The 2023 NBA trade deadline is upon us, and we’ve already seen some doozies. If you thought the Kyrie Irving trade to the Dallas Mavericks was a big deal, that was blown away by the Kevin Durant blockbuster in the wee hours before the deadline. This KD trade could easily wind up being at or near the top of this list when it’s all said and done, but we’re not going to place it just yet because we want to see how things play out. There are a number of other trades that could be on this list as well, but we’re going to focus on these.
8. Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors (2012)
Warriors receive: Andrew Bogut, Stephen Jackson
Bucks receive: Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown, Ekpe Udoh
The Andrew Bogut trade deadline acquisition didn’t benefit the Warriors in the 2011-2012 season. However, his acquisition benefited the team three years later. Bogut manned the frontcourt during the Warriors’ title conquest in 2015. The Australian big man averaged 2.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in the 2015 NBA Finals. He also once dropped 12 points and 12 rebounds in a Game 3 victory against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. Bogut was a key veteran and enforcer at the start of the Warriors’ dynasty. This trade was also notable in that it was Monta Ellis going to Milwaukee instead of Stephen Curry. The Dubs certainly made the right call.
7. Baron Davis to the Cleveland Cavaliers (2011)
Cavs receive: Baron Davis, first-round pick
Clippers receive: Mo Williams, Jamario Moon
Baron Davis was the headline of the trade. However, it turned out to be the first-round pick that became beneficial for the Cavaliers five years later. The first-round pick turned out to be Kyrie Irving. As we all know, Irving was responsible for the clutch 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals that helped Cleveland pull off the historic 3-1 comeback to give the franchise its first NBA title.
6. Jason Kidd to the Dallas Mavericks (2008)
Mavs receive: Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, Antoine Wright
Nets receive: Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager
The Nets were already preparing for the future, as they unloaded an aging Jason Kidd who turned out to be a crucial championship piece for the Mavericks. Kidd served as the main facilitator for the Mavericks that allowed the team to defeat their Western Conference rivals in the Blazers, Thunder, and Lakers before pulling off the upset against the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.
5. Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors (2018)
Raptors receive: Marc Gasol
Grizzlies receive: C.J. Miles, Delon Wright, Jonas Valanciunas, 2024 second-round draft pick
After getting Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors needed more defensive pieces alongside Serge Ibaka to fortify their frontcourt. As a result, they traded for former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Gasol proved to be a crucial championship piece for the Raptors by providing elite rim protection and playmaking. He averaged 12.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists to help the Raptors win the franchise’s first NBA title at the expense of that Dubs dynasty.
4. Mark Aguirre to the Detroit Pistons (1989)
Pistons receive: Mark Aguirre
Mavericks receive: Adrian Dantley, first-round pick
The Pistons were a championship contender. With the team on the verge of at least taking 60 wins, it looked like the Pistons were playoff-ready. However, the Pistons shocked the league by letting go of one of their key players in Adrian Dantley. In exchange, the Pistons received Mark Aguirre. But despite the initial doubts, Aguirre helped the Pistons win back-to-back championships.
3. Rasheed Wallace to the Detroit Pistons (2004)
Pistons receive: Rasheed Wallace, Mike James
Celtics receive: Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, first-round pick, cash
Hawks receive: Bobby Sura, Zeljko Rebraca, Chris Mills, first-round pick
The Pistons were already a formidable team with Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, and Rip Hamilton. However, they still needed one more championship piece to complete the puzzle. The last piece came in the form of Rasheed Wallace during the trade deadline in the midst of the 2003-2004 season. Despite concerns regarding attitude, Wallace’s knack for defense, perimeter shooting, and heart were essential for the Pistons to pull off a monumental upset against the star-studded Lakers at the 2004 NBA Finals.
2. Clyde Drexler to the Houston Rockets
Rockets receive: Clyde Drexler, Tracy Murray
Blazers receive: Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola, 1995 first-round pick
The Chicago Bulls dominated the early part of the 1990s, but Michael Jordan’s first retirement opened the door for the Rockets. After winning the title in 1994, a back-to-back was only made possible after the Rockets executed a deal at the NBA trade deadline in the 1994-1995 season to acquire Clyde Drexler and Tracy Murray. The arrival of Drexler marked a college reunion with Hakeem Olajuwon. The formidable duo would go on to help the Rockets successfully defend their NBA championship.
1. Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers (2008)
Lakers receive: Pau Gasol, second-round pick
Grizzlies receive: Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol, two first-round picks
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers were hungry for more championship glory after some down years in the wake of Shaq’s departure. To fortify their frontcourt to get Kobe another big-man partner, the Lakers went out and got Pau Gasol. The Spaniard would help the Lakers make an NBA Finals appearance that year before falling to the Boston Celtics. Fortunately, Gasol continued to dominate with the Lakers and helped the Kobe Bryant-led team to back-to-back NBA championships, including the second one that exacted revenge over the Celtics in 2010.