4. Caron Butler
Butler spent his first two seasons in Miami where he showed plenty of promise, including helping the Heat reach the second round of the playoffs in 2004. The 6’7 wing was traded to Los Angeles in the summer of 2004 as part of a package that brought Shaquille O’Neal to the Heat and split up the Kobe and Shaq duo. The Lakers also acquired Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and two draft picks for the Big Diesel.
Butler spent just one year in Los Angeles where he averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 35.7 minutes per game. He set a new career-high in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, effective field goal percentage, scoring, and rebounding during his lone season with the Lakers, but LA missed the playoffs for just the second time since 1977.
Butler had strong chemistry with Kobe Bryant and was the Lakers’ second-leading scorer, but that did not stop Mitch Kupchak from trading him to the Wizards in 2005 for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit. Brown never lived up to the hype of being the number-one overall pick, and Butler took his game to new heights in Washington. The 6’7 wing made two All-Star appearances and twice averaged over 20 points per game.
The Los Angeles Lakers were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in each of the next two years after the trade as Kobe carried a subpar roster. Things could have easily been different if they kept Caron Butler, but LA gave up on him too soon.