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Best NBA Trade Deadline Deals of All-Time

The NBA trade deadline is one of the wildest times of the year in any sport, and in recent years, more and more big names have switched teams to join contenders ahead of a playoff push.

We've had a look over some of the key deals from yesteryear and analyzed the impact they've had on their franchises.

Nets trade KD and Kyrie, embrace rebuild (2023)

After two straight disappointing seasons in which the big three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden hardly saw the court at the same time, the Brooklyn Nets realized it was time to break up the band. By the 2023 deadline, Harden was long gone, having been sent to the Philadelphia 76ers in a swap for Ben Simmons.

On Feb. 6, 2023, Irving was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks, where then-owner Mark Cuban would pair him up with Luka Doncic. The Nets received Spencer Dinwiddie for his second stint with the team, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick, and two second-round picks.

Three days later, Durant followed Irving out the door. Then-new Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia wanted to make a splash and he did just that as the Suns sent Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, a 2023 first-round pick that would be used on Noah Clowney, and future first-rounders in 2025, 2027, 2028, and 2029.

As a result of the Durant trade, Phoenix got to pair the superstar with Devin Booker, while after the Nets ended up with Bridges, Dinwiddie, and Johnson joining Cam Thomas, Nic Claxton, and Simmons at the core of the team.

T-Wolves, Lakers swap Conley, Russell (2023)

Ahead of the 2023 deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers added some star power by acquiring D'Angelo Russell from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Mike Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. This trade didn't push either team much closer to title glory in the 2022/23 campaign, but is has had an affect in 2023/24.

The T-Wolves have surprisingly lead the Western Conference for much of 2023/24, and Conley, at 36 years old, is averaging 10.8 points, 6.3 assists, and one steal while shooting a career-best 44.2 percent from three.

The Lakers have struggled for much of the 2023/24 season, but Russell played a big role in the team's surge to win the inaugural In-Season Tournament.

James Harden exits Brooklyn (2022)

The first member of Brooklyn's ill-fated big three to depart was James Harden as he left the Nets a year ago to join Joel Embiid at Philadelphia 76ers.

Paul Millsap also moved to Philadelphia, while Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and crucially for the Sixers Ben Simmons moved in the opposite direction - ending what had become an untenable relationship with the team that had selected him with the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Harden failed to really deliver in his first half season in Philly but he essentially accepted a pay cut this summer to allow the Sixers to strengthen their team for an assault on the championship this season, and as it stands they are very much in the mix for the top prize.

Andrew Wiggins joins the Warriors (2020)

Andrew Wiggins' move to Golden State Warriors from Minnesota Timberwolves was a move that slipped under the radar in 2020 but ultimately proved to be an inspired bit of business.

The forward struggled to make a real impact in Minnesota but played a key role in Golden State's championship success last season, finishing as the team's leading rebounder, blocker and second highest scorer in the Finals Series against Boston Celtics after earning a first All-Star call up during the regular season.

Dwyane Wade makes Miami return (2018)

Dwyane Wade may have been a veteran and close to retirement when he re-joined Miami Heat from Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018, but it was an important move for the player and the franchise nonetheless.

Wade won three championships in his first 13-year spell with Miami and after returning he reached 5,000 assists for the Heat, becoming just the ninth player to score 20,000 points and collect 5,000 assists with one team and he recorded his fifth career triple-double in his final game for the team.

Golden State snap up Bogut (2012)

This is a move where the surrounding events are more important than the player actually involved.

Golden State picked up Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson from Milwaukee Bucks, sending Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown in the other direction.

Ellis and Stephen Curry weren't a good fit and by sacrificing the former it gave the Dubs the chance to build a team around Curry – leading to a period of dominance from 2015 that saw them reach six Finals Series and win four championships.

Bogut also helped them win the first of those titles in 2015 before he exited for the Mavs in 2016, allowing the Warriors to free up some salary space to bring in Durant.

Melo becomes a Knick (2011)

Carmelo Anthony's move to New York Knicks back in 2011 was a huge deal that involved three teams and 12 players, and it became a turning point for the Knicks even if it didn't result in a championship.

The Knicks hadn't made the playoffs since 2004 when Melo gave them that bit of star quality they desperately needed, helping them reach the postseason for three straight seasons and earning six All-Star selections in his first six full seasons with the franchise.

Pau Gasol links up with the Lakers (2008)

The Lakers had been in a funk for a few years before Pau Gasol arrived in 2008 but he immediately elevated them back to a championship level team.

Gasol joined from Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Javaris Crittenton, Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, two draft picks and the rights to Gasol's younger brother, Marc.

The Lakers went on to reach the Finals Series that season but they fell short, losing out to Boston Celtics. They followed that up with back-to-back title wins, however, and the fact Gasol arrived in LA perhaps influenced Kobe Bryant's decision to spend his entire career with the franchise, rather than seek a move in search of more championships.

Pistons land Rasheed Wallace, find instant success (2004)

In terms of immediate impact, Rasheed Wallace's move to Detroit Pistons stands out as one of the best trade deadline deals in NBA history.

It was a three-team trade that involved Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, with Mike James also joining Detroit.

Wallace went on to help Detroit win the championship that season and played a key role in the playoffs, while he was named an All-Star twice in his five-and-a-half year stay with the Pistons. He and Ben Wallace formed one of the most intimidating frontcourt defensive partnerships, combining to block 4.4 shots per game in the playoffs of the team's 2003/04 title run.

Drexler deal sees Rockets defend title (1995)

Houston Rockets were the defending champions in 1995 when they snared Clyde Drexler from Portland Trail Blazers.

Drexler went on to star in the playoffs that season, averaging 20.5 points-per-game in the postseason, as the Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon won a second straight title – before Michael Jordan came out of retirement and the Chicago Bulls dominated again.

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