The 2013 trade deadline was arguably the dullest one on record. A few minor moves went down, but none will alter the landscape of the NBA. And outside of the James Harden and Rudy Gay trades that occurred earlier this year, no deals in recent memory have the potential to alter a franchise's trajectory.
But every team has made such deals.
The following trades are the ones that will go down in lore for each NBA franchise.
The Atlanta Hawks can thank the financial woes of the Utah Jazz for the best player in their franchise history. The Jazz selected Wilkins third in the 1982 NBA draft, but were forced to part ways with him when cash flow problems outweighed their ability to retain one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. The Hawks were quick to sweep in with a million dollar offer that was simply too good for the Jazz to turn down, according to the Desert News.
The Hall of Famer and nine-time All-Star scored 25 or more points per game for Atlanta in 10 seasons. The supporting cast was ultimately never good enough for Wilkins to lead his team to the Eastern Conference Finals, but Wilkins will always be tied to an exciting team that, due to the sheer force of his dunks, could explode at any time.
There is a reason that many people still hold Red Auerbach in higher regard than Phil Jackson. In addition to being one of the greatest on-court minds in basketball history, he was also one of the sport's shrewdest dealmakers.
NBA.com explains his greatest coup.
On June 9, 1980, Red Auerbach pulled off the type of trade that had earned him a reputation for thievery in his more than three decades in the league. Auerbach dealt the first and 13th picks in the 1980 NBA Draft to Golden State for the third pick in the 1980 Draft and four-year veteran center Robert Parish. The Warriors selected Purdue center Joe Barry Carroll with the first pick and tabbed Mississippi forward Rickey Brown 13th. The Celtics took forward Kevin McHale of Minnesota, and thus added Parish and McHale to a frontcourt that already featured Larry Bird and Cedric Maxwell. In one trade, Auerbach had acquired a frontcourt for the next decade.
Yes, Auerbach got both Robert Parish and Kevin McHale in the same deal.
In 2013, fans like to talk about market size and the league's fundamental desire to see its marquee teams win, as the reasons that so few NBA franchises have won so many of the championships ever handed out.
Well, in the case of the Boston Celtics, there really is a simpler explanation: Red Auerbach was better than everyone else. Always.
Any time you can get rid of Stephon Marbury, it's a good trade. But when the return is Jason Kidd? Yeah, that will likely qualify as the best deal a team ever makes.
Oh, by the way, the move also triggered the best run for the franchise since it entered the NBA.
"Marbury For Kidd Looks Like Fair Deal" was a New York Times headline not long after the 2001 move that sent the "24-year-old scoring machine" to the Phoenix Suns and "a 28-year-old pass-first leader" to the New Jersey Nets.
More than a decade later, nothing could seem further from the truth.
If we're being honest, the best "trade" in Charlotte Bobcats history probably involves Michael Jordan's stock portfolio, because the franchise hasn't made many notable deals in its short history.
If we have to chose a best, it was probably their first.
Before its first ever draft, the team traded picks number four and 33 to the Los Angeles Clippers for the number two pick. (Charlotte also agreed to select Pedrag Drobnjak of the Clippers in the expansion draft.)
The Orlando Magic selected Dwight Howard first overall, which left Emeka Okafor, the most well known player in the draft, for the Bobcats.
Gerald Wallace is probably the best player in franchise history, but Okafor helped provide a solid foundation on which to build from jump street. That "building" remains an ongoing process, and there were better players available to pick (Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng), but the team moved up to get a good player in a weak draft.
Olden Polynice was a fine basketball player, so it is understandable that the Seattle SuperSonics would value him, plus a future pick, more than a relatively unknown forward from the University of Central Arkansas.
Unfortunately, that was one of the dumbest moves any team has ever made.
It's possible that Scottie Pippen would have never become Scottie Pippen if not for the years of tutelage under the wing of Michael Jordan, but you know what happened after the trade; the Chicago Bulls won six titles in the 1990s, and Scottie developed into one of the best handful of two-way players to ever lace up sneakers.
Worse still, the Sonics got to see his brilliance up close as the Bulls beat them in the 1996 NBA Finals.
1986 was a different time. Draft picks were less coveted than they are now. But even with the relative willingness teams had to trade high draft picks, the Brad Daugherty deal is still a head scratcher.
The Philadelphia 76ers had a good team and the first pick in the 1986 draft. If they made the right move, they were poised to legitimately challenge the Boston Celtics for conference superiority.
Instead, they dealt it to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a guy named Roy Hinson, who nobody born after 1986 has ever heard of. The Cavs took Brad Daugherty and soon became a contender.
Daugherty would become the franchise's leading scorer, until LeBron James took the top spot, and his impact on the team could have been even larger if not for back problems that cut his career short and dampened his tremendous skill set.
Dirk Nowitzki was dealt to Dallas in one of the biggest draft day steals in NBA history. An unheard of, tall shooter from Germany, Nowitzki was, at the time, just seen by fans as a guy with a strange name.
Eight years later, he would lead the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Finals.
Better still, the other player the Mavs acquired by trading Robert Traylor to the Milwaukee Bucks, Pat Garrity, was then flipped to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash (along with filler and a pick that turned out to be Shawn Marion). While Nash was gone before the team made its Finals run, the duo—along with Michael Finley—revitalized a franchise that hadn't even finished .500 in eight years.
The Denver Nuggets straight fleeced the Indiana Pacers on this one. Perhaps it was because Alex English was yet to hit his prime, or maybe it was because Indiana was trying to excite fans by re-acquiring the aging George McGinnis, a key player on two of the franchise's ABA title teams.
Regardless, the Nuggets got a Hall of Famer for a player who would only play about 170 more games in his career. English isn't as renowned among fans in 2013 as he should be, but he was one of the best scorers the sport has ever seen.
English scored at least 25 points per game for eight straight seasons from 1981-82 to 1988-89 without ever letting his field goal percentage dip below 49.1 percent.
If a 6'7" player today led the league in scoring while shooting 51.6 percent, as Alex did while dropping 28.4 points per night in 1982-83, the internet would explode. For English, however, this was actually a step down in efficiency; he shot 55.1 percent the year before that.
The Detroit Pistons were a bad team when they drafted Isiah Thomas in 1981. On the strength of his unique talents, they immediately became good. But it wasn't until Bill Laimbeer and, later, Chuck Daly showed up that the Bad Boys established the identity that would bring them back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990.
At the time the team traded Phil Hubbard, Paul Mokeski and picks for Laimbeer and Ken Carr, nobody thought anything of Bill. He was an unremarkable athlete with few discernable skills, but the team liked his ability to compete.
Fast forward a few years, and the Pistons would be the only team that liked anything about Laimbeer, one of the most reviled players in NBA history due to this proclivity for throwing cheap shots.
But, of course, the key reason people didn't like him was because they couldn't beat him.
The Golden State Warriors don't have a great history of trading with other teams. But in netting Baron Davis for, essentially, a rack of basketballs from the New Orleans Hornets, they set the foundation for the most exciting era of hoops in the Bay Area since Run TMC was in its prime.
A few years later, with Davis as their undisputed leader, the "We Believe" Warriors would knock off the one-seed Dallas Mavericks in one of the more dramatic playoff series of the millennium.
For the Mavericks, the 2007 playoffs were a disaster.
For the fans of Golden State, they were the first reason to get excited in more than a decade.
And for Davis, they provided an opportunity to immortalize himself by viciously posterizing Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz in the second round. It was, and remains, one of the best dunks in playoff history.
Clyde is coming home. That was the first impression most had when they heard news of the coup; the defending champion Houston Rockets traded Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola and a first-round draft pick to the Portland Trailblazers for Clyde Drexler and Tracy Murray.
Drexler had spent more than a decade playing in Portland, but he first made his mark on the basketball world playing alongside Hakeem Olajuwon at the University of Houston. Their Phi Slama Jama teams captivated the masses, and while they were too old in 1995 to replicate their high-flying showmanship, they were still plenty good enough to smack around the rest of the NBA.
Despite entering the playoffs as a six seed, the Rockets defended their title, becoming just the fifth NBA franchise to win back-to-back championships. That doesn't happen if Clyde doesn't return to Houston.
If you want to limit this to a single transaction, the Indiana Pacers' decision to move their starting lineup anchor for a raw, unproven, skinny, 21-year-old "power" forward has to be the team's best trade. Moving Dale Davis for Jermaine O'Neal allowed the franchise to seamlessly bridge their 1990s success into the next era to the point that they won a team record (in its NBA era) 61 games in 2003-04.
But another series of transactions involving Mark Jackson may be even more impressive.
In 1994, the team acquired Jackson for the first time, sending Malik Sealy, Pooh Richardson and Eric Piatkowski to the Los Angeles Clippers. Then, two years later, the team decided that it could do without Jackson and moved him, along with Ricky Pierce and a pick, to the Denver Nuggets for Jalen Rose, Reggie Williams and a draft pick (which it used to take Erick Dampier).
Soon after, Indiana realized the error of its ways.
The team called Denver back the next year to ask for Jackson back. The Nuggets said, "Okay," and sent Mark back to Indiana, along with LaSalle Thompson, in exchange for Eddie Johnson, Vincent Askew and a second-round pick.
Meanwhile, in a separate deal, the Pacers flipped Dampier (and Duane Ferrell) to the Golden State Warriors for Chris Mullin.
So, by exiling Mark Jackson for a few years and parting ways with a series of aging vets and a few picks, the Pacers were able to put Jackson, Rose and Mullin next to Reggie Miller in their perimeter rotation as they ascended to their greatest heights in the late 1990s to early 2000s.
Pacers GM Donnie Walsh earned a reputation as one of the best executives in the league for the way he built the Pacers in the 1990s. You don't need to look much further than this series of moves to see why.
This may have been his finest work.
David Stern gets the assist on this one. Chris Paul was initially headed to the other team in Los Angeles, reported Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, but the commissioner, who at the time was the head honcho in charge of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets franchise, reportedly put the kibosh on that deal.
"In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul," said Stern in a statement, "we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”
Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola and Kevin Martin all had to unpack their bags as the three-team trade involving the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Hornets was dead in the water.
Days later, the actual trade went down: Chris Paul was headed to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Gordon, Minnesota's 2012 first-round pick (which became Austin Rivers), Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu, according to ESPN. (The Hornets also sent two second-round picks to the Clippers.)
The once-cursed franchise has since risen from the dead to become a legitimate contender for the 2013 NBA title.
In 1975, when the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the franchise was the proud owner of six championship rings. By the time he retired, they had five more.
Though criminally underrated by those who today rank the best centers of all time, Abdul-Jabbar was the best player in the NBA for much of his 20-year career. He won six MVP awards and appeared in 19 All-Star Games on his way to becoming the leading scorer in league history.
His most unstoppable days arguably came with the Milwaukee Bucks, but his greatest success came with the Lakers—an already great franchise that reached another stratosphere after Kareem forced his way out of Milwaukee and into Hollywood.
The best trade in Memphis Grizzlies is the one that most people think was the worst. In "giving away" Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers, the franchise set itself up for several years near the top of the Western Conference.
The team's rise was stalled by injuries to Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph in back-to-back years, and it appears to be permanently halted now that financial concerns that forced a Gay trade outweighed a desire to compete.
None of this should sully a savvy trade by general manager Chris Wallace that once seemed one-sided. Instead, he found a way to move an All-Star who wanted out of Memphis for a player who would become the backbone of the franchise's next era.
It just so happened that those two guys were brothers.
Technically, the Miami Heat dealt for LeBron James, agreeing to a sign-and-trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that, according to the team, gave the Cavs a treasure trove of future draft picks. Miami could have just signed James outright, however, so this was more a formality that Cleveland played along with to pick up some assets for their departing superstar.
If you don't want to count that deal, then the player they acquired in their number-one move is obvious: Shaquille O'Neal.
By trading Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a pick to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to USA Today, the Heat in return got the biggest personality in the league. And one year later, they also acquired the franchise's first championship.
Nobody has ever heard of Flynn Robinson, but he was pretty good, averaging 21.8 points per game in 1969-70 for the Milwaukee Bucks. Still, the fact that he helped the team acquire Oscar Robertson makes this trade one of the most lopsided in sports history.
The Big O was older and no longer a threat to average a triple double when the Cincinnati Royals traded him to the Bucks, but he was still on top of the NBA. Paired with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the duo was just too devastating for the rest of the league to handle.
The Bucks ran roughshod through the regular season, compiling a 66-16 record in Robertson's first season leading the team, and didn't stop there. They marched to the title, losing just two games, while winning 12 on the way to the top.
Milwaukee swept the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals, winning each game by an average of more than 12 points.
Minnesota Timberwolves fans are certainly hoping that one of the franchise's recent trades will turn out to be the team's best. In 2009, it dealt Mike Miller and Randy Foye to the Washington Wizards for the fifth pick in the draft. Minnesota took Ricky Rubio.
One year earlier, the team drafted O.J. Mayo and traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies for Kevin Love, who had already established himself as the second best player in franchise history after Kevin Garnett.
But while inspiring a fan base is great, neither of these players have even made the playoffs.
Another deal—acquiring Sam Cassell and Ervin Johnson from the Milwaukee Bucks for Anthony Peeler and Joe Smith—brought the team to higher heights.
In addition to Cassell, the team also brought in Latrell Sprewell in the summer of 2003, and the league was soon buzzing about what was, at one point, the highest-scoring trio in the NBA, according to the New York Times.
The Wolves would come up short in the postseason, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, but the deal helped create what was by far the best team in franchise history.
The New Orleans Hornets haven't been on the good end of many high-profile trades. The Chris Paul deal looks like a disaster, and the Baron Davis move was even worse.
But by acquiring Tyson Chandler in 2006 from the Chicago Bulls, in exchange for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith, allowed fans to watch some of the prettiest basketball in league history.
Paul was at his absolute apex as a player in 2007, and the pick-and-roll combination of him and Chandler led to dunk after dunk after dunk. It didn't have the cache of Lob City, since Tyson basically dunked the ball the same way every time, but especially in tandem with the pick-and-pop attack of Paul and David West, it still left defenses helpless.
There personally hasn't been a team I've enjoyed watching more.
The New York Knicks have arguably traded for better players than Dave DeBusschere—like Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and Bernard King—but he was the final piece of the foundation that held up the franchise's best teams.
Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Willis Reed were already in New York when the team moved Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives to the Detroit Pistons for DeBusschere in 1968. After that, a franchise that had seen little success in almost two years was able to trot out one of the best teams in NBA history.
The Knicks won the title in 1970 and 1973, and DeBusschere averaged a double double in both campaigns.
This is one of the few great trades in NBA history that worked out well for both teams. Detlef Schrempf had emerged into a borderline star for the Indiana Pacers, winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award twice and making an All-Star team. Derrick McKey, meanwhile, was a versatile defensive force for the Seattle SuperSonics who could guard four positions.
But the George Karl-led Sonics felt they needed more offense while the Larry Brown-coached Pacers needed an impact defender. Thus, a natural swap.
Both teams thrived in subsequent years, but Seattle got better quicker and reached higher heights.
While Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp got all the headlines, Detlef provided a third scoring option as the team continued to improve during the mid-1990s. During the Sonics' 1995-96 season, which ended in the Finals at the hands of Michael Jordan, Schrempf averaged 17.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 4.4 APG.
Nobody was beating the Bulls that year, but Detlef was a huge reason that nobody came closer than Seattle.
The Orlando Magic are best known for losing two of the best centers in NBA history. Shaquille O'Neal walked away in free agency while Dwight Howard was, finally, shipped out this summer for an underwhelming package of assets.
Oddly enough, then, it is a seemingly innocuous deal that provided the best success the team has ever had.
After Jameer Nelson went down to injury, the team swung a deal to bring in Houston Rockets point guard Rafer Alston. It was Alston's sixth team in 10 years, and though he had developed into a reliable floor general, few expected the Magic to thrive once Nelson went down.
Instead, Rafer—who played just 28 games with Orlando in the regular season—steadied an offense that decimated all comers in the Eastern Conference playoffs. His numbers won't jump out at you. But without this move, the Magic never would have made it to the NBA Finals in 2009.
If the ABA's New York Nets wanted to stay in the region after the league merged with the NBA, it was going to have to pay the New York Knicks nearly $5 million for the privilege. This being 1976, that was a vast sum of money—especially for a team coming from the shoe-string lifestyle of the American Basketball Association.
Ultimately, the franchise, which had won two titles in the red-headed stepchild league, chose location over its superstar, selling Julius Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million.
The two franchises' immediate futures could not have been more divergent.
The Nets made the second round of the playoffs just one time until 2002, while the 76ers built one of the best teams in NBA history and won the the title in 1983.
Charles Barkley was miserable in Philadelphia. He didn't think his teammates could play and he had no faith in a management team that continually allowed his name to be floated in trade talks.
In the summer of 1992, his wish to be moved was granted by the 76ers, and it kicked off the best year of his professional life. The Barcelona Olympics started two months after the Chuckster was traded to the Phoenix Suns, and Barkley would emerge as arguably the second best player on that team after Michael Jordan—the player he would beat out for the MVP and lose to in the Finals in the coming NBA season.
That Suns team would never make it back to the championship series, losing to the champion Houston Rockets in seven games in each of the next two years, but the franchise has never eclipsed the 62 games won in Barkley's first year.
And the city will certainly never again be so captivated by a personality so big.
In 1976, the Portland Trailblazers shipped former Rookie of the Year Geoff Petrie to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the second pick in the looming ABA dispersal draft. The nation's two professional basketball leagues were merging and there was a litany of talent to be had.
The Blazers took Maurice Lucas and, in the process, may have secured the only championship the franchise has won. After his death in 2010, his Portland teammate Bill Walton wrote on Trailblazers.com about how his departed friend helped him on the court.
"No one ever made me better than Big Luke. He was simply better than perfect on all fronts."
For Walton, the respect went much deeper than basketball.
"Big Luke was so important in my life that I named our next born son after him."
While Luke Walton's game never lived up to that of his dad or his namesake, I'm sure he is just as proud as all Portland fans are that Maurice has a place in his life.
In 1998, the Sacramento Kings made one of the hardest trades a team can make, and the result was a complete reversal of fortune for a franchise that had been at the bottom of the barrel for two decades. Mitch Richmond was the best player in the team's history, so dealing him away had to be a difficult decision even if the prize, Chris Webber, was one of the most skilled big men the game has ever seen.
But as good as the decision to move Richmond and Otis Thorpe to the Washington Wizards for Webber was in and of itself, it also came at the optimal time.
That same offseason, Sacramento signed both Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic, who had played in Europe since the team drafted him in 1996. They also drafted Jason Williams to run the point.
The combination of these moves kickstarted the best era the Kings had ever seen, and revived a motion-based style of play that had nearly been eradicated league-wide by the grit-and-grind 1990s. They made the playoffs in each of the next eight seasons—barely losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime of game seven of the Western Conference Finals in 2002.
None of this happens if the Kings don't deal Richmond for Webber.
The San Antonio Spurs have made very few notable trades. But in a quest to win their third title, GM genius R.C. Buford made a small deal that had big impact.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley best summed up the deal that sent out Malik Rose and a few late first-round picks to the New York Knicks in exchange for center Nazr Mohammed. "Isiah Thomas is building a championship team—too bad it's in San Antonio," said Barkley on air, according to Basketbawful.
While jokes about the maligned former Knicks executive always resonate, the acquisition of Mohammed might not look like much now. But the center was scoring, rebounding and playing defense very well that season for the Knicks, and took a ton of pressure off Tim Duncan on defense by providing a second interior presence for the stingy Spurs defense.
Let's be optimistic here: acquiring Rudy Gay was the best move the Toronto Raptors have ever made.
OK, we have no idea if that will prove true.
His huge financial burden is certain to inflict some harm, but this team has been so bad for almost the entirety of its relatively short existence that fans need to hope this is the move that changes everything.
Giving Ed Davis and Jose Calderon to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Gay will lead Toronto to the promised land. Definitely.
The Philadelphia 76ers had just acquired Jeff Hornacek as the centerpiece of their deal for Charles Barkley a year-and-a-half earlier. Nevertheless, they just couldn't resist the temptation to pick up Jeff Malone and a middling draft pick.
While the result was disastrous for Philadelphia, which wouldn't win a playoff game again until 1999, the move set the ball rolling for the best decade in Utah Jazz history.
Behind John Stockton and Karl Malone, Hornacek became a reliable player for a Jerry Sloan team that would finish one Michael Jordan short of two titles in the late 1990s.
The combination of Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld was one of the most dominating in NBA history. These two hard-as-iron big men led the Washington Bullets to two NBA Finals appearances and the franchise's lone NBA title in 1978.
In 21 playoff games that season, Hayes led the team in scoring (21.8 PPG), rebounding (13.3 RPG) and blocks (2.5 BPG).
Given all this, it still seems amazing the the Bullets were able to trade him straight up to the Houston Rockets for Jack Marin, a fine scorer and excellent shooter, but someone who could never compare with The Big E.