NBA Off-season: The NBA's greatest off season acquisitions

Michael WhittenbergSenior Writer IAugust 30, 2008

The NBA off season hasn't officially come to an end, yet there have been a number of great acquisitions. Players like Baron Davis, Ron Artest, and Elton Brand will be in different unis next season due to blockbuster trades and free agent signings.

And though all teams that made big moves this off season moves will be better, they are not all instant title contenders. Which brings me to the main topic; what is the best off-season acquisition in NBA history?

We saw one of them last season when Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were acquired by the Boston Celtics. And look how that turned out. The acquisitions listed below turned out to be great ones because it helped turn a team of pretenders into contenders.

And while all of the acquisitions didn't help a team win a championship, some of them you just can't help to recognize. So here they are the greatest off-season moves in league history.

Acquisition: Tracy McGrady traded from Orlando to Houston

Date Acquired: June 29, 2004

This was a huge blockbuster deal that also included Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis, but neither of those guys lasted long with their new teams. The Rockets had a franchise player already in Yao Ming, but something else was missing: a sidekick for Yao.

The Rockets are contenders every year, but they haven't been able to get over the hump yet. And Despite the fact that McGrady has suffered first round losses each time he has reached the postseason in Houston, this trade will always be one of the best blockbusters of all-time.

This past season T-Mac's Rockets went on a 22-game winning streak, the second longest winning streak in NBA history. Since McGrady's arrival to Houston in 2004, the Rockets have won at least 50 games three of the last four seasons.

After the departure of McGrady, Orlando didn't reach the playoffs until 2006. But what where would T-Mac be today if he never demanded that trade from Orlando?

I'm guessing he would have one hell of a teammate in Dwight Howard by his side.

Acquisition: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar traded from Milwaukee to Los Angeles Lakers

Date Acquired: June 16, 1975

Not only was this one of the greatest off-season deals, but it is certainly the most questionable one. Kareem and Walt Westley were traded from the Bucks in exchange for Elmore Smith—who holds the records for most blocked shots in a single game (17), Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman.

Milwaukee struggled to stay over .500 in three of the first four seasons of the post Kareem era. But Los Angeles, however, went on to win five championships with Kareem as their star center.

Acquisition: Dennis Rodman traded from San Antonio to Chicago

Date Acquired: October 2, 1995

This trade happened just weeks before the 1995-96 NBA season tipped off. But it turned out to be a trade that help make NBA history. On this date, Rodman was acquired from the Spurs in exchange for Will Purdue.

Rodman was only a Bull for three seasons, but in those seasons he led the league in rebounding and helped Chicago win three consecutive championships. He averaged at least 14 rebounds per game in all three seasons with the Bulls. 

And Not only that, but the Bulls also won an NBA record 72 games followed by 69 and 62 wins after that. While Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were the stars and leaders of the team, this deal made the Bulls one of the most dominant teams in NBA history.

Acquisition: Los Angeles Lakers Acquire Karl Malone and Gary Payton

Date Acquired: July 16, 2003

Malone and Payton weren't the players they used to be when they signed as free agents with L.A., but with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal by their sides the Lakers were automatic favorites to win it all.

Though the Lakers were already championship contenders with Bryant and O'Neal alone—and not to mention Phil Jackson, Malone and Payton put them over the top.

Things went exactly as everyone thought they would during the regular season. Los Angeles went on a pair of 10-game winning streaks, and won 56 games for the season. Unfortunately, this team was a bit dysfunctional due to the locker room beef between Kobe and Shaq.

Despite the Kobe-Shaq feud, Los Angeles still managed to reach the NBA Finals as expected. But lost the series in five games to the Detroit Pistons. The "Fab Four" team only lasted one season because Karl Malone retired, Shaquille O'Neal was granted the trade he requested and Gary Payton was traded to the Boston Celtics.

Acquisition: Boston Celtics Acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett

Date Acquired: June 29, 2007 (Allen), July 31, 2007 (Garnett)

The Celtics were definitely headed in the wrong direction after the 2007 season. That is until draft day when Danny Ainge pulled a draft day blockbuster, acquiring Allen from the Seattle Sonics. And one month later, Ainge pulled another shocker when he brought in Garnett from Minnesota.

Now all of a sudden a lottery team was built to win a championship. Allen, Garnett, along with Paul Pierce led the C's to the biggest regular season turnaround in NBA history, going from 24 wins the previous year to 66 the next. Not to mention, they also won their 17th NBA title as a franchise.

Acquisition: Shaquille O'Neal Signs with Los Angeles Lakers

Date Acquired: July 18, 1996

O'Neal was just what the Lakers had been missing and looking for: a dominant center. The Lakers had also drafted a Kobe Bryant a month earlier. And once Phil Jackson came aboard to coach the team in 1999, it was clear that this team was serious about winning.

Not only did Shaq win MVP in 2000, but he also won three consecutive championships from 2000-2002. Though Kareem Abdul-Jabbar helped the Lakers win five championships once the Lakers acquired him, this just may be the best off-season acquisition of all-time.

Unfortunately, his time in L.A. ended on a bad note, when the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals.

Acquisition: Shaquille traded from Los Angeles Lakers to Miami

Date Acquired: July 14, 2004

As mentioned in the Malone-Payton acquisition, Shaq was granted the trade he requested after the Lakers' embarrassing loss in the NBA Finals. That destination turned out to be the Miami Heat, where a young Dwyane Wade and a decent supporting cast were waiting.

Once O'Neal arrived to Miami, Heat President Pat Riley was eager to coach this team. That didn't take long as current coach Stan Van Gundy resigned as head coach just games into the regular season, leaving the door wide open for Riley.

Of course Riley stepped right in to coach the team, and did exactly what he planned by leading them to a title. Miami defeated Dallas in the Finals in six games despite starting the series in a 0-2 hole. And while Wade was the MVP of that series, the acquisition of Shaq turned Miami into instant contenders.


Michael Whittenberg is one of two NBA Community Leaders for

Information from and was used in this column

(Photos Courtesy of latimes, and Getty Images)


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