The annual trade deadline came and went Thursday with a few big-name NBA players, including Rajon Rondo and Victor Oladipo, off to new destinations. Their new teams – the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat, respectively — see them as valuable pieces who can help win an extra playoff series of two.
There was a time when Luke Ridnour was a valuable piece in trades – four in a week, to be precise. Ridnour isn’t the most traded player in NBA history, but no one has ever been dealt so often in such a short period of time.
Quentin Richardson set a standard for rapid-fire trades
Before there was Luke Ridnour, there was Quentin Richardson, a 6-foot-6 swingman out of DePaul. Richardson enjoyed a 13-year NBA career playing for five teams. Richardson was also at one time a member of five teams in a span of seven weeks.
What made his four trades in such a short time so interesting is that Richardson was no throw-in or salary-cap pawn. All four of the deals were in exchange for legitimate (or nearly legit) NBA players, beginning with the New York Knicks sending him to the Memphis Grizzlies for Darko Milicic in a draft-day on June 25, 2009.
On July 17, the Grizzles traded Richardson to the Los Angeles Clippers for Zach Randolph. Three days later, the Clippers moved Richardson to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a package that included Sebastian Telfair.
If Richardson had moved his belongings to Minneapolis shortly after that transaction, then it was premature on his part. The Timberwolves traded him to the Miami Heat for Mark Blount on Aug. 13.
Richardson squeezed out one decent season as a starter in Miami, averaging 8.9 points and 4.9 rebounds, before spending the last three seasons of his career as a rotation player.
Luke Ridnour didn’t need an NBA deadline to be traded
Luke Ridnour entered the NBA in 2003 as a 6-foot-2 combo guard out of Oregon, and his career was fairly similar to that of Quentin Richardson. Ridnour played for five NBA teams as was an adequate perimeter threat who averaged 9.3 points and 4.5 assists a game over a dozen seasons.
The last contract that he signed was a two-year deal with the Orlando Magic at a modest salary for NBA players before the 2014-15 season, and Ridnour averaged 4.0 points and 2.0 assists in 47 games.
The season ended and then the fun began. On June 25, 2015, the Magic traded Ridnour to the Memphis Grizzlies. Within hours, Memphis had shipped him to the Charlotte Hornets for Matt Barnes. In the third trade of the day, Charlotte traded Ridnour to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeremy Lamb.
Five days later, OKC traded Ridnour to the Toronto Raptors for Tomislav Zubcic.
What was behind Luke Ridnour being traded so frequently?
The rapid sequence of trades involving Luke Ridnour in 2015 was ultimately a matter of allowing teams to clear cap space. As the team doing the dealing at the end of the sequence, the Oklahoma City Thunder came away with a $2.85 million trade exception based on what was left on Ridnour’s non-guaranteed contract.
By that point in his career, Ridnour was a dime-a-dozen guard within the ranks of NBA players, so the trade exception was more valuable than the player. When the Raptors waived Ridnour nine days later to avoid having to pay him for the season, his career was over.
Rolling Stone asked Ridnour if the flurry of trades left him feeling unloved.
“No,” he said. “As my agent said, they’re trading your contract, not you.”
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.