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Sometime around the time were began referring to the 2010 offseason as the “Summer of LeBron,” NBA offseason moves began to capture the attention of fans as much as anything outside of the Finals themselves. From the moves that seemed to do nothing but destroy dynasties to those that created them, we decided to run back the 10 biggest offseason moves of the last 20 years in the NBA. Part 1 will cover #10 through #6, and Part 2 will take us from #5 to #1. Without further adue, the biggest 10 offseason moves of the last two decades.
10. T-Mac to Orlando
After serving as second fiddle to Vince Carter in Toronto for the first few years of his career, Tracy McGrady left for the Magic via a sign-and-trade which netted the Raptors a first-round draft pick in return. Mostly relegated to a defensive stopper and second scoring option north of the border, T-Mac blossomed into one of the league’s premier offensive players during his time with the Magic. He won both his scoring titles with the team, but the knock against him (as it always would be) was that he could never carry them past the first round of the playoffs. However, his placement on this list is not only for his effect on his new team, but also on the one he left. With his rise to superstardom in Orlando, it’s tantalizing to imagine the one-two punch the Raptors could have run out for years had they held on to T-Mac long enough for him to develop alongside Carter. While it’s possible that arenas would have lacked the capacity to hold both players’ heads simultaneously, their combination of size, scoring and athleticism on both ends would have been a matchup nightmare for anyone in the league. It’s too bad we never got to witness it; our collective basketball memory will consider the careers of both Vince and T-Mac disappointments.
9. Jason Kidd to New Jersey
After five consecutive playoff seasons in Phoenix, the Suns made a surprising move by trading Kidd and Chris Dudley to New Jersey for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake (essentially moving Kidd as a result of his domestic violence charges; Kidd plead guilty to domestic abuse charges against his now ex-wife). It’s pretty clear the Nets got the best of this deal, dumping an actual problem child in Marbury and taking back one of the top pure point guards in the league. And if it wasn’t obvious immediately, in Kidd’s first two seasons in Jersey he led the Nets to consecutive NBA Finals appearances despite the team missing the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons. Phoenix, meanwhile, failed to advance past the first round until Marbury was out the door and Steve Nash was running the point (more on that one later).
8. Shaq to Miami
While this wasn’t even the biggest trade involving the Diesel, there’s no question it had a huge impact on more than one team. Coming off a disappointing season where the Lakers failed to win a title despite an All-Star roster (Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, Gary Payton) and with the tension between O’Neal and Kobe Bryant at a breaking point, the Lakers dealt the big man to Miami for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and future first-round pick. The effect on the Lakers was immediate, as they endured several miserable seasons (for them, that is – I smiled frequently) and failed to advance past the first round until the arrival of Pau Gasol in 2008. The Heat, anchored by Shaq and rising star Dwayne Wade, became a powerhouse in the East and won the NBA title in 2006. As always, big Shaq left a big mark everywhere he went. Everywhere except halftime shows, that is.
7. Barkley to Phoenix
After the 1991-92 season, the infamous Sir Charles Barkley decided he’d had enough of being the dominant player on a declining team and demanded out of Philly. The Sixers obliged, moving him to Phoenix for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang. For Philadelphia, it only accelerated the free fall the franchise was in as their win total declined every season until 1996. Barkley and Phoenix profited greatly, however, with Chuck winning MVP in his first season and the Suns taking the top seed in the West. They were beaten in the Finals that year by Jordan and the Bulls, but continued to be a power in the West until Barkley was traded again to Houston. Despite being more well known for the things that came out of his mouth (words and spit alike), Sir Charles was an elite NBA power forward who helped shift the balance of power in the NBA away from the previously dominant Eastern conference and this is what gains him his spot on this list.
6. Rodman to Chicago
While no one debates that Jordan was the hero for each of Chicago’s six titles during the ‘90s, there are many who would contend that the second three-peat would have been much more difficult – if not impossible – had the Bulls not acquired rugged veteran Dennis Rodman prior to the 1995-96 season. After being moved from San Antonio for Will Perdue and cash, Rodman was right at home with his former enemies in Chicago, winning his final three rebounding titles (part of a remarkable streak of seven straight, playing for three different teams) for the Bulls, a team that had previously been severely lacking in rebounding prowess. His renowned toughness and defensive presence perfectly complimented stars Jordan and Pippen, both of whom were in their thirties and unable to get by purely on physical dominance like they had for the first three titles. I’d probably get my house egged if I labeled Dennis Rodman the reason for Chicago’s second run of dominance, but there’s no doubt they would have found it much more difficult without the bad boy filling in the cracks. Credit to the Bulls organization for making the right move.
Be sure to check by Friday for the top 5 offseason moves of the last 20 years.
By Ben Dowsett (@ben_dowsett)
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