TOP 5 All-Time Deadline Deals
We all know the Carmelo Anthony deal is huge. As far as deadline deals are concerned, it may be the most significant February trade ever made. After all, it's not often that one of the league's top three scorers gets moved in the prime of his career, let alone in the middle of the season.
But it isn't the only significant deal we've ever had in the days and hours leading up to the annual trade deadline. Here's a look at the biggest, wildest deals ever to go down at the deadline:
#5 – Three-way deal involving Sam Cassell, Stephon Marbury, and Terrell Brandon (1999) – More players than just these three were involved in this blockbuster, which ended up being one of the largest trades in league history, but the impact for Milwaukee and New Jersey was especially noteworthy. The Nets ended up with Marbury, who injected some life into the franchise, and Milwaukee ended up with Cassell. You don't see many trades where three starters at the same position are shifted around, but this one accomplished that. Poor Minnesota just didn't get much out of this deal, as Brandon faced loads of injury issues for the rest of his career.
#4 – Sonics trade Gary Payton to Bucks for Ray Allen (2003) – As far as huge deals go, this was an instance where probably the greatest Sonic of all time was shipped out for a great scorer rather than see Payton potentially walk away from the franchise for nothing. Milwaukee, meanwhile, hoped he'd do exactly that so that they could cash in some cap space. It impacted both franchises in a major way and has to be considered one of the bigger deadline deals ever.
#3 – Cavaliers trade Kevin Johnson to Suns for Larry Nance (1988) – At the time, this pick made a ton of sense for the Cavaliers because Mark Price was simply too good to afford K.J. much playing time, and Nance filled a different positional need. Phoenix came out the big winners here, though, as Johnson would eventually prove to be every bit the player Price was and more, while the draft pick Cleveland threw Phoenix's way in this deal turned into Dan Majerle the following summer.
#2 – Hawks trade Dikembe Mutombo to the Sixers (2001) – Heading into the deadline as the Eastern Conference's best team, the Sixers needed to make a deal for a big man to replace the injured Theo Ratliff. Somehow, they convinced Atlanta to take on Ratliff (as well as some other somewhat desirable pieces like Toni Kukoc and Nazr Mohammed) in exchange for Mutombo, who ended up playing an integral part in getting Philadelphia to the NBA Finals and won Defensive Player of the Year on top of that.
#1 – Hawks trade Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons (2004) – It's hard for a deadline deal to result immediately in a championship because the team really only has about 30 games left in the season to gel well enough to make that a reality. But the 2004 Pistons definitely made it work with Rasheed Wallace, who reinvigorated himself just in time to bring the team their first ring since Isiah Thomas was an all-world point guard for Detroit. When you consider the fact that all Pistons gave up to get 'Sheed was Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura, and a first-round pick, this trade has proven to be one of all-time rip-offs in league history.
Wizards trade Antawn Jamison to Cavaliers (2010) – While it didn't pay the sort of dividends Cleveland would have liked (a la, winning a championship and keeping LeBron James in his home state), there's no understating the fact this was a pretty huge trade for the Cavs. It was tough to give up Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the deal, but he was immediately bought out by the Wizards, waited 30 days, and then returned to the Cavs. Essentially, Cleveland ended up with an All-Star forward for virtually nothing. How bad might this team have been this year had they not made that trade a year ago?
Nuggets trade Mark Jackson back to the Pacers (1997) – Donnie Walsh made the decision in the winter of 1997 to bring Jackson back to Indianapolis after having traded him to Denver just the season before. Seeing how much Indy dropped off the Eastern Conference map, it only made sense to bring Jackson back, and sure enough the Pacers were in the NBA Finals only a few years later. All it cost them (the second time) was Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson, and a second-round pick.
Sixers trade Jeff Hornacek to the Jazz (1994) – As good as John Stockton and Karl Malone made the Utah Jazz, it wasn't until they added sharp-shooter Jeff Hornacek that they really started to look like a championship team. He added a whole new dimension to that team. Jeff Malone—who they traded for Hornacek—wouldn't have been quite as valuable.
Hornets trade Baron Davis to the Warriors (2005) – It was a relatively risky move for Golden State at the time considering how many injuries Davis had faced in his short career with the Hornets, but they only had to give up Dale Davis and Speedy Claxton to make it happen. Considering that a couple seasons later Baron's Warriors would best the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in one of the most exciting first round series ever, it worked out fairly well for Golden State. That said, they never did get out of the second round with Davis at the helm—not that they had done much better before the trade or have done much better since.
Kings trade Chris Webber to the Sixers (2005) – Towards the end of his career, Webber still had enough gas in the tank to make a reasonable influence on his new team, but the Sixers were extremely disappointing with Webber on the roster, losing in the first-round in 2005 and missing the 2006 playoffs completely.
Warriors trade Tim Hardaway to the Heat (1996) – Miami got two All-Star seasons out of Hardaway, who helped helm a really tough HEAT team that also featured Alonzo Mourning. Few would argue that Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles were worth at least that much.
Clippers trade Danny Manning to Hawks for Dominique Wilkins (1994) – It couldn't have been easy to trade 'Nique after 11½ seasons in Atlanta, but then-coach Lenny Wilkens felt that Manning would help the Hawks perform better during the playoff stretch. It didn't work out, though, as the top-seeded Hawks would lose in the second round to the Indiana Pacers. Those 26 games Manning played for the rest of the '94 season were the only ones he'd play for Atlanta, but considering he'd never really be fully healthy the rest of his professional career, that probably was a good thing.
Short of a team winning a championship, there's nothing quite as exciting for NBA fans than a huge trade—especially one that happens right in the middle of the year. For better or worse, all the above trades made huge waves across the league when they happened, but I think it's probably safe to say that the Melo deal is the waviest one of them all.