The best trade all 30 NBA franchises have ever made
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The best trade all 30 NBA franchises have ever made

Trades have helped shape the fabric of the NBA since its beginning in 1946. Each franchise has its share of good and bad trades. Some teams have better luck than others when it comes to the art of the deal.

Here the best NBA trades made by each team in league history.

30. Atlanta Hawks

The Utah Jazz traded their No. 3 overall pick in 1982, Dominique Wilkins, to the Hawks for John Drew and Freeman Williams. Wilkins went on to become one of the best scorers in NBA history.

29. Boston Celtics

Possibly the most famous trade in recent NBA history, the Celtics sent an aging trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry, as well as Kris Joseph, to the Brooklyn Nets. In return, the Celtics received a few role players and unprotected first round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 as well as the ability to swap first rounders in 2017.

None of those players really made a significant impact in Boston, but the unprotected draft picks have led to franchise cornerstones in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in a deal widely regarded as one of the most lopsided ever.

28. Brooklyn Nets

Byron Scott, Jason Kidd

In 2001, the Phoenix Suns traded Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley to the Nets for Stephon MArbury, Johnny Newman Soumalia Samake.

In Kidd’s seven season with the Nets, he would be named to five All-Star games and brought the Nets to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

27. Charlotte Hornets

Back when they were just beginning as the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004, the team traded the No. 4 and No. 33 picks to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Charlotte went on to draft Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor, who was a solid contributor for the expansion team.

26. Chicago Bulls 

The Seattle Supersonics drafted Scottie Pippen No. 5 overall in the 1987. They would then trade the future Hall of Famer for No. 8 overall pick Olden Polynice and future draft picks.

Pippen went on to be named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in seven of the 11 seasons he played in Chicago, serving as the second-best player on the roster alongside Michael Jordan while winning six championships.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers

In the 1986 NBA draft, the Dallas Mavericks sent No. 25 overall pick Mark Price to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second-round pick.

Price would become an All-NBA caliber player in the early ’90s for the Cavs and is the second most-accurate free-throw shooter of all time.

24. Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki

The Dončič trade could one day land on a list like this. However, in 1998, the Mavericks acquired No. 7 overall pick Dirk Nowitzki for big man Robert Traylor.

Nowitzki is the best player in Mavericks history and brought the franchise its first ever championship in 2011.

23. Denver Nuggets

In 1980, the Nuggets traded aging star George McGinnis and Carl Nicks to the Indiana Pacers for small forward Alex English.

English developed into one of the best scorers of his era and led the NBA with 28.4 points per game in 1983.

22. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons took a risk in 2000 by trading rising star Grant Hill to the Orlando Magic for Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace. Injuries would derail Hill’s career after he left Detroit (though, he was already hit by the bug some) and Wallace would develop into one of the best defensive centers of all time, anchoring the Pistons championship run in 2004.

21. Golden State Warriors

At the 2005 trade deadline, the Warriors shipped Speedy Claxton and Dale Ellis to New Orleans for a 25-year-old Baron Davis.

Over the next three and a half years, Davis would be the best player for the Warriors, leading their improbable upset of the top-seeded Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs.

20. Houston Rockets

Before the NBA’s hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, James Harden averaged 34.4 points per game for Houston. If it weren’t for a 2012 trade that sent Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, two first round picks, and a second-round pick to Oklahoma City, this might not be happening.

19. Indiana Pacers

Although he is still one of the best players in the NBA, the Pacers receiving both Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Paul George was a great deal.

Sabonis and Oladipo have the potential to be one of the best duos in the NBA in the future and George only spent two seasons in OKC.

18. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers don’t have a ton of great trades in franchise history. However, the 2011 trade that brought Chris Paul to LA led to the most successful six-year run in franchise history. Also, you know, the entire Paul George trade.

17. Los Angeles Lakers

Mamba Sports Academy, Kobe Bryant, Lakers

One of the best trades in NBA history, the Lakers moved Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for No. 13 overall pick in the 1996 draft Kobe Bryant. Bryant would go on to be one of the best players in NBA history, winning five titles with the Purple & Gold the rest of the way.

16. Memphis Grizzlies

At the time, trading a budding star in Pau Gasol seemed foolish. But in return, the Grizzlies received his younger brother Marc as well as a few role players and draft picks.

Marc Gasol would go on to lead the “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies of the early 2010’s and would win NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.

15. Miami Heat

Excluding the 2010 sign-and-trade deals for LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat’s acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal in 2006 gave the team another star alongside Dwyane Wade who helped the franchise win its first ever championship.

14. Milwaukee Bucks

The original triple-double machine, Oscar Roberston became a Buck after the team traded Charlie Paulk and Flynn Robinson to the Cincinnati Royals in 1970.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

A year after losing franchise player Kevin Garnett, the Timberwolves agreed to an eight-player deal that resulted in Kevin Love landing in Minnesota.

12. New Orleans Pelicans

David Griffin, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Anthony Davis, Lakers, Pelicans


Without a lot of high-impact trades in franchise history, I’m going to go out on a limb choose the recent Anthony Davis trade to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Pelicans lost a franchise player in Davis but gained Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and a treasure chest of first-round picks.

11. New York Knicks

In 1968, the Knicks traded Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives to the Pistons for power forward Dave DeBusschere.

The 6-foot-6 forward was a star for the Knicks in their 1970 and 1973 championship runs.

10. Oklahoma City Thunder

It’s too early to tell how the recent Paul George to the Clippers will turn out, so I’m going to go with the 1989 trade between the Sonics and the Warriors.

In return for center Alton Lister, the Sonics received two first-round picks, one that would become one of the best defensive players in NBA history in Gary Payton.

9. Orlando Magic

In 1993, the Magic had the chance to team up Shaq with Chris Webber; instead, Orlando traded the Michigan star to Golden State for third-overall pick Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks.

8. Philadelphia 76ers

julius erving

In desperate need for cash, the New York Nets traded Julius Erving in 1976 to the 76ers for $3 million. Dr. J would go on to become one of the best players in 76ers history. Opposite that, three million bones is still three million bones.

7. Phoenix Suns

Upset with their star player, the 76ers traded Charles Barkley to the Suns in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang.

Although he never won a championship, Barkley dominated in his four seasons with the Suns and won the MVP award in 1993.

6. Portland Trail Blazers

During the 2006 draft, the Blazers sent No. 4 overall pick Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa to the Chicago Bulls for No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge went on to become one of the better players in franchise history from 2006-2015.

5. Sacramento Kings

Mitch Richmond was a bonafide star for the Kings. Nevertheless, in 1998, Sacramento traded Richmond along with Otis Thorpe to Washington for a 25-year-old Chris Webber.

Webber dominated the early 2000’s and nearly led the franchise to their first NBA finals appearance since 1951.

4. San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs

The 1993 trade to land Dennis Rodman is an option but Rodman only spent two seasons in San Antonio. Instead, the 2011 draft day trade to acquire Kawhi Leonard is going to be my pick here, even if Leonard is no longer a Spur.

3. Toronto Raptors

Trading Antwan Jamison for the pick that would become Vince Carter is a definite option. But, since it led to the first championship in team history, I’m going with the 2018 trade that sent DeMar Derozan, Jakob Poetl and a first-round pick to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Even if Green and Leonard only spent one season with the Raptors, the goal is to win championships.

2. Utah Jazz

In 1979, the Jazz traded Spencer Haywood to the Lakers in exchange for Adrian Dantley. Dantley is one of the most lethal, but often overlooked, scorers in NBA history.

In his seven seasons in Utah, the 6-foot-5 small forward topped 30 points per game four times.

1. Washington Wizards

In 1972, Washington (then the Bullets) traded small forward Jack Marin to Houston for undersized center Elvin Hayes. Hayes put up 20 and 10 on an almost nightly basis and was named an All Star in six of his seven seasons in Washington.