It’s not often a trade goes down in the NBA in which two stars are being exchanged for one another. Usually, the team surrendering the star receives a package headlined by young players, draft picks or a combination of both.
Leonard only played in nine games this past season, but is a Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. While not on Leonard’s level, DeRozan isn’t too shabby himself as a four-time All-Star and All-NBA Second Team member this past season. There’s a chance the trade works out for both teams immediately.
That got us thinking of other memorable star-for-star trades in NBA history. The list isn’t very long, but here are some of the more notable ones.
Okay, so the real crown jewel in this trade for the Cavaliers was Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round draft pick, but they still got a player in Thomas who – albeit somewhat damaged goods – had just finished fifth in MVP voting. Making this swap even spicier was the fact that the Celtics and Cavaliers had just met in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups
Both players were on the backside of their careers, especially in Iverson’s case, but at the time this was considered a swap of two premier guards. While Iverson would return to Philadelphia after finishing out a sub-par season in Detroit, Billups averaged 17.9 points and 6.4 assists to help lead the Nuggets to a 54-win campaign and a berth in the Western Conference Finals.
Tracy McGrady for Steve Francis
McGrady was at the height of his powers when the Magic shipped him to the Rockets, having won back-to-back scoring titles and establishing himself as one of the greatest players of that era. Despite forming a one-two punch with Yao Ming, McGrady and the Rockets never got past the second round of the playoffs during his time there. Francis, meanwhile, wouldn’t make another All-Star team.
Jason Kidd for Stephon Marbury
Kidd and Marbury were both in the prime of their careers when this blockbuster went down, with the former a four-time All-Star and the latter a 20-plus point scorer. Kidd would go on to lead the Nets to two straight Finals appearances during a successful run, while Marbury would continue to put up numbers for a middling Suns team before being sent to the Knicks less than three years later.
Chris Webber for Mitch Richmond
This trade couldn’t have worked out much better for the Kings, who nabbed a franchise player in Webber for someone about to hit the final years of his career in Richmond. Sacramento would reach the playoffs the next eight years and come so close to knocking off the Lakers, while the Wizards received diminishing returns from Richmond over three seasons.
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With the Kawhi Leonard saga finally resolved, it feels like the craziness of the NBA offseason has reached its end.
There’s still plenty of time for moves to come out of nowhere, like the Kyrie Irving–Isaiah Thomas trade did last August, but at least for the time being, it seems like the dust has mostly settled this summer.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers of the offseason so far, with the two-time defending champions once again snatching victory.
Heading into the summer, they were already in the conversation for most talented team ever. So of course they had to get even better by adding a four-time All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins.
But really, the way the Warriors truly won this summer was through their competition not improving. If anything, the Houston Rockets got worse (more on that later), while the much-fantasised Big Three of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George never came to fruition in Los Angeles.
Speaking of the Lakers, they didn’t land another star to go alongside LeBron (yet), but they still got the best player in the world – and that too without having to trade any of their young guys – to once again be incredibly relevant.
As currently constructed, they don’t have nearly enough firepower to dethrone the Warriors, but James’ signing revives Lakers exceptionalism and gives them the cache to lure other big names down the road.
They bet on their culture to win over Paul George over the course of this past season and their faith paid off.
It’s not just that they retained George, but the fact that he committed to at least three years and didn’t even take a meeting with his hometown Lakers.
It also inadvertently helps to hush the narrative that other stars don’t want to play with Russell Westbrook for whatever reason.
LeBron left the conference, so they, along with every other team in the East besides Cleveland, won in that regard. But other than that, this summer has been a dud for them.
Even though they weren’t able to coax LeBron to Philly, the 76ers also lost out on every other star player that was available, namely Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. They had a legitimate chance to close the gap between them and Boston by adding another big gun to their core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but they couldn’t wield their salary cap space like they hoped.
And in a cruel twist of fate, Leonard ended up on one of their competitors, which likely pushes Philadelphia down to third in the East’s pecking order.
Similar to the 76ers, the Rockets can be considered losers because they didn’t get better while others in their conference did.
While the Warriors got Cousins and the Lakers brought in LeBron, the Rockets lost Luc Mbah a Moute and, more importantly, Trevor Ariza, who was vital to their identity.
They still have James Harden and Chris Paul, but the latter will be another year older. Their window for beating Golden State hasn’t shut by any means, but it’s definitely less ajar than it was a couple months ago.
The NBA continues to remind players that it’s a business and loyalty isn’t always repaid.
After spending the first nine years of his career with the Raptors and re-signing with the team for five years when he was a free agent in 2016, DeRozan was sent packing to the Western Conference.
Making matters worse, DeRozan was reportedly told this summer that he wouldn’t be traded.
Meanwhile, @DeMar_DeRozan not backing off of claim he was lied to by Toronto regarding a potential trade, per source. Extremely upset.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 18, 2018
Former teammates and others players around the league came to DeRozan’s defence as the NBA world reacted to the trade on social media.
DeRozan vented himself on his Instagram story, while the Spurs’ social media team took a not-so-subtle shot at Leonard when they thanked him with a smaller font than they did for Danny Green.