The Philadelphia 76ers are a franchise of history, tradition, and success, but they also have made some awful transactions in their history.
Who could forget just deciding to trade one of the best big men the game has ever seen in Wilt Chamberlain? Or the awful Charles Barkley deal? We’re going to rank those plus a few others based on the loss the Sixers had in these deals as well as the impact the outgoing players made in their new homes.
These five deals are all bad, you can decide what’s the absolute worst, but the one thing that can be universally agreed upon is that the Sixers lost out on all of these trades.
With that said, let’s get into the list.
No. 5: 2000, Sixers send Bruce Bowen to Chicago, Larry Hughes and Billy Owens to Golden State, and acquire Toni Kukoc
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Yes, before Bowen was one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and won championships with the San Antonio Spurs, he spent one-half of a season in Philadelphia. It wasn’t entirely impressive as he only averaged 7.4 minutes in 42 games and the Bulls released him after the deal, but Kukoc was a disaster. He did not fit next to Allen Iverson and he was sent to the Atlanta Hawks along with Theo Ratliff to acquire Dikembe Mutombo. He averaged 9.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 80 games for Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Bowen went on to be named to the All-Defensive First Team five times and the Second Team three times and he led the league in 3-point shooting in 2002-03 while winning the first of three titles.
No. 4: 2012, Sixers trade Andre Iguodala to Nuggets, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless to Magic, acquire Andrew Bynum from Lakers, Jason Richardson from Magic
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The Bynum deal was such a disaster. The Sixers were looking to build off the surprising success of the 2012 playoffs where they were just one win away from the Eastern Conference finals as a No. 8 seed and were hoping Bynum would be the guy to do it. After all, he did average 18.7 points and 11.7 rebounds and was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, everything went wrong. Bynum suffered knee injuries by hanging out in bowling alleys and he would not even suit up once for Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Richardson would play a grand total of 52 games with the Sixers in three seasons due to injuries.
Down in Orlando, Vucevic has blossomed into one of the best centers in the league before being traded to the Chicago Bulls while Iguodala became a finals MVP with the Warriors in 2015.
No. 3: 1968, Sixers trade Wilt Chamberlain to Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark, and Darrall Imhoff
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You don’t just trade Chamberlain, especially after he just delivered an NBA title in 1967. He averaged a dominating 27.6 points and 23.9 rebounds for the Sixers and he was an All-Star for the entirety of his career in Philadelphia. He went on to have similar success with the Lakers.
Meanwhile, Chambers did not even suit up for the Sixers due to fulfilling a service to the military and while Clark and Imhoff were solid, they just weren’t Chamberlain. It’s a shame that deal happened or else Philadelphia could have had a really dominant run in the East.
No. 2: 1986, Sixers send Moses Malone and Terry Catledge to Bullets for Jeff Ruland and Cliff Robinson
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The Sixers were still a very good team a few years after winning the title in 1983. They still had main pieces from the title team in Malone and Julius Erving and they had just added Charles Barkley in the draft. Then, they decided to trade Malone to the Washington Bullets.
The players they acquired were not bad players. Ruland was an All-Star big man for the Bullets, but with the Sixers, he was injured and he barely played and Robinson was nothing more than a role player. It was one of the most lopsided trades in the history of the league.
Meanwhile, Malone went on to have two great All-Star seasons in Washington. It was a deal the Sixers definitely swung and missed on. You don’t just trade a Finals MVP like Malone. It’s just not a smart deal.
No. 1: 1992, Sixers trade Charles Barkley to Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and Tim Perry
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It isn’t like Hornacek was a bad player, not the case at all, but he is nowhere near Barkley’s level. Barkley was one of the best players in the game regardless of position and he carried the Sixers into the post-Erving and Malone era.
Just to put it in perspective, the Sixers slumped to a 26-56 in the 1992-93 season without Barkley while he went on to win the MVP award in 1993 and he led the Suns to the NBA Finals. That right there just goes to show how awful this trade was. It is absolutely the worst trade this franchise has ever made.
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