Tailgate Throwbacks: NBA Trade HistoryDecember 18, 2018
By: Matthew Lippe, Sports Contributor
In the past 5 years, the NBA has felt very trade heavy. From Kyrie to Kawhi to George to Butler, NBA stars use their power to move them from their current situation to a situation they see as ideal. But when did this all begin? When did stars start bargaining with teams for trades? Today, we look back at some of the biggest trades in NBA history and the circumstances behind them.
1968- Philidelphia trades Wilt Chamberlain to the Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark, and Darrall Imhoff.
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the greatest NBA players of all-time and when a team gets a hold of an all-time great, it takes pretty extreme circumstances for them to part with them. One year removed from winning the title, the Sixers were in discussions on who they should hire to take the place of Alex Hannum, who had left for a coaching opportunity in the ABA. Throughout their search, Wilt had made sure that he knew what was going on, checking frequently with the Sixers front office on where their coaching search was headed. Wilt seemed to be fine with how the search was going, until he had a meeting with General Manager Dr. Jack Ramsay. Wilt said that he had decided he did not want to be on the team anymore and that if he was not traded to a West Coast team, he would leave for a West Coast ABA team. This forced the Sixers to find a West Coast trade partner, one in which they found with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers would go on to win an NBA title in 1972, while the Sixers disappeared into mediocrity and would not get a talent like Wilt until the Doctor.
Winner of the trade: Lakers.
1980- Warriors trade Robert Parish and #3 Pick (Kevin McHale) to Boston for #1 Pick (Joe Barry Carroll) and #13 Pick (Rickey Brown).
In the summer of 1980, the Boston Celtics made a historic move that would change the NBA forvever. After a season where Larry Bird won Rookie of the Year, the Celtics were looking to add young talent around their forward. 1980 NBA Draft came as the perfect opportunity, with the Celtics having the number 1 and 13 picks. While most teams looked at Joe Barry Carroll as the obvious pick at 1, General Manager Red Auerbach saw potential in Ralph Sampson. The 7-foot-4 center out of Houston looked like the kind of center that would dominate the game in every way and Auerbach wanted him desperately, but there was one problem: Sampson wanted to stay another few years in college. So after many failed attempts to get Sampson to leave Virginia, Auerbach decided to trade the number 1 and 13 picks to Golden State for frustrated big man Robert Parish and the number 3 pick.
Bird, McHale (#3 pick), and Parish would go on to win 3 titles. On the other side, the Warriors would not accomplish more than a few playoff wins over the next decade and Carroll and Brown would only play in 1 all-star game combined, Parish and McHale would play in a combined 18.
1982- Rockets trade Moses Malone to Sixers for Caldwell Jones and a future 1st Round Pick (Rodney McCrae).
In the summer of 1982, a year removed from winning the West and going to the NBA Finals, the Rockets had come off a disappointing season where they got bounced in the first round by the Sonics. The star of the team, Moses Malone, had arguably come off his best statistical season, posting 31.1 pts, 14.7 rebs, and 1.5 blks, but felt he was not receiving the recognition he deserved. The Rockets speculated that Malone did not want to be a part of the Rockets and quickly decided to look for an adequate trade package. The Philadelphia 76ers presented themselves as the ideal partner. In long need of a dominant center, the Sixers saw Moses as the piece that would push them over the top to a Championship. So after negotiations, the Sixers and Rockets were able to reach a deal that sent Malone to the Sixers in exchange for Caldwell Jones and a future 1st Round Pick (Rodney McCrae).
The Sixers would go on to win the title the following year, and make the playoffs the following three years. The Rockets would be sent into a very short rebuild and, being able to retool with players such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, they would make the 1986 NBA Finals. However, the trade of Malone did hurt, because Moses had more years of his prime as he showed with the Sixers and Bullets.
1992- Sixers trade Charles Barkley to the Suns for Tim Perry, Jeff Hornacek, and Andrew Lang.
The 1991-1992 season was one of disappointment for the Sixers. From not making the playoffs to getting 5th in the division, the biggest let down had to be from all-star forward Charles Barkley. The year before Barkley had displayed to the Sixers that he could not only lead a team, but could lead a team to win in the playoffs. However, the next year, Barkley and the Sixers couldn’t even muster a .500 record, going 35-47. With various off-the-court incidents, some of his teammates viewed Barkley as more of distraction than the leader Philadelphia desperately needed. So, after the season, many within the Sixers organization saw moving Barkley for a package of quality players as the best move. The Phoenix Suns, presented themselves as a partner. A team desperate to move from an average playoff team to a contender, the Suns saw Barkley as the final piece of the puzzle. So, on June 17, 1992 the Sixers would send Charles Barkley to Phoenix, in exchange for Tim Perry, Jeff Hornacek, and Andrew Lang.
The Suns would go to the NBA Finals the following season, losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in 6 games. On the other side, Philadelphia would not win more than 31 games over the next six seasons and the trio of Perry, Hornacek, and Lang would play a total of only 416 games with the Sixers.
2004- Lakers trade Shaq O’Neal to the Heat for Brian Grant, Caron Butler, and Lamar Odom.
During the summer of 2004 the Lakers had come off a 1-4 loss to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals and had a difficult decision to make in terms of their two super stars, Kobe and Shaq. Kobe was a free agent and had already stated that if Shaq wasn’t traded, Kobe would leave. Shaq, still with a few years left on his deal, was not trying to mend his relationship with Kobe. The Lakers decided that Kobe, being younger, was the better player to build the future of their team around. This caused the Lakers to begin looking for a trade partner to take Shaq off their hands. The Miami Heat presented themselves as the ideal team. In need of veteran leadership, the Heat quickly offered the Lakers a trade package of Brian Grant, Caron Butler, and Lamar Odom for Shaq. The trade went through July 14, 2004 and the rest was history.
Winner: Tie. Lakers received key pieces that would fuel their future title runs and Shaq was a key part to the Heat’s 2006 title.
2012- Magic trade Dwight Howard to the Lakers in a 4-team trade.
When the Magic selected Dwight Howard with the 1st pick in the 2004 NBA draft, nobody would’ve expected the success the Magic would have with him. They would be a regular in the playoffs making the Finals in 2009. However, tension began to build up between Howard and the Magic when Howard demanded a trade from the team. The Magic, however did not quickly trade Howard, instead firing head coach Stan Van Gundy to try and appease Howard. This was an unsuccessful move as Howard still demanded a trade. The Lakers saw the “Dwightmare” as an opportunity for them to take advantage of a difficult situation. The Lakers began to work through a trade with the Magic for Howard, but it became evident that there would need to be multiple teams to make the trade work financially. The Nuggets and Sixers stepped in and Dwight Howard was sent to the Lakers.
When this trade was all said and done the only team that was not hurt in the trade was the Nuggets. They would become the 3rd seed in the West behind the great play of Andre Iguodala. The Magic still have not recovered from the effects of the trade, as they have not made the playoffs since. The Lakers made the 7-seed, but were quickly defeated by the Spurs in 4 games. Dwight Howard would leave the following season for the Rockets. The Sixers would receive Andrew Bynum, who would play 0 games with the team.
Today, we are surrounded with star players demanding trades to other teams and destinations. But let’s not act like this is anything new, because whenever there is a star player involved in a trade, there is almost some drama. And while NBA Twitter is definitely entertaining now, one can only imagine what might have happened had Twitter been around in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.