Top 30 NBA Trades of All Time: Which Deals Really Shook Up the League?
Several NBA trades have completely changed a few franchises. Some of the biggest trades in the league have either included big-name players or have drastically benefited one of the teams that acquired new players.
Interestingly, the 2022-23 season had many blockbuster trades, from Kyrie Irving going to Dallas to Kevin Durant joining the Phoenix Suns. However, most of these trades did not result in a championship or good postseason results.
These NBA trades have certainly shaken up the league, but it's too early to tell how good they will be. Fortunately, many other examples of big trades have drastically changed the league.
#1 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to LA Lakers (1975)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of the best NBA players with the Milwaukee Bucks, but was traded to the LA Lakers. He ended up winning five championships in the City of Angels, becoming one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Trade: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley for Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters.
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#2 - Shaquille O'Neal to Miami Heat (2004)
Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004 and won it all two years later. He had a successful tenure with the LA Lakers, but his tensions with Kobe Bryant made him an odd man out. Fortunately for him, he found success in Miami as well.
Trade: Shaquille O'Neal for Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom, a 2006 first-round draft pick and a 2007 second-round draft pick.
#3 - Wilt Chamberlain to LA Lakers (1968)
The Lakers have hit the jackpot with many of their trades. They acquired Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest centers in NBA history, in 1968 and won it all with him four years later.
Trade: Wilt Chamberlain for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff
#4 - Moses Malone to Philadelphia 76ers (1982)
Moses Malone joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 1982, immediately winning the championship with them. The Hall of Famer averaged 25.8 points and 18.0 rebounds per game during the 1983 NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Trade: Moses Malone for Caldwell Jones and 1983 first-round draft pick
#5 - Charles Barkley to Phoenix Suns (1992)
Similar to Malone, Charles Barkley led the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals shortly after they acquired him. However, the forward couldn't win it all as he was beaten by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Trade: Charles Barkley for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry
#6 - Kevin Garnett to Boston Celtics (2007)
One of the top NBA trades took place in 2007 when the Boston Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Celtics formed a superteam with him, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, winning a championship in their first year together.
Trade: Kevin Garnett for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and two first-round draft picks
#7 - Anthony Davis to LA Lakers (2019)
The LA Lakers have been involved in many high-profile NBA trades. One of them landed Anthony Davis in 2019, and the team immediately won a championship. The Lakers are still competitive with Davis and have a chance to win it all in 2023 as well.
Trade: Three-way trade with the New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards.
#8 - Chris Paul to LA Clippers (2011)
The Lakers are not the only team from Los Angeles that has had some big NBA trades. The Clippers acquired Chris Paul in 2011, becoming one of the toughest teams in the West. They didn't win it all, but they were always very competitive.
Trade: Chris Paul for Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and a first-round draft pick
#9 - Carmelo Anthony to New York Knicks (2011)
The New York Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony to become competitive in the East. While Melo and his squad have never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs, this was one of the biggest NBA trades as it turned the Knicks into a dangerous team.
Trade: Carmelo Anthony was involved in a three-team trade that included the Knicks, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Timberwolves. The trade involved 12 players and several draft picks.
#10 - James Harden to Houston Rockets (2012)
The OKC Thunder broke up their core of young talented players by sending James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Harden became a superstar in Texas and even won the MVP award.
Trade: James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin and three draft picks.
#11 - Kawhi Leonard to Toronto Raptors (2018)
Kawhi Leonard is a fantastic two-way player who was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2018. In his first and only season with the team, the forward led the Raptors to their first championship in franchise history.
Trade: Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poltl and a draft pick
#12 - Dennis Rodman to Chicago Bulls (1995)
The San Antonio Spurs sent Dennis Rodman to the Chicago Bulls in 1995. The rebounding specialist spent three years in the Windy City, winning three championships in a row.
Trade: Dennis Rodman for Will Perdue
#13 - Vince Carter to New Jersey Nets (2004)
One of the top NBA trades sent Vince Carter to the New Jersey Nets. With his new team, Carter became one of the best players in the league, but he wasn't able to lead the team to a championship.
Trade: Vince Carter for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first-round picks
#14 - Pau Gasol to LA Lakers (2008)
Pau Gasol was acquired by the LA Lakers in 2008, and he made three straight NBA Finals with the team. While he wasn't victorious in his first year, he ended up winning back-to-back titles.
Trade: Pau Gasol and a second-round pick for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol, Aaron McKie and two first-round picks
#15 - Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn Nets (2013)
Despite being no longer in their primes, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were shipped to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013. While this is one of the biggest NBA trades of all time that shook up the league, the players couldn't achieve much success in Brooklyn.
Trade: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, D.J. White, a first-round pick and a second-round pick for Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace and four first-round picks
#16 - Chris Webber to Sacramento Kings (1998)
Chris Webber's trade to Sacramento helped the Kings become competitive in the West. They had several great runs with the forward, most notably in the 2001-02 season when they almost made the NBA Finals.
Trade: Chris Webber for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe
#17 - Oscar Robertson to Milwaukee Bucks (1970)
After 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Royals, Oscar Robertson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. This is arguably the biggest trade in Bucks' history, as Mr. Triple Double won it all in his first season in Milwaukee.
Trade: Oscar Robertson for Charlie Paulk and Flynn Robinson.
#18 - Steve Nash to Dallas Mavericks (1998)
Steve Nash was drafted by the Phoenix Suns, but was traded to the Dallas Mavericks after two years. He became a star in Dallas and has made the Mavs very competitive. After growing as a player, he returned to the Suns, but as a free agent.
Trade: Steve Nash for Pat Garrity, Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and a first-round pick
#19 - Kobe Bryant to LA Lakers (1996)
Many basketball fans don't know it, but the LA Lakers acquired Kobe Bryant through one of the most significant NBA trades of all time. Bryant was picked by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the City of Angels, the city where he became an icon.
Trade: Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac
#20 - Rasheed Wallace to Detroit Pistons (2004)
Rasheed Wallace was traded twice in February 2004, but his second trade was fantastic. After playing in just one game for the Atlanta Hawks, the team he was first traded to, Sheed was sent to the Detroit Pistons where he became a champion in only a few months.
Trade: A three-team trade between the Hawks, Pistons and Boston Celtics
#21 - Tracy McGrady to Houston Rockets (2004)
Pairing Tracy McGrady with Yao Ming made the Houston Rockets very competitive in the West. While they never had a deep playoff run, a trade that moves the league's leading scorer in two straight seasons definitely shook up the league.
Trade: Tracy McGrady, Reece Gaines, Juwan Howard and Tyronn Lue for Kelvin Cato, Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley
#22 - Clyde Drexler to Houston Rockets (1995)
Like Rasheed Wallace, Clyde Drexler was moved at the trade deadline and won a championship a few months later. What makes this move one of the biggest NBA trades is Drexler's impressive playoff run, in which he averaged 20.5 points per game.
Trade: Clyde Drexler and Tracy Murray for Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola and a first-round draft pick
#23 - Scottie Pippen to Chicago Bulls (1987)
Scottie Pippen was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics, who traded him on draft day to the Chicago Bulls. The two-way forward turned out to be a perfect sidekick to Michael Jordan and won six championship rings.
Trade: Scottie Pippen and a first-round pick for Olden Polynice, a first-round pick and a second-round pick
#24 - Dirk Nowitzki to Dallas Mavericks (1998)
Similar to Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki wasn't drafted by the team he spent his entire career with. The big man with a soft touch was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks, but was sent to Dallas, where he became an icon, on the draft day.
Trade: Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity for Robert Traylor
#25 - Jason Kidd to New Jersey Nets (2001)
One of the most impactful NBA trades took place in 2001 when Jason Kidd was sent to the New Jersey Nets. In his first two seasons with the team, the playmaker made the NBA Finals, but couldn't win a championship.
Trade: Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake
#26 - Bill Russell to Boston Celtics (1956)
Bill Russell is one of the best centers to ever play in the NBA, but he wasn't drafted by the Boston Celtics, despite being the only team he ever played for. The center was picked by the St. Louis Hawks, but was traded to Boston on the draft day.
Trade: Bill Russell for Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley
#27 - Dwight Howard to LA Lakers (2012)
Back in 2012, Dwight Howard was still in his prime and was dominant on both ends of the floor. The LA Lakers acquired him in one of the most significant NBA trades of the decade, forming a super team with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. However, they were swept in the first round.
Trade: Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers as part of a four-team trade with the Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers
#28 - Kevin Love to Cleveland Cavaliers (2014)
The Cleveland Cavaliers gave up on Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft, to acquire Kevin Love. This turned out to be the right move as the big man formed a super team with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, helping the Cavs win it all just two years later.
Trade: Kevin Love was acquired in a three-team trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers
#29 - Dominique Wilkins to Atlanta Hawks (1982)
Dominique Wilkins was drafted by the Utah Jazz, but was traded to the Atlanta Hawks a few months after the draft. Thanks to one of the most lopsided NBA trades, the legendary forward established himself as one of the best players of all time in Atlanta.
Trade: Dominique Wilkins for John Drew and Freeman Williams
#30 - Kyrie Irving to Boston Celtics (2017)
Only a year after winning his first championship ring, Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. He was shipped to Boston and was ready to compete against his former team. However, he didn't achieve any significant results in two years with the Celtics.
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Trade: Kyrie Irving for Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Ante Zizic, a first-round pick and a second-round pick