Top 5 Biggest NBA Trades

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Bill Sharman, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jack Kent Cooke at press conference announcing Lakers' signing Kareem in Los Angeles.
(Wikimedia Commons/Los Angeles Times)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Dec 05, 2023, 1:42 AM
  • Here’s a list of the biggest NBA trades in history.
  • Charles Barkley leads the list.

NBA trades are not too common these days when players demand trades to play for other teams or the relationship between an organization and a player is not going well. Whatever the reason may be, this type of sports transaction will change the fate of a franchise for better chances in the NBA championship odds.

From the famous, ‘’The Decision’’ of LeBron James to Kevin Garnett suiting up for the Celtics, we have listed the top five biggest NBA trades of all time and see how big of an impact they delivered on the NBA odds and the team’s fortune.

Charles Barkley to Phoenix

After eight impressive seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Charles Barkley voiced out his eagerness to be out of the team due to the lack of success. In 1992, he got his wish granted after Philly traded him away to Phoenix for three players (Jeff Hornack, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry). This massive trade was part of the biggest Phoenix Suns biggest trades in team history.

Barkley rewarded Phoenix with a Season MVP award and a trip to the NBA Finals during his first year, only to be defeated by the mighty Chicago Bulls dynasty led by Michael Jordan in six games. During his four seasons with the Suns, Barkley averaged 23.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

Bill Russell to Boston

In 1956, Red Auerbach, the Boston Celtics head coach at the time, pulled off one of the biggest trades in NBA history by shipping Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan to St. Louis Hawks for the second draft pick Bill Russell and the rest were history as we all witnessed greatness personified.

The 6-foot-10 center immediately made his mark in the big league by winning five MVP awards (he won his first award in only his second season), helped Boston win 11 championships from 1957 to 1969 and became a 12-time NBA All-Star in 13 years of professional career. Russell is also regarded as one of the best players to play basketball. 

Kevin Garnett to Boston

Much like Barkley’s frustration to Philadelphia, Kevin Garnett suffered a little longer in Minnesota before getting a competitive roster to compete. In 2007, Danny Ainge, the Celtics president that time, made a bold move to acquire the 2004 NBA MVP Kevin Garnett to complete his team’s big three, along with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Ainge and Boston gave away seven players (Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and two first-round draft picks), which is the record for the most players traded for one player and became one of Boston Celtics’ biggest trades. This daring move proved to be worth it as Garnett helped the franchise win their 17th title in his maiden season with the Celtics.

LeBron James to Miami

LeBron James’ decision to take his talent to South Beach in a nationally televised segment in 2010 was thought to be a free-agent move from the ‘’King’’. But this decision came together after Cleveland agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Heat. The Cavs traded away a generational superstar to several draft picks and a trade exception after a seven-year relationship that failed to deliver a title.

LeBron was able to help Miami reach the NBA Finals for four straight seasons and deliver two championships alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. He was also named back-to-back season MVPs in 2012 and 2013. James’ average as a member of the ‘’Heatles’’ was 26.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.7 assists.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Los Angeles

Due to his claim of being ‘’socially and culturally unfit’’ with the City of Milwaukee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wanted to get out of the team in 1975. The Bucks immediately dealt him and Walt Wesley to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Brian Winters, Junior Bridgeman, Elmore Smith and Dave Meyers.

Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers went on to win five NBA championships together during the center’s 14-year tenure with the organization as he became the league’s record holder for the most points scored in his entire career with 38,387. This achievement was mainly thanks to his signature move called the ‘’Skyhook’’.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.