10. Goran Dragic for Aaron Brooks
Goran Dragic is in rare air in Suns history: he has been a part of two controversial trades that sent him away from this Suns in his career, and following the second one, he will probably never allow himself to be placed into a third.
By the end of February 2011, the Suns were sitting at a stagnant .500, though the roster was embroiled in a tight playoff race needing a push to get them over the top into the playoffs. Even though Goran Dragic had been tabbed as the future at point guard following Steve Nash’s departure, he was not a high scorer and did not provided the regular kind of kick off the bench the second unit needed to bridge the gap between Nash rests.
To find a way to bridge the gap during Nash rests, the Suns made a move for Aaron Brooks, shipping Goran and a first round pick (more on that in a moment) to the Houston Rockets.
Brooks became available because in 2010-11 he had been suffering from an ankle injury and was still dealing with it’s lingering effects. He was also in a contract year and the Rockets were already well aware of his contractual demands that were likely to price them out of his market.
The year prior, Brooks had been a 19 point scorer for Houston and was seen as a solid upgrade for a reasonable price for the Suns. He too could be the future at point guard, and would be better at the position, sooner
Once acquired Brooks struggled to find his role and never made much of a positive impact and regardless to what degree fans want to place blame on him, Phoenix still wound up missing the playoffs. Even so, because the Suns traded so much to acquire him, they intended on keeping him.
Unfortunately the hopeful point guard of the future was never really given a chance at re-signing because following the 2010-11 season the owners locked the players out and the opportunity to keep him aboard never came.
Needing money, several players left the United States and played for teams around the world. Aaron Brooks was one of those players. But by signing on with the Guangdong Southern Tigers, Brooks was making a specific decision that changed everything for the Suns and really made the original trade to acquire him a complete bust.
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) does not allow players to break a contract with their CBA team to return to the NBA.
Even so many of them did.
Aaron Brooks was the only NBA player to actually play through his entire commitment in China.
Meaning while he had been a Restricted Free Agent when the Suns acquired him, not only would they not have him on the roster in 2012 (when the lockout eventually did lift) but the Suns would have to plan for a replacement for that season knowing that he could still come back for the following year.
Eventually the entire situation was bungled. Brooks came back to the states as a RFA. The Suns offered him a qualifying offer that they eventually pulled making him an UFA. He signed with the Sacramento Kings for two years, and the Suns were left with nothing to show for Dragic, and the first round pick.
By trading Goran Dragic and a first, the Suns got 25 games, 240 points, and 104 assists.
That pick, by the way, ended up landing 23rd overall in the 2011 draft. The Chicago Bulls (who ended up with it following a subsequent trade with Houston) drafted Nikola Mirotic.
Seven picks later they selected Jimmy Butler.