James Harden completed a blockbuster move to the Brooklyn Nets after requesting a trade from the Houston Rockets, his team in the NBA for the last nine years. Harden is now entering a new chapter in his career and it's time to check what moves made the waves move this way, before.
General Managers often get rid of potential stars because they don't fit their current timeline or because they don't believe that they'll ever reach their ceiling. Then, they wind up dominating the league somewhere else.
Luckily for us and for those executives willing to take risks, that's not likely to change any time soon given the nature of the Association and today, we're going to let you know about the 7 biggest blockbuster deals in NBA history.
Honorable Mentions: Shaquille O'Neal to Miami Heat, Dirk Nowitzki to Dallas Mavericks, Kevin Garnett to Boston Celtics.
7. Robert Parish To The Boston Celtics
Trade: Two-first round picks in the 1980 Draft (1 & 13) for Robert Parish and the 3rd overall pick in the 1980 Draft.
Red Auerbach was a genius and not only because of his coaching skills but also because of the moves he made. Back in Draft night in 1980, he landed two-thirds of a core that would dominate the NBA in the 80s: Robert Parish and a first-round pick.
The Boston Celtics traded two first-round picks and used the one they got in return to draft Kevin McHale. Then, McHale, Parish, and Larry Bird helped the franchise reach the NBA Finals 5 times, winning 4 NBA Championships. The Warriors, on the other hand, didn't fare so well until the Splash Brothers came along.
6. LeBron James To The Miami Heat
Trade: Two first-round picks (2013 & 2016), two second-round picks (2011 & 2012), and pick-swap rights in 2012 for LeBron James.
Contrary to popular belief, LeBron James didn't sign with the Miami Heat as a free agent. Instead, he completed a sign-and-trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers to 'take his talents to South Beach' in one of the most controversial and impactful moves in the history of the league.
James went on to lead the Heat to 4 straight trips to the NBA Finals, winning a couple of rings. Until that, LeBron wasn't mentioned in the GOAT conversation due to his lack of success in the playoffs, and his move to Miami helped him cement his legacy as one of the best to ever do it.
5. James Harden To The Houston Rockets / Brooklyn Nets
Trade: Brooklyn get James Harden in a three-way deal with Cleveland and Houston. Caris LeVert, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, four 1st round picks and 4 Nets pick swaps go to Rockets. Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince to Cleveland.
It's crazy to think that the Oklahoma City Thunder drafted 3 future MVPs and Scoring Champions and didn't win a single ring. Back then, there were doubts regarding James Harden's potential as a franchise player and Sam Presti rathered pay Serge Ibaka and trade him to the Houston Rockets. The Thunder broke up their historically talented trio and James Harden went on to blossom as the most unstoppable scorer of the decade with the Rockets.
Harden, however, could never deliver an NBA Championship to Houston and, after years of failed playoff runs, his frustration pretty much led him to force his way out of the team. That's when Brooklyn Nets made an appearance to steal the player.
Brooklyn were linked with James Harden for quite some time before finally pulling the trigger on that move, beating Philadelphia 76ers and landing a big star to create a Big 3 alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar To The Los Angeles Lakers
Trade: Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had already outgrown the Milwaukee Bucks after leading them to an NBA Championship and it was pretty clear that he needed to join a big-market team that better fitted his talents. The Los Angeles Lakers made the most of the opportunity and lured him as Wilt Chamberlain's replacement.
Kareem would go on to lead the Lakers to perennial contention, helping them win 5 rings alongside Magic Johnson during the electrifying Showtime era. His durability helped him become the NBA's all-time leading scorer and build the Lakers' winning culture that persists to this day.
3. Kobe Bryant To The Los Angeles Lakers
Trade: Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant.
Can you believe 12 teams actually passed on Kobe Bryant when he entered the NBA Draft as a teenager? More than that, can you believe the Charlotte Hornets actually traded him? Well, you must thank Jerry West for that, as 'The Logo' convinced the Lakers to trade aging star Vlade Divac to Charlotte in return for the shooting guard out of Lower Merion.
It took him a while but once Kobe established himself as a starter, he became one of the fiercest competitor and most talented and dominant scorers of all time. His hard work on both ends of the floor helped the Lakers win 5 NBA Championships, including a three-peat next to Shaquille O'Neal.
2. Scottie Pippen To The Chicago Bulls
Trade: Olden Polynice, a second-round pick (1988), and a first-round pick (1989) to Seattle Supersonics for Scottie Pippen.
Even though he's never gotten the credit he deserves, Scottie Pippen is one of the main reasons why the Chicago Bulls became the most dominant - and popular - team of the 90s. Michael Jordan got all of the spotlight and the headlines, but Pippen did plenty of dirty work to help them win both three-peats.
Pippen was a gifted athlete and one of the greatest defenders of all time. His work on both ends of the floor often made things easier for Jordan, up to the point where MJ even demaned the team not to trade him later in his career. There would never be a dynasty without this move.
1. Bill Russell To The Boston Celtics
Trade: Ed Macauley and the rights to Cliff Hagan to St. Louis Hawks for the 2nd pick in the 1956 Draft.
And, obviously, the most influential and impactful trade in NBA history has to be this one. The Celtics sent perennial All-Star and St. Louis native Ed Macauley to the Hawks in return for the rights to draft Bill Russell. The rest, as you know, is history, as he led the most dominant dynasty ever.
While the league wasn't nearly half as competitive as it is nowadays, it's still impressive to see that the Celtics went on to win 11 NBA Championships during Bill Russell's 13-year tenure in the league. That's not going to be matched and he'll always go down as the winningest player to ever lace them up.