There’s always something going on around the NBA. Regardless of how much a fan base cares for a player and regardless of all he’s given them, there’s just no way that a front office will stop making moves to try and make their team better.
Even if it’s because they want out to play for a winning team or because the franchise knows that they can flip them for more/better assets, it’s getting more common to see superstars being traded during the season, even if no one sees that coming.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen quite some interesting and shocking moves go down in the NBA, even before the trade deadlines. That’s why today, we’re going to remember some of them, talking about the biggest mid-season trade by year from 2014 to 2021.
2014 – Rudy Gay To Sacramento Kings
When he first entered the league, most people thought that Rudy Gay was poised to become a superstar. And, while he failed to live up to those expectations and often fell short of the goal, he was still one of the best two-way small forwards in the league.
That’s why the Sacramento Kings were willing to risk it all and absorb his massive contract back in 2014. The Toronto Raptors traded Gay, Aaron Gray, and Quincy Acy to Sacramento in return for Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, and Greivis Vasquez.
2015 – Rajon Rondo To Dallas Mavericks
He may not get the credit he deserves nowadays but not so long ago, Rajon Rondo was one of the best point guards in the league, and it wasn’t even close. He was the ultimate floor general, a top-notch defensive presence with elite playmaking ability.
Nonetheless, the Boston Celtics felt like the time had come for them to move on from Rondo, so they traded him with Dwight Powell to the Dallas Mavericks in return for Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick.
2016 – Tobias Harris To Detroit Pistons
2016 was a bit of a quiet year when it came to blockbuster deals or moves. No top-tier player was traded mid-season but still, this move paved the way for Tobias Harris to blossom into the scorer he is nowadays and explained why he got paid that much money by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Back in 2016, Harris was emerging as a double-double threat and a 20+ point scorer with the struggling Orlando Magic. The Detroit Pistons swooped in and traded Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to land Harris, but ended up trading him to the Los Angeles Clippers a couple of years later.
2017 – DeMarcus Cousins To New Orleans Pelicans
For years, the Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins engaged in countless back-and-forths. Cousins wanted to compete at the highest level and win and felt like the franchise wasn’t doing things right, up to the point where they just got rid of him and allowed him to start over.
The Kings traded Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans in return for Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick. Sadly, Cousins’ career took a massive downfall later due to multiple gruesome injuries.
2018 – Blake Griffin To Detroit Pistons
The Los Angeles Clippers had just signed Blake Griffin to a massive contract extension and claimed that they intended to keep him until the end of his career. Then, all of a sudden, they traded him to the Detroit Pistons along with Brice Johnson and Willie Reed for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, a 1st-round pick, and a 2nd-round pick.
Griffin took his talents to Michigan and had one of the best seasons of his career before falling with an injury. Now, he’s on and off the injury report and it feels like the Pistons would be better off moving him to a contender as they continue to rebuild.
2019 – Jimmy Butler To Philadelphia 76ers
The Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves but that marriage ended soon and drastically. After leading them to the playoffs in 2018, things didn’t go well the next season, with Butler reportedly getting into it with the front office and their young star Karl-Anthony Towns.
Jimmy’s departure was inevitable so they moved him to the Philadelphia 76ers along with Justin Patton in a trade for Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and a 2nd-round pick. The Sixers were pretty close to making the NBA Finals with Butler on the team, but he eventually decided to leave and join the Miami Heat.
2020 – Andre Drummond To Cleveland Cavaliers
Andre Drummond had already established himself as the best rebounder in the NBA, by a long stretch. He was still pretty young and was making great strides in the defensive end, so that’s why it was kind of shocking to see the Detroit Pistons part ways with his franchise player and send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Clearly, they thought that Drummond and Blake Griffin just didn’t mesh well on the court and were looking to rebuild, so the Cavaliers got him in return for John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a second-round pick. Now, he’s likely to be traded again before hitting free agency.
2021 – James Harden To Brooklyn Nets
Following nine years of failed playoff runs, James Harden told the Houston Rockets that he wanted to be traded. He forced his way out of town until he finally got his way, as he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets to join forces with Kyrie Irving and reunite with Kevin Durant.
It wasn’t easy or cheap, though. Understandingly, the Nets had to give up a lot of depth to pull the trigger on such a huge move. They sent Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rodions Kurucs, and Caris LeVert to Indiana Pacers. Also, they had to part ways with 3 first-round picks and agree to 4 pick-swaps.
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