Philadelphia has certainly developed over the years as “The Process” is no longer a process. The recent success of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and the rest of the team have sparked new hope into the franchise. Loyal fans were rewarded with playoffs runs over the past few years after being stuck in the realm of mediocrity beforehand. However, let’s take a deeper look into the history of this organization. Here, we examine the five best trades in Philadelphia 76ers history, and rank them according to their respective impact.
5. $125,000 to the New Jersey Nets for the rights to the 51st pick (Kyle Korver)
To get things out of the way, this wasn’t a traditional trade as Korver was actually acquired via a draft-day trade. The 76ers had to get creative to land the legendary three-point shooter, who was supposedly going to play for the New Jersey Nets at that time. As absurd as it sounds, he was traded to Philly for just $125,000 and that money was used to help buy a new copy machine.
In his time in Philly, he was already knocking it down from deep at such an early age. In five seasons, Korver would average over 10 points per game while also shooting 40.9% from beyond the arc. In addition, he also held the franchise’s all-time record for threes made in a single season for close to two decades before JJ Redick would ultimately top it in 2019.
4. George McGinnis and a 1978 first-round pick (Mike Evans) to the Denver Nuggets for Bobby Jones, Ralph Simpson and a 1984 first-round pick (Leon Wood)
When you make a big trade and you get to win the ‘chip in that same year, you know you did something right. This was exactly the case when Bobby Jones was acquired in the hopes that he would help catapult the 76ers into title contention wherein they actually won it back in 1983. Of course, it also helps that he had the likes of Julius Erving and Moses Malone to play alongside with.
Prior to the trade, the 76ers knew that they needed to boost their scoring off the bench. Notably — even if Jones never came off the bench before in his entire career — he adjusted perfectly and went on to become one of the best sixth men in the league. He averaged 10.7 points per game across eight seasons in Philly, he made two All-Star games, and won a ‘chip with the team. Eventually, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and his jersey is now hanging in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.
3. Toni Kukoč, Nazr Mohammed, Theo Ratliff and Pepe Sánchez to the Atlanta Hawks for Roshown McLeod and Dikembe Mutombo
When you have a superstar on your team such as Allen Iverson, it’s your duty as an organization to get that man some help. Luckily, the 76ers did just that in the 2000-2001 season when they went out and acquired the eight-time All-Star and shot-blocking machine Dikembe Mutombo in exchange for Toni Kukoč, Nazr Mohammed, Theo Ratliff and Pepe Sánchez.
This was the perfect trade considering that their current big, Theo Ratliff, was done for the year due to injury. Moreover, they knew that Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers were the team to beat, meaning that they needed someone to match up against the big guy. With Mutombo and AI, they were able to match up against one of the most dominant teams in NBA history. Even though they didn’t win a ‘chip, Mutombo’s acquisition brought elite defense and size which created an instant impact to propel the team to greater heights.
2. Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Shaffer and cash to the San Francisco Warriors for Wilt Chamberlain
Back in the day, you basically needed someone to check the great Bill Russell in order to win the title. That was no easy task either as evidenced by Russell’s 11 rings. Nevertheless, the 76ers stepped up to the plate in 1946 and acquired Wilt Chamberlain, arguably one of the the greatest centers in league history.
Even if the team lost twice to Russell’s Celtics in 1965 and 1966, Wilt finally got his sweet revenge in 1967 when they climbed over the hurdle and brought a championship to Philly. During his four-year tenure, Wilt was the living embodiment of a walking double double on steroids as he averaged a whopping 27.6 points and 23.9 rebounds per game. He lead the league in minutes, rebounds, and field goal percentage across three seasons as a 76er, while leading the league in points during the 1965-66 season as well.
1. Caldwell Jones and a 1983 first-round pick (Rodney McCray) to the Houston Rockets for Moses Malone
While Wilt may go down as one of the greatest centers to ever the play the game of basketball, Moses Malone has the right to remembered as possibly as one of the the greatest 76ers ever. When the 76ers lost to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Lakers Finals for the second time in three years, they became frustrated and went on to acquire five-time All-Star in Moses Malone. With this move alone, you know the 76ers meant business.
Malone paired with Julius Erving was a sight to see. The superstar pair eventually won a championship in their first year together, he won an MVP award and he left a lasting legacy with the famous “Fo’, Fo’, Fo’” prediction as he was etched into history with a Hall of Fame induction.