The Most Pivotal NBA Trades Of All Time
Trades are a vital part of the NBA and these examples will show you why
Trading in the NBA can sometimes be controversial—such as the recent trade that sent the DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans—but they are often times crucial to one team or the other. We’ve listed down some of the most important trades in NBA history.
Chicago Bulls, 1987
The Bulls traded in Olden Polynice to the Sonics in exchange for Scottie Pippen, who quickly became Michael Jordan’s running mate and is still considered as one of the 50 best players of all time. The partnership between Jordan and Pippen is often considered the best wing combination in NBA history and Pippen is credited with helping secure the Bulls’ three-peat.
LA Lakers, 1996
The Lakers have a reputation of often being on the winning end of its NBA deals, but the trade that landed Kobe Bryant with the team is arguably one of the best. Bryant was exchanged for Vlade Divac in a draft-day deal with the Charlotte Hornets, basically because then-GM Jerry West believed the 17-year-old would become a superstar. The rest is history, with Bryant finishing his career with five titles.
Dallas Mavericks, 1998
Dirk Nowitzki was traded from the Bucks to the Mavericks in exchange for Robert Traylor, although Nowitzki was virtually an unknown talent at that point. However, his skill was eventually honed and the 7-footer made a name for himself for his shot beyond the arc and his ability to beat his man off the dribble. Nowitzki eventually led the team to its only NBA title.
Miami Heat, 2004
In what was first considered a losing deal, Miami Heat traded in Caron Butler, Lamar Odom and Brian Grant for Shaquile O’Neal, right when his drama with Bryant proved to be too much for the Lakers. The trade, however, paid off in 2006 when O’Neal and Dwyane Wade helped secure the franchise’s first title.
San Antonio Spurs, 2011
The Spurs’ all-important transition from Tim Duncan to Kawhi Leonard would not have been possible without its pivotal draft-night trade. The team traded in George Hill for Leonard, Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek. Since then, Leonard has become one of the league’s best two-way players and is currently at his career-high of 25.9 points.