The NBA player that played for the most teams is a four-way tie between Chucky Brown, Jim Jackson, Tony Massenburg, and Joe Smith. Each of these players has played with twelve NBA teams throughout their career.
With four of the top five already being distinguished, there is another tie for the SECOND most teams a player has played for. Mike James, Kevin Ollie, and Ish Smith have all played for eleven teams throughout their career. However, because Ish Smith's career is still ongoing, he still can beat the record. As a result, we'll be including Ish Smith instead of Mike James and Kevin Ollie for the fifth spot.
If you want to know more about Mike James and Kevin Ollie, I'll briefly put their career stats and Basketball References below the Table of Contents.
Table of Contents:
Mike James Career Stats:
9.9 Points, 2.2 Rebounds, 3.5 Assists, 0.8 Steals, and 0.1 Blocks
42 FG%, 37.9 3P%, 80.2 FT%
Kevin Ollie Career Stats:
3.8 Points, 1.5 Rebounds, 2.3 Assists, 0.5 Steals.
41 FG%, 31 3P%, 79.2 FT%
Ish Smith (11 Teams):
Ish Smith is an undrafted point guard that has played for eleven teams throughout his eight-year (and ongoing) NBA career. Smith has played for the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Detroit Pistons. He is currently played with the Washington Wizards (2020-2021 NBA season).
His best season was during the 2015-2016 NBA season when he played for the Philadelphia 76ers. This was before the 76ers had acquired Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and when Joel Embiid was healthy. During the 2015-2016 NBA season, the 76ers were tanking to get the first pick in the upcoming draft, Ben Simmons (which they did). The 76ers ended up going 10-72, the worst losing record in 76ers history.
Since the 76ers weren't really focused on winning, they gave Ish Smith, who doesn't typically get that many minutes (20.2 minutes), twelve more minutes than usual (32.4 minutes per game). During that season, Smith averaged:
14.7 Points, 4.3 Rebounds, 7 Assists, 1.3 Steals, and 0.4 Blocks.
40.5 FG%, 33.6 3P%, 66.9 FT%
Throughout his career, Smith averaged:
7.7 Points, 2.5 Rebounds, 3.9 Assists, 0.7 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks.
43 FG%, 32.2 3P%, 67.8 FT%
Joe Smith (12 Teams):
Now... let's start our four-way tie for the players that played for the most teams with Joe Smith.
Throughout his sixteen-year career, Smith played for the Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks, New Jersey Nets, and last but not least, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite the same last name, Joe Smith and Ish Smith are NOT related.
Joe Smith was a power forward/center drafted FIRST OVERALL in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.
If the Golden State Warriors were looking to add a big man to their roster, they could have drafted Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyess, Theo Ratliff, or Rasheed Wallace. In the Warriors defense, Joe Smith didn't start as that bad a player. In his rookie season, Joe Smith averaged:
15.3 Points, 8.7 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Steal, and 1.6 Blocks.
45.8 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 77.3 FT%
Smith's performance during his rookie season was so good that it garnered him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
During his first three years with the Golden State Warriors, Joe Smith looked like he was going to turn out to be an All-Star, and at the bare minimum, a good starter for a playoff team. Throughout his three years with the Warriors, Smith averaged:
17 Points, 8.2 Rebounds, 1.3 Assists, 1 Steal, and 1.2 Blocks.
44.9 FG%, 27.2 3P%, 78.8 FT%
Midway through the 1997-1998 NBA season, Smith expressed his desire to go back to the East coast, so during the mid-trade deadline, the Golden State Warriors traded away Smith and Brian Shaw for Clarence Weatherspoon and Jim Jackson.
Smith's impressive performance during his rookie year garnered him a spot on the All-NBA Rookie First Team. He would also finish third in Rookie of the Year Voting.
During his time with the Golden State Warriors, it looked like Smith would turn out to be an All-Star and, at minimum, an above-average starter for a playoff team. In his two and a half seasons with the Warriors, Smith averaged:
17 Points, 8.2 Rebounds, 1.3 Assists, 1 Steal, and 1.2 Blocks.
44.9 FG%, 27.2 3P%, 78.8 FT%
However, midway through the 1997-1998 NBA season, Smith expressed his desire to play for an East coast team. As a result, since Smith's contract would be expiring that year, the Warriors would trade away Joe Smith and Brian Shaw to the Philadelphia 76ers for Clarence Weatherspoon and Jim Jackson.
After this trade, Joe Smith's production slowly declined, and he never put up the same numbers he did while he on the Golden State Warriors. Smith's career averages were:
10.9 Points, 6.4 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 0.6 Steals, and 0.8 Blocks.
45.5 FG%, 23.8 3P%, 79 FT%
Tony Massenburg (12 Teams):
Tony Massenburg was also a power forward/center, but he was drafted in the 1990 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs with the 43rd pick. Surprisingly, there was still a player after the 43rd pick that the Spurs could have chosen if they wanted a power forward/center. Only two picks later, the Indiana Pacers would draft Antonio Davis, who would become a 1x All-Star. Another player who wasn't a power forward/center that the Spurs could have drafted was 1x All-Star Cedric Ceballos.
Throughout his career, Massenburg played for the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey Nets, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, and the Charlotte Hornets.
Massenburg's rookie year was not good. He averaged:
2.3 Points, 1.7 Rebounds, 0.1 Assists, 0.1 Steals, and 0.3 Blocks.
45 FG%, 62.2 FT%
After his rookie season, where he played thirty-five games, he would only play eighteen more NBA games and go to the Spanish Pro Basketball League (Liga ACB). Within those eighteen games, Massenburg played for FOUR different teams:
San Antonio Spurs (1 Game)
Charlotte Hornets (3 Games)
Boston Celtics (7 Games)
Golden State Warriors (7 Games)
During his two seasons in the Liga ACB, Massenburg played for the Unicaja Mayoral and the FC Barcelona Banca Catalana. During those two seasons, Massenburg averaged:
15.5 Points, 8.9 Rebounds, 0.4 Assists, 0.9 Steals, and 1.3 Blocks.
55.9 FG%, 68.7 FT%
After those two seasons, Massenburg would return to the NBA and play for the Los Angeles Clippers. This time around, Massenburg was here to stay. For the next decade, Massenburg would be on nine different teams. His best season was in the 1998-999 NBA season with the Vancouver Grizzlies. He averaged:
11 Points, 6 Rebounds, 0.5 Assists, 0.6 Steals, and 0.9 Blocks
48.7 FG%, 66.5 FT%
Jim Jackson (12 Teams):
Out of all the players here, Jim Jackson is probably the best out of all of them. Jackson was a shooting guard/small forward drafted in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks with the fourth pick.
Throughout his career, Jackson played for the Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trailblazers, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, and Los Angeles Lakers.
Due to a contract dispute, Jackson would only play twenty-eight games in his rookie year. If he had played during the entire regular season, Jackson would have most likely been a part of the All-NBA Rookie First Team as he averaged:
16.3 Points, 4.4 Rebounds, 4.7 Assists, 1.4 Steals, and 0.4 Blocks.
39.5 FG%, 28.8 3P%, 73.9 FT%
Similar to Josh Smith, Jim Jackson had an amazing start to his career. It seemed like Jackson would most likely be an All-Star caliber player. In his third year, still with the Dallas Mavericks, Jackson averaged:
25.7 Points, 5.1 Rebounds, 3.7 Assists, 0.5 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks.
47.2 FG%, 31.8 3P%, 80.5 FT%
Jackson would have been an All-Star that season if it weren't for an ankle injury fifty-one games into the season. However, once we got back from the ankle injury, Jackson would not play at that caliber again.
The next season, the tension between Jackson and his former teammate Jason Kidd was high as it was rumored that there was a love triangle between Jim Jackson, Jason Kidd, and singer Toni Braxton. As a result, Jackson would be traded to the New Jersey Nets in a huge deal that involved nine different players.
Another notable event that pops up is that he was involved in another trade that we've already mentioned that involved Joe Smith.
The rest of Jackson's career would be pretty decent. He averaged:
14.3 Points, 4.7 Rebounds, 3.2 Assists, 0.8 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks.
42.8 FG%, 36.5 3P%, 82.5 FT%
Chucky Brown (12 Teams):
Finally, the last NBA player that played for the most teams is Chucky Brown. Brown's career was not as eventful as the others listed here, but he still had a long thirteen-year career. Brown was a small forward/power forward drafted in the 1989 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 43rd pick.
During his NBA career, Brown played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angles Lakers, New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, and the Sacramento Kings.
Throughout his career, Brown averaged:
5.9 Points, 3.1 Rebounds, 0.8 Assists, 0.3 Steals, and 0.3 Blocks
49.1 FG%, 22.7 3P%, 69.9 FT%
Brown would win a championship with the Houston Rockets in the 1994-95 NBA Season. During the playoffs, Brown would average:
4.5 Points, 3.1 Rebounds, 0.3 Assists, 0.4 Steals, and 0.1 Blocks
44.7 FG%, 50 3P%, 67.6 FT%
Chucky Brown now serves as a scout for the New Orleans Pelicans, so who knows, maybe Brown was the one who had eyes on Zion Williamson (but then again, everybody did).