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10 Notable NBA Trade Deadline Deals of the 2010s

February 06, 2019


Its hard to believe that the 2010s have come to an end. With that said, its been an incredible decade for the NBA. Weve seen the ends and beginnings of new generations break onto the court, with veterans and legends retiring, and newcomers establishing themselves as superstars.

But one of the things that defined the 2010s in the NBA were its trade deadlines. If you have followed them from the beginning, youve no doubt felt every emotional response possible ranging from excitement and awe to shock and disappointment.

For a moment of nostalgia and reflection, were going to look at the trade deadlines that defined the 2010s.

2010: The Wizards-Mavericks Trade

The start of the decade opened up with a blockbuster trade deal that took place between the Washington Wizards and the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks would receive Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson, while the Wizards would receive Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross, and James Singleton.

The trade was ideal for both sides, but the Mavericks would enjoy the real perks here. Securing a talent like Caron Butler would give them perimeter scoring and mental toughness, not to mention the defensive/rebounding powerhouse that was Brendan Haywood, along with Erick Dampier. As for the Wizards, the move would allow them to rebuild their franchise and shave off salary costs.

2011: Carmelo Anthony to Knicks

The Carmelo Anthony trade was one of biggest NBA events of 2011, for many reasons. For one, the trade involved three teams and 13 players. Also, the trade carried immense significance for the New York Knicks who were struggling as a team, as well as for Carmelo Anthony who was 26-years-old at the time. They would go on to make the playoffs in their first three seasons with Anthony, but would advance past the first round just once.

Also in 2011, the Los Angeles Clippers used their pick to dump Baron Davis on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The result? Cleveland ended up with the first overall pick who happened to be Kyrie Irving - a pick that the Clippers lost out on. Of course, Irvings tenure on the Cavaliers would no doubt prove to be a successful one thanks to his 2015-2016 championship win with former teammate, LeBron James.

2012: The Nuggets-Clippers-Wizards 3-Way Trade

2012 was supposed to be the year the world ended according to some in pop culture. But the 2012 NBA trade deadline no doubt felt like doomsday for the Washington Wizards. They certainly received the short end of the stick in a three-team trade involving themselves, the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Essentially, it went down like this:

  • The Nuggets traded Nene to the Wizards.
  • The Wizards traded JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to the Nuggets and Nick Young to the Clippers.
  • The Clippers traded Brian Cook to the Nuggets and a 2015 second-round pick (from the Hornets) to the Wizards.

The Wizards swapped a talented JaVale McGee for an older and more costly Nene. And swapping Nick Young for a second-round pick was a mind-boggling decision. To this day were still wondering what theyre thinking.

2013: Thomas Robinson to the Houston Rockets

If you want to see two ends of the trade spectrum, look no further than the 2013 NBA trade deadline. The standout deal was the transaction that took place between the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings. The Rockets acquired Thomas Robinson, Tyler Honeycutt, and Francisco Garcia from the Kings for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas, and $1 million in cash.

Houston emerged as the clear winner because Robinson was chosen as the No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft. Although he struggled with Sacramento, he demonstrated his raw athleticism and rebounding ability. As for Sacramento, letting go of Robinson - who again, was a top-five draft pick - was a short-sighted decision because they didnt give him time to evolve as a player. It was likely a financial decision that came at the expense of the teams future.

2014: Jason Terry/Marcus Thornton Trade

The biggest transaction of 2014 involved the Sacramento Kings once again, but this time, with the Brooklyn Nets. In the deal, Sacramento received shooting guard Jason Terry on a two-year, $11.5 million contract as well as power forward Reggie Evans on a two-year, $3.5 million contract.

In terms of performance, the trade didnt really benefit either team because both Terry and Thornton were putting up the worst numbers of their career. Nevertheless, it was beneficial for Sacramento from a financial perspective.

Ultimately, it gave Sacramento some wiggle room if Terry was to negotiate a buyout or if he decided to retire (considering he was 37 at the time). More importantly, Sacramento was more invested in the young Ben McLemore, who showed himself as a promising talent at the time.

As for Brooklyn, who had received the 26-year-old Thornton, they would have to wrestle with his career-lows, but could still hope to see a recovery in terms of his production.

2015: Isaiah Thomas & Goran Dragic Trades

One of the most buzzed-about transactions for 2015 involved Isaiah Thomas and his supporting cast - Jonas Jerebko and Gigi Datome - who would end up on the Boston Celtics. The team would go on to give up Tayshaun Prince and Marcus Thornton (the latter of whom was the 2016 first-round pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers).

Initially, no one really knew how Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart would gel together, although they had complementary skill sets. For example, Bradley had strong defensive chops while Thomas was recognized for his floor-spacing ability.

Another buzzworthy deal took place down south with the Miami Heat with a deal - scratch that, a steal, when they acquired Goran Dragic. They gave up Danny Granger, Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, Jordan Hamilton, a 2017 first-round pick and 2021 first-round pick for Dragic. The deal suddenly gave Miami - which before the deadline was just mediocre - a new, threatening presence for other teams in the Eastern Conference. After all, they also had Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, and Hassan Whiteside as their starting five.

2016: Tobias Harris to the Pistons

In 2016, the Detroit Pistons was banking heavily on its young guns to make an impact, namely, Tobias Harris. He was traded to the Pistons from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings. Harris showed much promise right out of the gate as a young, versatile forward who could make shots from the outside while contributing wherever he was needed. This trade was highly beneficial for the Pistons because they were freeing themselves of Jennings and Ilyasova who werent making the strides the team had hoped for.

And that brings us to the Magic. This was a losing deal for them because they had given up their best player and got no first-round picks for him. On top of that, Jennings and Ilyasova werent sure bets for the shoes the Magic were hoping for them to fill. So all in all, there was little gain for Orlando.

2017: DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans were handsomely gifted thanks to their trade with the Sacramento Kings. They received center, DeMarcus Cousins in exchange for Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, a 2017 top-three protected first-round pick, and a 2017 second-round pick (from Philadelphia via New Orleans).

As exciting as the trade was, it was a risky gambit to pair DeMarcus Cousins with Anthony Davis, due to the leagues obsession with the wing/pace-and-space style of play. There were other concerns as to whether they payouts for the three amigos - Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins - was sustainable. Nevertheless, the trade, at least on paper, seemed heavenly.

As for the Kings, you could only react to their trade with a facepalm. The deal was apparently rushed, and worse, had much better options than what they accepted (as was confirmed by GM Vlade Divac). How forgiving can you be of a team that couldnt even secure an unprotected pick of New Orleans?

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