list had a better start to their career than Cassell, who won a pair of NBA championships in his first two years in the league, with Houston.

After this third season, he was moved as part of a package deal for Charles Barkley, and then was dealt by Phoenix, after just 22 games, to the Mavericks, in a deal for Jason Kidd. He lasted just 16 games there, before another trade sent him to New Jersey.

Cassell was traded again, every few seasons, first to Milwaukee in 1999, and to Minnesota in 2003, before he joined the Clippers via trade in 2005. He played in Los Angeles for two years, then signed a deal with Boston for one final season, where — just like he did to start his career — he collected an NBA championship ring.

He was traded one final time, for salary cap purposes, to Sacramento, and was released.

Dale Ellis

NBA teams: Dallas Mavericks, Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls
Number of times traded: 8
Accolades: 1x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, Most Improved Player

Of the players on this list, Ellis is arguably the best.

During his 17 year career, Ellis averaged nearly 16 points per game, and averaged at least 24 points four straight seasons for the Sonics, after his first trade saw him come over from Dallas in 1986. In his first year with Seattle, he was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, and scored an average of 24.9 points per game.

Ellis was an All-Star in 1989 and won the three-point contest. During that season, he also became the first player in NBA history to complete a pair of four-point plays in the same game. However, he was traded to Milwaukee in 1990, where he became a bench player for a season and a half.

He became a starter again in 1992, after a trade to San Antonio, but as his career dwindled, he was moved five times over three years. He was cut upon his final trade to Miami and never played again. At the time of his retirement, only Reggie Miller had more made three-pointers.

Chris Gatling

NBA teams: Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers
Number of times traded: 8
Accolades: 1x All-Star

Although he played just eleven years in the NBA, Gatling played for eight different franchises.

He began his career with the Warriors, where he played four full seasons, but he was dealt in his fifth. After a short period in Miami, he was traded to Dallas, which he represented in the All-Star Game, but he was traded just a few days after the game, to the Nets.

Gatling finally found some stability in New Jersey, for about two years, but then became a nomad, as he played for five other teams in four years.

He retired from the NBA in 2002, and went to Russia to play for a season before he ended his basketball career. Gatling’s major claim to fame is being known as one of the first players to frequently wear a headband.

Trevor Ariza

NBA teams: New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat
Number of times traded: 9
Accolades: 1x NBA champion

Ariza was not even in the top five for the most trades in an NBA career until March of this year, when he was dealt for the ninth time, and the fourth since the end of last season. Ariza was traded to Houston from Portland in November, and within the next six days, he was moved to Detroit and then to Oklahoma City. His most recent deal sent him to Miami, the latest in a line of moves to clear cap space.

The 35-year-old opted out of last year’s bubble season, but has now been a part of 12 different NBA teams. While he did not play a game for the Rockets, Pistons, or Thunder, he is a starter for the Heat this season and averages 9.5 points per game.

Ariza’s best stretch of his career came after a trade to the Lakers, where he won an NBA championship in 2009. With his contract set to expire at this end of the season, it is unlikely he will be dealt for cap space again.