Every year, the NBA trade deadline is one of the most anticipated moments on the basketball calendar. Whether it’s a blockbuster deal or an under-the-radar move, these five trades have had significant impacts on their respective franchises. Stay up to date with this list as we update for each new trade deadline in 2019 and 2020.

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Ranking the 5 Most Impactful NBA Trade Deadline Deals of All Time

The NBA trade deadline can make or break a season for teams vying for a playoff berth. Some decisions in the past have effectively eliminated those clubs from the championship hunt, while others have sparked miraculous runs to the NBA Finals.

So, let’s take a look at some of the most consequential trade deadline trades in NBA history and rate the top five based on their influence.

5. The 76ers sign Dikembe Mutombo, kicking off a run to the NBA Finals in 2001.

Before the 2001 trade deadline, the 76ers were the top team in the Eastern Conference, but they still needed to make one big deal to become a true championship contender. So, in exchange for Dikembe Mutombo and Roshown McLeod, Philadelphia sent Toni Kukoc, Theo Ratliff, and two more players to the Atlanta Hawks.

With the Sixers in 2001, Mutombo averaged 2.5 blocks per game and was voted Defensive Player of the Year at the conclusion of the season. Philadelphia made their first NBA Finals trip since 1983 because to the deadly combination of Mutombo and Allen Iverson, but the Los Angeles Lakers won the series in five games thanks to Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and the rest of the team.

If the Sixers had won the championship that year, Mutombo’s acquisition would have ranked higher on the list.

4. In 1995, the Rockets grab Clyde Drexler and win yet another title.


In 1995, the Portland Trail Blazers trade Clyde Drexler to the Houston Rockets in a four-player deal; “The Glide” would go on to help lead the Rockets to their second consecutive NBA title. pic.twitter.com/zLUezlkr3u

— FantasyPros (@FantasyPros) February 14, 2021

In his 11 years with the Portland Trail Blazers, Clyde Drexler guided the team to two NBA Finals appearances. However, by Year 12, he was ready to go on a new adventure with a new group. Portland met Drexler’s demand by dealing him and Tracy Murray to the Houston Rockets for Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola, and a first-round draft selection at the 1995 trade deadline.

The 1995 Rockets, like the 2001 Sixers, reached the NBA Finals the same season they were traded, but Houston was able to seal the deal by sweeping the Orlando Magic in the championship series. In the series, Drexler averaged 21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game, so it’s fair to say this deal paid well.

3. Thanks to a 2011 trade, the Cavaliers were able to acquire Kyrie Irving.

The Cavs turned Joe Smith & Damon Jones into Kyrie Irving!

2008: Cavs trade Smith & Jones to get Mo Williams.

2011: Cavs trade Mo Williams & Jamario Moon to the Clippers for Baron Davis & a future 1st round pick

With a 2.8% chance, that pick turned out to be the #1 pick pic.twitter.com/4ptsFCLy3d

— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 23, 2021

The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Jamario Moon and Mo Williams to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and a 2011 first-round draft selection during the 2011 trade deadline. The transaction didn’t impact the Clippers’ season much, but it turned into a steal when they won the draft lottery with just a 2.8 percent chance of doing so.

As we all know, Cleveland selected Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall choice out of Duke that year, and all he did was hit the greatest shot in team history to help the Cavs win the 2016 NBA Finals.

At the trade deadline, some clubs simply happen to win the lotto… literally.

2. In 2008, the Lakers and Grizzlies swapped Gasol siblings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQQobw JrJU

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In the history of the NBA, just a few pairs of brothers have made it to the league, and even fewer have been traded for each other. In 2008, the Lakers traded Marc Gasol, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and two first-round selections in exchange for Pau Gasol and a second-round pick.

The acquisition of Pau Gasol was a huge triumph for the Lakers, who went on to win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. Oh, and Marc also had a successful career in Memphis.

1. Rasheed Wallace is acquired by the Pistons before to their 2004 championship run.

The Detroit Pistons won a championship after acquiring Rasheed Wallace at the 2004 trade deadline.

The Detroit Pistons won a championship after acquiring Rasheed Wallace at the 2004 trade deadline. Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton, former Detroit Pistons teammates, celebrate after winning the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 2004 Detroit Pistons made the most momentous trade deadline move of all time. In a three-team transaction with the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics, the Pistons acquired Rasheed Wallace, and they went on to defeat the Lakers the next year to win their first NBA championship since 1990. In the series, Wallace averaged 13.0 points and 1.6 blocks per game, which led the squad.

In 2005, the Pistons also reached the NBA Finals, but were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs in seven games.

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