Discussing the possibilities of your favorite club making a huge impact in the trade market is one of the more exciting portions of the NBA summer. Unfortunately, game-changing transactions are uncommon.
Perhaps this is why some of the most significant moves in NBA history have also been the most shocking. We don’t anticipate them to happen since they’re so uncommon. So, what are the greatest stunning NBA deals of all time? Let’s take a closer look.
#1 – Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers received: Anthony Davis
Pelicans received: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hard, 4th pick in 2019 draft, 2022 first-round draft pick, 2023 first-round pick swap, 2024 first-round draft pick
Wizards received: Isaac Bonga, Jemerri Jones, Mo Wagner, Lakers’ 2022 draft pick.
Anthony Davis was regarded as a top-5 NBA player at the time of this deal. The way the Los Angeles Lakers transferred their whole youthful core to the New Orleans Pelicans, along with a slew of lottery picks, stunned the basketball world.
The trade resulted in an NBA title for the Los Angeles Lakers, but since then, the purple and gold have fallen short in the postseason and now appear to be a club in need of a rebuild.
Furthermore, since winning a championship, Anthony Davis has been hampered by injuries, raising questions about his ability to be the primary option on a competitive team. Still, the New Orleans Pelicans appear to be a club on the rise, so they are probably smiling as they reflect on that transaction.
#2 – James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets
Nets received: James Harden
Rockets received: Rodinos Kurucs, Dante Exum, Brooklyn’s 2022, 2025, and 2026 first-round picks. Pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027. Milwaukee Bucks 2022 first-round draft pick.
Pacers received: Caris LeVert
Cavaliers received: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince
The four-team trade that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets was bizarre, with more draft picks involved than players. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving already on the roster, the Nets were seeking to assemble a juggernaut to compete with the Golden State Warriors.
Unfortunately, the Nets appeared to have too many strong personalities to handle, and the James Harden experiment failed spectacularly. This past season, the Nets abandoned their attempt to win a championship, parting ways with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. While the James Harden 76ers were defeated in a seven-game second-round playoff series by the Boston Celtics.
#3 – Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets
Rockets received: Russell Westbrook
Thunder received: Chris Paul, 2021 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick top-four protected, 2026 first-round pick top-four protected, two future pick swaps.
Russell Westbrook was already a superstar in the NBA when he was moved to the Houston Rockets by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Surprisingly, the returning player was a famous guard named Chris Paul. The addition of three first-round draft picks and two future pick swaps made the transaction even more appealing to the Thunder.
Both teams experienced some success with their new guards in charge, but neither won an NBA championship. While the Oklahoma City Thunder have used their draft picks to prepare for the future, the Houston Rockets are failing to add quality to their team.
#4 Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets
Denver received: Allen Iverson
76ers received: Andre Miller, Joe Smith, 2027 first-round pick
After Michael Jordan retired from the NBA, Allen Iverson became the face of the league. He astonished fans with his explosive speed, superb ball handling, and clutch shotmaking. However, in 2006, the Philadelphia 76ers legend was moved to the Denver Nuggets in compensation for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and draft assets.
In all respect, Allen Iverson was nearing the end of his peak, and the 76ers did a fine job in collecting some assets in return. However, seeing Philadelphia move on from one of the best players in the history of their club still stung and goes down as one of the more stunning transactions in recent memory.
#5 – Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks
Knicks received: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Sheldon Williams, Corey Brewer
Denver received: Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, 2012 + 2013 second-round picks, a 2014 first-round pick, 2016 pick swap with Minnesota Timberwolves
Timberwolves received: Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, 2015 second-round pick, cash considerations
Carmelo Anthony became renowned as one of the NBA’s finest scorers after entering the league in the same draft cycle as LeBron James. Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks after spending numerous seasons with the Denver Nuggets.
Several players were sent to new teams as part of the transfer, as were several draft assets. However, it was the New York Knicks’ acquisition of a new franchise cornerstone, Chauncey Billups, that shook the NBA world.