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The Biggest Trades in NBA History

Every new NBA season can offer its fair share of substantial moments over the course of the calendar year with one of the most prominent additions to any new campaign being a franchise altering trade acquisition that could forever change the course of NBA folklore.

NBA teams can often choose to part ways with certain players and any affiliated draft picks to acquire the services of other players from rivalling teams that may be interested in moving on from their current club of operation.

There is certainly a huge amount of risks that are involved when trading for an NBA star as any drop off in sheer quality can result in countless years of lost picks and rebuilding, such as the one that was present with the Brooklyn Nets when they traded all their draft picks for an ageing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

However, if a trade is successfully completed, there is an increased chance that the team in question will strive for championship glory thanks to their latest acquisition.

These are some of the biggest trades in NBA history that have since greatly impacted the sport as we know it and affected all the teams involved for better or worse:

  • Kawhi Leonard from San Antonio Spurs to Toronto Raptors:
    After previously winning a championship in 2014 and being named as the Finals MVP after a terrific showing over a stacked Miami Heat roster, two-way sensation Kawhi Leonard became the latest starlet in the fabled San Antonio Spurs franchise.

    It seemed that Kawhi and the Spurs were a match made in heaven yet there grew a continuous concern over the superstar's health after he suffered a mysterious knee injury that caused ruptures in the San Antonio locker room during the 2017/18 season.

    With Kawhi's relationship with his teammates and the Spurs front office turning sour at the scenes, the Toronto Raptors and their GM Masai Ujiri made a marquee trade to sign the disgruntled star, sending their All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan, Center Jakob Poeltl and a first round pick over to the Spurs for Leonard’s services

    Leonard only played a single season in Toronto but helped deliver the first and only championship in franchise history over back-to-back champions Golden State Warriors, due to some major injuries to star players in Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson during the Finals.

    After winning his second title and Finals MVP, Kawhi would soon bolt from Toronto during the offseason to sign with his hometown club in the LA Clippers, changing the course of NBA history in the process.

  • Kevin Durant from Brooklyn Nets to Phoenix Suns:
    Speaking of Kevin Durant, the former league MVP and two-time champion has endured his fair share of commotion following his blockbuster move from Brooklyn to Phoenix earlier this year during the NBA trade deadline.

    This was a move that sent shockwaves around the entire NBA and propelled the Suns back into title contention which is dubiously replicated in the latest NBA odds on the DraftKings sportsbook.

    Following a disgruntled off season and an inconsistent start to the 2022/23 NBA regular season, Durant requested a trade from the Nets which they reluctantly accepted, sending the All-NBA forward to the Phoenix Suns in a four-team trade that saw the Nets pocket five first round picks as well as Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.

  • Kevin Garnett from Minnesota Timberwolves to Boston Celtics:
    Despite winning league MVP and guiding the T-Wolves to their greatest individual tenure in franchise history, Kevin Garnett became increasingly restless with the dysfunctional team after a turbulent few years that saw the Wolves fail to reach the playoffs following their 2004 Western Conference Finals appearance.

    Minnesota GM and former Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale soon orchestrated a monumental trade that sent Garnett to the C's which the frustrated superstar soon agreed to after the Celtics traded for fellow All-Star Ray Allen on Draft night to pair with their long-tenured small forward Paul Pierce.

    In July of 2007, McHale dealt Garnett to Boston for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff and two future first-round picks, in a move that instantly paid off for the Celtics as they completed the greatest single season turnaround in NBA history and claim their record 17th NBA championship the following year.

    Garnett would become a Celtics legend in the process as the "Big-three" of Garnett, Pierce and Allen soon began a new era in NBA history that centered around the focus of creating a super team through the compliment of All-Stars following the Celtics’ successful 2007/08 campaign.

    Some other notable NBA trades throughout the course of history include Wilt Chamberlain’s monumental departure from Philadelphia to join the LA Lakers, hall of fame point guard Oscar Robertson’s arrival in Milwaukee from the formally labelled Cincinnati Royals (now Sacramento Kings) and finally the legendary trade between the Bucks and Lakers that sent Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to LA which kickstarted the ‘Showtime Lakers’ dynasty years.