By Ryan Mayer
The NBA trade deadline looms on Thursday, but it’s been quiet over the past couple of years and figures to be again this season. Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest (though not always the best) trades made on deadline day in league history. Listed from oldest to newest:
Feb 25, 1988- The Phoenix Suns made the deal that would be the beginnings of the team that made the Finals in the 1992-93 season by trading F Larry Nance, F Mike Sanders, and a 1988 1st round pick to Cleveland in exchange for G Kevin Johnson, F Tyrone Corbin, C Mark West, 1988 1st and 2nd round picks & a 1989 2nd rounder. The 1988 1st rounder would be used on Dan Majerle. Johnson would go on to average 17 points and 9 assists per game over 12 seasons for the Suns. Phoenix would average 56 wins over the next seven seasons.
Feb 22, 1996- Miami got the point guard to pair with Alonzo Mourning when they traded G Bimbo Coles and F Kevin Willis for G Tim Hardaway and F Chris Gatling. Hardaway would average 17 points and 7 assists per game over six seasons for the Heat. He combined with Mourning to lead Miami to a Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 1996-97.
Feb 20, 1997- The Indiana Pacers brought back point guard Mark Jackson after letting him go in the off-season by trading G/F Vincent Askew, F Eddie Johnson and two 2nd round picks to Denver for Jackson and F/C LaSalle Thompson. Jackson was an integral part of the Pacers teams that would make three appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and one Finals appearance (which they lost in 6 to the Lakers) over the next three seasons.
Feb 22, 2001- The 76ers were always trying to find a second banana to play alongside Allen Iverson and hadn’t been able to do so until this trade with Atlanta in 2001. Philly traded C Theo Ratliff, F Toni Kukoc, C Nazr Mohammed, and G Pepe Sanchez to the Hawks in exchange for C Dikembe Mutombo and F Roshown McLeod. Mutombo in 26 games with the Sixers that year averaged 11 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks per game as Philly made it all the way to the Finals before losing to the Lakers in 5 games.
Feb 20, 2003- The Bucks and Sonics decided to swap star guards in this deal with Seattle sending G Gary “The Glove” Payton and F Desmond Mason to Milwaukee for G Ray Allen, G Kevin Ollie, G Ronald Murray and a conditional draft pick. The trade didn’t really move the needle for either team as both continued to struggle with the best finish being a Western Conference Semis appearance by Allen and the Sonics in 04-05.
Feb 24, 2011- This was a busy trade deadline day with three HUGE deals getting done. First Boston traded G Nate Robinson and C Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for F Jeff Green, C Nenad Kristic and a future 1st round pick. Perkins would help the Thunder reach the Finals the next season. Perkins has since turned into a less than serviceable player for the Thunder but in season 1 he was helpful at least.
Our second trade from the 2011 deadline is one that has not really worked out for the Nets as they traded F Derrick Favors, G Devin Harris, 2011 & 2012 1st round picks to Utah in exchange for G Deron Williams. Williams then signed a 5 year $98 million contract after the 2011-12 season. The Nets have made the playoffs just twice with Williams since the trade. But it wasn’t the biggest trade of the 2011 deadline.
That honor goes to the New York Knicks who traded their entire house and kitchen sink to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony who probably would’ve signed with the Knicks the following summer as a free agent anyway. In a three team deal the Knicks trades G Raymond Felton, F Wilson Chandler, F Danilo Gallinari, C Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 1st round pick, and 2012, 2013 second rounders, for F Carmelo Anthony, G Chauncey Billups, F Renaldo Balkman, G Anthony Carter, and C Shelden Williams. New York made the playoffs that season and each of the two following years, but have been a dumpster fire since and now Melo will sit out the rest of this year in all likelihood after having season ending surgery. Well, we did say the biggest trades in deadline history, not necessarily the best.
March 13, 2012- A later deadline because of the lockout produced two trades that shaped contenders today. Golden State broke up its Ellis and Curry back-court by trading Ellis along with centers Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh to Milwaukee for C Andrew Bogut and G/F Stephen Jackson. Bogut has been the anchor of a top 5 defense for the Warriors when healthy over the past couple seasons since the deal and a big reason why Golden State is considered a favorite to escape the Western Conference.
The Wizards also built for the future on this deadline day trading G Nick Young to the Grizzlies and C Javale McGee and F Ronny Turiaf to Denver for F Nene, F Brian Cook and a 2nd round pick. Nene has been paired with C Marcin Gortat to form a formidable front-court in Washington that has helped the Wizards to the playoffs last year and the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference this season.
The deadline has been pretty much dead over the last two years with teams becoming more wary about these kinds of blockbuster trades, but here’s hoping that something develops this season.