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10 Biggest Trades minus LeBron

Written by Charlie Jimenez   
Saturday, 18 October 2014 22:19

A seismic change took place in the NBA this summer, as LeBron James returned home. The 29-year-old has gone back to Ohio to re-join hometown club the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending his four-year association with the Miami Heat. His heralded return has seen bookmakers such as Betfair install the side as favourites for the 2014/15 NBA Championship.

The return of James is a blockbuster piece of business for the Cavaliers. If his return warrants a maiden NBA crown then it has to be viewed as a major success. The trade of James to the Heat was a hugely successful trade for the South Coast side - arguably the best trade in history. And although LeBron has not been traded back it does invoke memories of his decision a few years back.

So who were the greatest trades of all time?

Kevin Garnett – Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics 2007


Kevon Garnett by Keith Allison

America’s most successful franchise had been wallowing in the mire before 2007, having not won a title since 1986. This consistent mediocrity forced General Manager Danny Ainge into making a decision, a very bold one at that. The Celtics traded Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and two first round picks in the 2009 draft for the face of the Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett. Ainge gave away a lot in order to land his man.

His gamble paid off instantaneously. Garnett formed an intrinsic partnership with fellow new signing Ray Allen and by the end of the year; the Celtics were celebrating their 17th championship. Garnett took the Celtics from the periphery of the NBA into perennial title contenders.

Shaquille O’Neal – LA Lakers to the Miami Heat 2004

Shaquille O’Neal by Keith Allison

Back in 1996 Shaquille O’Neal became one of the biggest free agent signings of all time, leaving the Orlando Magic to join the LA Lakers. If that was big, it was nothing on the move that happened eight years later. Shaq was at the end of his Lakers journey and was only too happy to return to Florida, this time with the Miami Heat. What was great about the trade is that it benefitted both clubs profusely.

Shaq - alongside Dwayne Wade - led the Heat to the 2006 NBA title. In return for O’Neal the Lakers were rewarded with Caron Butler, Brian Grant and Lamar Odom, alongside a first round draft pick in 2006 and a second-round pick in 2007. To the masses Lamar Odom is known as the guy who married one of the Kardashian’s, but back in the noughties he established himself as one of the most important Lakers players on the roster, playing a key role in the Lakers three final appearances throughout the years of 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Dirk Nowitzki – The Milwaukee Bucks to the Dallas Mavericks 1998

Dirk Nowitzki by Keith Allison

Draft day is usually the biggest trading occasion of the year, 1998 proved to be no different. The legacy of that 1998 draft is still felt today. The Dallas Mavericks were in possession of the sixth pick of the draft which they used to acquire Robert “Tractor” Traylor. The Milwaukee Bucks used their No. 9 pick to sign German wunderkind Dirk Nowitzki. Not long after the ink had dried Traylor was on his way to Milwaukee while Nowitzki made the journey to Dallas.

After a few teething problems Nowitzki established himself as the powerhouse player we know and love. He guided the Mavericks to their first ever title in 2011 and by having the best 7-foot shooter in NBA history the Mavericks are permanent title contenders. As for Traylor, his career never reached the dizzying heights that his draft pick suggested; by 2005 he was out of the NBA. Tragically Traylor died of a heart attack in 2011.

Dennis Rodman – The San Antonio Spurs to the Chicago Bulls 1995

You never really know where to start with Dennis Rodman. In recent years he has become friends with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Rodman is as crazy as they come, but he could he play basketball. In 1995, his zany antics had proven too much for the already mad Spurs locker room, so, when in 1995 the Chicago Bulls came knocking, they were more than willing to do business to get rid of the possibly insane forward.

With Will Purdue and some cash sent to the Texan franchise the Bulls got Rodman. The next three years saw the Bulls win the NBA Championship on every occasion, whilst Rodman stretched his rebounding title to seven consecutive years. Rodman averaged 14.9, 16.1, and 15.0 rebounds per game during his time with the Bulls - not bad for someone who is considered by some to be a wildcard.

Scottie Pippin – The Seattle Supersonics to the Chicago Bulls 1987

When you think of the Chicago Bulls, the name Michael Jordon instantly springs to mind and rightly so - Jordan is one of the all-time greats of the game. However, Jordan will be the first to tell you that the Bulls would never achieved the success they did if it were not for Scottie Pippin.

Jordan’s career with the Bulls was still infantile in the 1986-87 season. It was clear that the Illinois side needed someone to play alongside Jordan, that man was Pippin. After four successful years at the University of Central Arkansas, Pippin entered into the draft.

The Bulls identified the Arkansas native as the ideal man to partner MJ, so they sprang into action when the Seattle Supersonics used their No. 5 pick to get their target. To get their guy the Bulls offered known commodity Olden Polynice, a second-round draft pick in the 1988 draft and a first-round pick in the 1989 draft. Pippin arrived and formed one of the deadliest attacking partnerships of all time. With the Bulls Pippin won six NBA titles, made seven All-Star teams, played on the Dream Team and is a proud member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Had the Supersonics not been prejudiced about the University of Central Arkansas, the greatest basketball pairing of all time would never have happened.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – The Milwaukee Bucks to the LA Lakers 1975

When Wilt Chamberlain retired in 1973 there was a huge void to fill, a void that turned into a chasm. The Lakers turned from the most dominant side in all of America to a meagre shadow of a side. So when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar grew unhappy with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Lakers management went into overdrive as they tried to formulate a deal. In return for Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters, the Californian side were rewarded with Abdul-Jabbar.

The deal was an absolute monster for the Lakers. As would be expected when signing the greatest point scorer in NBA history, they soon returned to competitiveness. In his 14-year career with the Lakers he won five NBA Championships, made 13 NBA All-Star teams and was named the league’s MVP on three occasions. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 38,387 points to his name, a NBA high. The New Yorker saved the Lakers and had he been content at the Bucks, who knows what may have happened to the LA Lakers.

Wilt Chamberlain – Philadelphia 76ers to the LA Lakers 1968

You’ll see that it is a bit of a recurring theme with the Lakers making blockbuster trades. It is this transfer nous that has helped them stay at the top for so long – but the signing of Wilt Chamberlain was the original signing that helped them cement themselves at the top of the basketball pile. Chamberlain is one of the most dominant scorers in the NBA history; he was ruthless in Philly which makes the deal even more incredible for the Lakers, considering the relative cheapness of it all. In return for the centre the Lakers traded three non-essential players: guard Archie Clark, forward Jerrry Chambers and centre Darrall Imhoff. That season Chamberlain had averaged 24.3 points, 23.8 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. Now just take that in for a second. That record is astronomical; it is what you call a dream season. Even more dumb-founding is the fact that the 76ers even entertained the thought of a trade.

As for the Lakers, they had had just lost in the 1968 final to the Boston Celtics and they wanted Chamberlain to ensure they won finals, not just contested them. Unfortunately that was not the case; they lost both the 1969 and 1970 finals. Thankfully it all came good in the 1971-72 season. The Lakers went an incredible 69-13 in the regular season before proceeding to beat the New York Knicks 4-1 in the NBA Finals.

Robert Parish and Kevin McHale – Golden State Warriors to the Boston Celtics 1980
The year 1980 saw the Boston Celtics possess a promising side. They had posted a very good 61-21 season, but they were ultimately stopped by the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. That season also saw the emergence of Larry Bird, who was the reigning rookie for the year.
However, the Celtics were an ageing side. Players like Dave Cowens, Nate Archibald and Pete Maravich were not the players they once were. To remedy the situation, Celtics President Red Auberbach opened negotiations with the Golden State Warriors.
Boston gave away its two first-round picks in the 1980 draft – No. 1 and No. 13 – to the Warriors for their No. 3 pick and centre Robert Parish. The Celtics used their draft pick to get Kevin McHale who was coming out of Minnesota. The rest is history.
Alongside Bird, McHale and Parish formed the “Big Three” - the most dominant attacking triumvirate in the 1980s. Together the trio would win NBA Championship rings in 1981, 1984 and 1986. As for Golden State, they are still waiting for a final appearance.

Magic Johnson – New Orleans Jazz to LA Lakers

Magic Johnson by cliff1066â„¢

Before starting, let us clarify that the Lakers did not get Magic from the Jazz; it would be a lot easier to write if they had. No, it goes something like this. On August 5, 1976, veteran Laker Gail Goodrich was signed by the Jazz as a free agent. In return for the guard the Lakers were awarded the Jazz’s No.1 pick in the 1979 draft.
Three years down the line the No.1 pick was decided by a coin toss between the teams with the two top picks. LA won and with it chose Magic Johnson.
Magic played for just over 12 seasons - a career tragically cut short by contracting HIV. However, during the time he was on the roster he was playing some of the greatest basketball ever seen on the courts. In those 12 years he led the Lakers to eight NBA Finals; winning five of these, and was even named MVP three times in his career.
Had it not been for HIV, Magic’s rap sheet would be even more impressive.
To think, that one of the greatest players in the game was snapped up by a traded veteran three years prior. Gail Goodrich will always be fondly remembered by the Lakers fans - if it wasn’t for him they wouldn’t have been treated to Magic.

Bill Russell – St. Louis Hawks to the Boston Celtics 1956
Draft day 1956 saw the St. Louis Hawks placed in a very precarious position. They had second overall draft pick, but they did not have the capital to get him to put pen to paper. Luckily for the Hawks, the Boston Celtics did have the finance to sign the 6’10” center from San Francisco. That man was Bill Russell.
Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan were shipped to Missouri and Russell became a Celtic. The rest was history.
During that same draft the Celtics signed K.C. Jones and Tom Heinsohn. The combined mass of these three greats saw the Celtics win 11 of the next 13 NBA Titles, and today, Bill Russell is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time.
Could you imagine the whole basketball landscape had St. Louis possessed the dollar?

Last Updated on Monday, 29 December 2014 12:03
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