The Nets have had a long and mostly sad history with player acquisitions, from the trades of Julius Erving and Bernard King to the acquisitions of Phil Jackson and Roy Hinson.
While the Nets draft history has been mostly poor, they have been able to make some great trades in their history. Here are the top five.
5. In 1997, the Nets traded Shawn Bradley, Robert Pack, Ed O’Bannon, and Khalid Reeves to Dallas for Jim Jackson, Chris Gatling, Sam Cassell, Eric Montross, and George McCloud.
The Nets got rid of a bunch of dead weight for a number of useful players. Jim Jackson and Montross were later turned into Keith Van Horn and Lucious Harris, but the real key was getting a top notch point guard in Sam Cassell.
Cassell was under-appreciated throughout his career. He keyed the Nets offense and it is no coincidence that when healthy, his teams always made the playoffs.
4. In 1992, the Nets obtained Jayson Williams from Philadelphia for 2nd round draft choices in 1994 (William Njoku) and 1997 (Kebu Stewart).
Before his career ending injury, Jayson Williams was one of the top rebounders in the NBA and an All-Star. His presence in the middle was a big reason the Nets made the playoffs in 1998. His injury was a big reason why the Nets fell apart shortly thereafter.
3. In 1982, Nets acquired Darryl Dawkins from Philadelphia in exchange for the Sixers 1983 1st round draft choice (Leo Rautins) and cash.
This trade was the best of the pre-Rod Thorn era. The Nets were a mostly awful team after joining the NBA, the trade for Dawkins temporarily changed that.
Dawkins combined with Buck Williams and Mike Gminski to form a strong presence in the post and lead the Nets to their first playoff win two years later.
Without Dawkins as a low-post threat, the Nets would have never beaten the defending champion Philadelphia 76ers.
2. In 2001, the Nets traded the draft rights to Eddie Griffin to the Houston Rockets in exchange for the draft rights to Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, and Brandon Armstrong.
Rod Thorn's first trade was a bonanza for the Nets. It brought key players to the two teams that made the NBA finals in Jefferson and Collins.
Jefferson eventually developed into a 20 points per game scorer and Collins was a key defensive presence at center. However, only one trade could rank at the top of this list.
1. On July 18, 2001, the Nets traded Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley.
Marbury was a locker room cancer who destroyed almost every team he played for. Jason Kidd gave the Nets its greatest run in its NBA history with two finals appearances and a conference finals.
It is my belief that only Kidd's knee injury in that Eastern Conference Finals match against the Pistons prevented the team from making the Finals for a third year in a row. Jason Kidd can rightly claim to be the best Nets player since Julius Erving.
Hopefully, Rod Thorn will be able to make some similar acquisitions as he did in 2001 to restore the Nets to contenders.