Great Moments in NBA Trade Season History

Wyn Douglas is an author for Canis Hoopus and a Minnesota Fan. So since he has little reason to live, he was kind enough to come up with this awesome guest piece on the history of the trade season. Oh, what a glorious day! -MM

I’ll be updating salary spreadsheets on the fly today here as deals go through.

The NBA trade deadline is a favorite of hoops fans. It’s the time when contenders, unanimous and cusp alike, ponder mortgaging the future for a better shot at championship glory. It also happens to be the same time that pretenders and bottom-dwellers look to sell off their expensive veterans for future hopes, or maybe steal a building-block from the downtrodden.

We’ve seen plenty of offseason moves since 1987, but the month of February has brought a vast amount of roster movement in the last 20+ years. In fact, there have already been 8 trades before deadline day this February.

Armed with spreadsheets, and an unhealthy obsession for minutiae, I mined 135 trades from 1987 to 2008, each happening within 3 weeks of that year’s trade deadline, in order to bring you a  look at the history of February in the NBA.

The Rules: 1) Rescinded trades don’t count; 2) cash, picks that were never transferred and trade exceptions don’t count.

Busiest Trade Season

2005 saw the most trades ever with 13. 17 teams moved 37 players and 12 picks in 3 weeks. Highlights included Chris Webber to Philly, Baron Davis to Golden State, Antoine Walker to Boston for tour #2 and Glenn Robinson to the Hornets for Jamal Mashburn and Rodney Rogers (RIP Rodney’s only paralyzed, sorry dude –ed). So that year worked out pretty well for… for… Baron Davis?

2008, however, was the year when the most assets (players and picks) were moved with 49 players and 10 picks (11 moves involving 19 teams). Memphis was the team of the season, moving 13 assets that year (you may have heard about their trading a Spaniard to the City of Angels). In addtion to Gasol, 2008 was the year that Shaq went to left South Beach, Bibby went to Hotlanta and Kidd went to Dallas.

The busiest single trade season for a team (by the number of assets) was Phoenix in 1988 with 15. They made 3 trades (something 11 teams have done since 1987) and moved 4 players and a pick for 5 players and 5 picks. I’d like to have some insight on how trading Sacramento’s mayor away affected the Suns that year, but all I remember is how the 1991 Hoops cards looked so much cooler than 1988’s.

The second busiest season for a team was Atlanta in 2004 (14 assets) when they moved Sheed twice and Chris Crawford and Bobby Sura won the fantasy season for me. Third was Memphis in 2008 (13 assets) when they sent Pau, Jason Collins and Sergei Lishouk away. I’d say they’ll regret the Lishouk move most when all is said and done.

Busiest Teams All-Time

New Orleans (including their time in OKC and Charlotte), New York and Houston tie for the most trade season trades since 1987 with 14 each.

Toronto has the highest average with .77 trades per trade season (10 trades in 12 years).

Washington brings up the rear with just 2 trades in 22 years. Sorry Cavs fans, but that doesn’t bode well for Szczerbs/Jamison talk.

Biggest Trade

In 2006, the Blazers, Kings, Nuggets and Sonics got together and made the only 4-team trade in trade seasons since 1987. It was a riveting concoction that included Earl Watson, Reggie Evans, Brian Skinner, Ruben Patterson, Voshon Lenard, Vitaly Potapenko, Sergei Monia, Charles Smith, Bryon Russell, and a 2nd round pick. I wish I could give you the time it took to read those names back to you… but I can’t.

But the biggest deal by assets was in 2008 when the Bulls, Cavs and Sonics moved around 12 assets in one fell swoop. Ready? Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Shannon Brown, Cedric Simmons, Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall, Adrian Griffin and a 2nd round pick.

You may recognize Gooden, Simmons and Joe Smith from such trade seasons as 2009. Not to mention the fact that Hughes and Szczerbiak are candidates for new jerseys by 3pm EST today.

The next biggest move is a 3-way tie for 10 (I suppose it’s mildly noteworthy that Szczerbiak was involved in the aforementioned biggest trade and one of the 10-asset trades).

Most Traded Player

Surprisingly, this is a 12-way tie as no player has ever been traded in 4 trade seasons. There are three active players, though, that could set the record this year: Mike James, Anthony Johnson and Nazr Mohammed. My money’s on Nazr.

Trades Most Likely to Alter the CBA

Another tie between Aaron McKie and Keith Van Horn for their sign-and-trades of 2008. When Mitch Kupchak and Donnie Nelson couldn’t put together the right package for Pau Gasol and Jason Kidd, respectively, they found moves that didn’t circumvent the CBA, but made the schribs in Secaucus take note. McKie and Van Horn both signed 3-year deals that only guaranteed money in the first year. Predictably, both were cut before being paid a dime past their first years.

Case Study: Isiah Thomas

No review of the trade deadline would be complete without a look back on Zeke’s performance. While I enjoy making fun of him as much as the next bloke, you can actually see progress in his moves. They go from awful, to a mix awful, questionable and reasonable to staying pat. That’s called learning.

2004: Traded an expiring contract (Van Horn) and a 2nd round pick (Turiaf) for Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed

2005: Traded expiring contracts (Norris, Vin Baker) and a 2nd round pick for Maurice Taylor; traded Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer for Malik Rose and 2 1st round picks (David Lee and Mardy Collins)

2006: Traded an expiring contract (Antonio  Davis) for Jalen Rose and a 1st round pick (Renaldo Balkman); Traded an expiring contract (Penny Hardaway) and Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis

2007: Stayed pat

2008: Stayed pat

And remember friends, keep hitting refresh today.

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