The Los Angeles Lakers are widely considered to be one of the most successful franchises in all of sports. Throughout its rich history, this team has had its fair share of some of the greatest players of all time.
Some of these players made their way to Los Angeles via the draft, while others signed via free agency. There are, however, a few stars the Lakers acquired via trade. Below are the top-five trade moves the Lakers’ front office has ever pulled off. The Anthony Davis trade isn’t included, but he could change that in the coming years.
5. Robert Horry (1997)
Traded from the Phoenix Suns with Joe Kleine for Cedric Ceballos and Rumeal Robinson.
Robert Horry’s arrival in Los Angeles was quite contentious. The 6-foot-9 forward had an infamous in-game dust-up with his then-coach with the Phoenix Suns, Danny Ainge. This led to a suspension for Horry, and it only took a matter of days before the front office sent him in the direction of the Lakers.
Despite the rather controversial circumstances of his arrival, Horry turned out to be outstanding in his six and a half seasons with the Lakers. He ended up playing a crucial role during the historic three-peat from 1999-2001. Also known as “Big Shot Bob,” Horry earned his famous nickname for making clutch shots throughout his career, and more than a few of them came during his time in Hollywood.
4. Pau Gasol (2008)
Traded from the Memphis Grizzlies with a future second-round pick for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol, Aaron McKie, and two first-round picks.
It could be argued that Kobe Bryant would not have won his fourth and fifth titles had it not been for the arrival of Pau Gasol in the middle of the 2007-08 season.
At that point in time, things were looking bad for the Lakers, and Bryant was pretty much demanding for a superstar to play alongside him. Under pressure from their superstar, the Lakers pulled off one of the greatest trades in franchise history. Gasol was the Memphis Grizzlies’ franchise player at that time, so the Lakers had to send a few valuable assets in the direction of the Grizzlies, including the rights for Gasol’s younger brother, Marc Gasol, who at that time had not played a single game for the Lakers.
Despite the high price, the investment paid off almost instantly. In just his second year with the team, Gasol helped the Lakers to their first title in seven years. They did it again the following season, and in the process, cemented the legacy of Kobe Bryant as one of the greatest players of all time.
3. Wilt Chamberlain (1968)
Traded from the Philadelphia 76ers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff.
There is no doubt that Wilt Chamberlain is right up there when talking about the greats. As a matter of fact, more than a few folks would have him as the greatest ever. After all, scoring a hundred points in a single contest has to get you a ticket in the GOAT conversation, right?
The only reason why Chamberlain is not at the very top of our list is because of the fact that he joined the Lakers at the tail end of his career. This was long after his 100-point outing with the Philadelphia Warriors.
The 7-foot-1 big man made the move to Los Angeles in 1968 at the age of 32. While he was no longer averaging over 50 points a game at this point, Chamberlain was still one of the top big men in the entire league. As a matter of fact, he played a significant role in the Lakers’ 1972 title run, which was Chamberlain’s second championship of his illustrious career.
In five seasons with the Lakers, Chamberlain averaged 17.7 points (on 60.5 percent shooting), 19.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975)
Traded from the Milwaukee Bucks with Walt Wesley for Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters.
It’s amazing how two of the greatest big men of all time — not just in Lakers franchise history — arrived via trade. While Chamberlain came to Hollywood toward the twilight of his career, this simply wasn’t the case for Abdul-Jabbar.
Kareem demanded a trade from the Milwaukee Bucks in October 1974, and they agreed to trade the 27-year-old Abdul-Jabbar in 1975, which was the prime of his career.
Abdul-Jabbar arrived in Los Angeles as a one-time champion, and he added five more rings to his tally during his time with the Lakers. The 7-foot-2 center was a key player on the renowned Showtime Lakers, playing alongside the great Magic Johnson. Together, they led the Lakers to NBA titles in ’80, ’82, ’85, ’87, and ’88 in what was easily one of the most successful eras in franchise history.
1. Kobe Bryant (1996)
Traded from the Charlotte Hornets for Vlade Divac.
The Lakers acquired Chamberlain in his early 30s, while Abdul-Jabbar joined the side in his late-20s. The huge difference between those trade deals and that of the late Kobe Bryant is that they traded for The Black Mamba even before he played a single game in the NBA.
It was, in fact, the Charlotte Hornets who selected Kobe 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft. As destiny would have it, Bryant ended up with the Lakers not long after, with Vlade Divac — who in his own right was one of the top centers in the NBA at that time — going in the opposite direction. In hindsight, we all know who won that trade.