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10 most successful NBA trade deadline deals of all-time

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The best NBA trade deadline deals are the ones that help improve a team drastically. It is the ability to make a risky move in hopes of bringing the team from an average playoff contender to a championship hopeful.

Best NBA trade deadline deals

Some of the biggest NBA trade deadline trades ever are ones that were least expected. They are also one’s that shook up the entire league.

Whether it led to a championship in the future, or a long run of playoff appearances, the top NBA trade deadline moves always result in more wins. Here are the top 10 best NBA trade deadline deals of all time.

10. Heat trade for Tim Hardaway (Feb. 22, 1996)

The Miami Heat were the big winners in acquiring Tim Hardaway from the Golden State Warriors before the 1996 trade deadline. Miami received both Hardaway and Chris Gatling in exchange for Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles.

His first full season with Miami was a huge success. He was fourth in MVP voting in 1996-97 and helped lead the team to 61 wins and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.


He was named to the NBA All-Star Game in both 1997 and 1998 and was selected to the All-NBA First Team in 1997.

9. Jazz trade for Jeff Hornacek (Feb. 24, 1994)

It is easy to overlook this trade, but it was an important one for the Utah Jazz back in 1994. The Jazz received Jeff Hornacek, Sean Green, and a 1995 second-round pick in exchange for Jeff Malone and a first-round pick from the 76ers.

It looked as though Philadelphia got the best player in Malone, but because of injuries, his career with the 76ers did not work out. Hornacek on the other hand was exactly who the Jazz needed to make a deep playoff run.

He averaged 14.4 points per game with the Jazz during his time there and shot 42.8% from three. Hornacek was a key reason as to why Utah went to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998.

8. Suns trade for Kevin Johnson (Feb. 25, 1988)

The trade for Kevin Johnson is not only one of the best NBA trade deadlines deals ever but might be one of the most important moves in Phoenix Suns history. The Suns traded Larry Nance, Mike Sanders, and a 1988 first-round draft pick to the Cavaliers in exchange for Kevin Johnson, Tyrone Corbin, Mark West, a 1988 first-round pick, and two second-round picks (1988 & 1989).


Phoenix was 28-54 the year they traded for Johnson. He completely changed the course of the team’s future after that, leading them to the Western Conference Finals while averaging 20.4 points per game in just his second season in the league.

Johnson was a three-time All-Star with the team and was a part of the 1992-93 team that made the NBA Finals.

7. Knicks trade for Carmelo Anthony (Feb. 22, 2011)

One of the biggest NBA trade deadline trades ever, the Knicks, Nuggets, and Timberwolves agreed on a 12-player trade that involved star Carmelo Anthony.

The Nuggets received Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari, a 2014 first-round draft pick, and two future second-round picks from New York. In exchange, the Knicks received Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter, Corey Brewer, and a second-round draft pick. The Timberwolves got $3 million in return, along with Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph.

Anthony was the star the Knicks needed, having not made the playoffs since 2004. With Anthony, New York made the playoffs three straight seasons, advancing past the first round once. In his six full seasons with the team, Anthony was named an NBA All-Star all six times.

6. 76ers trade for Dikembe Mutombo (Feb. 23, 2001)

The Philadelphia 76ers made a huge splash at the 2001 trade deadline when acquiring Dikembe Mutombo from the Hawks. The 76ers sent Theo Ratliff, Toni Kukoc, Nazr Mohammed, and Pepe Sanchez to Atlanta in exchange for Mutombo and Roshown McLeod.

The season of the trade, Mutombo helped Allen Iverson and the 76ers on a run all the way to the NBA Finals, where they fell to the Lakers in five games.

Mutombo was named an All-Star the next season and started all 80 games he played for the team in 2001-02.

5. Warriors trade for Andrew Bogut (Mar. 13, 2012)

The Golden State Warriors acquired Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson from the Bucks in exchange for Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown, and Ekpe Udoh at the 2012 trade deadline. The trade was what sparked the beginning of the Warriors’ dominance in the mid-2010s.

Stephen Curry and Ellis were not a good match on the court together, so getting rid of Ellis made it known that it would be Curry’s team from now on. The move also helped the team sign Andre Iguodala by freeing up cap space.

Even though the trade is more remembered for how it led to Curry’s dominance and Iguodala’s Finals MVP, Bogut did turn out to be a key member of the team in that 2015 championship run.

4. Rockets trade for Clyde Drexler (Feb. 14, 1995)

The Rockets were just coming off of a championship in 1994 but knew they needed more if they wanted to repeat. It was the 1995 trade deadline when the Rockets traded Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola, and a 1995 first-round draft pick to Portland in exchange for Clyde Drexler and Tracy Murray.

The trade couldn’t have worked out better, as Drexler was put in a perfect position alongside Hakeem Olajuwon. The Rockets made it to the NBA Finals for the second straight year and swept the Orlando Magic. Drexler averaged 20.5 points per game during that 1995 playoff run.

Drexler would spend three more seasons with the Rockets and be named an NBA All-Star twice.

3. Cleveland trade for Baron Davis and a draft pick (Feb. 24, 2011)

What makes this trade one of the best NBA trade deadline deals of all time is that the draft pick Cleveland received in the trade turned into Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers shipped Jamario Moon and Mo Williams to the Clippers in exchange for Baron Davis and an unprotected first-round draft pick.

The first-round pick would end up being the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. That is when the Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving. Without this trade, Irving would not have played in Cleveland, and LeBron James may have never gone home to bring the city a championship.

Irving was a four-time All-Star with the Cavaliers and hit that big shot late in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals to help Cleveland win the NBA championship.

2. Pistons trade for Rasheed Wallace (Feb. 19, 2004)

This three-team trade at the deadline was one of the most impactful trades in history. The trade involved the Pistons, Hawks, and Celtics. The Hawks received Chris Mills, Zeljko Rebraca, and a 2004 first-round draft pick. The Celtics received Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, and a 2004 first-round pick. The Pistons received Wallace along with Mike James.

The trade had the most immediate impact of any other trade, as the Pistons went on to win the NBA championship that same season. Wallace was a huge reason for that, averaging 13 points per game throughout the playoffs.

Wallace went on to play five full seasons in Detroit and was named an All-Star twice.

1. Lakers trade for Pau Gasol (Feb. 1, 2008)

As far as best NBA trade deadline deals go, this one tops the list. The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol and a second-round draft pick from the Grizzlies in exchange for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, two first-round picks, and the rights to Marc Gasol.

Once Shaquille O’Neal left the Lakers, the team struggled to do anything in the postseason. Kobe Bryant was getting frustrated, and they needed to bring someone in to take them back to championship contender level. That is exactly what the Lakers did in trading for Gasol.

Immediately after the trade, the Lakers made the NBA Finals three years in a row. Although they lost the first time in 2008, Gasol and Bryant led the way the next two seasons as they captured back-to-back championships.

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