The best players moved at the trade deadline in NBA history

Today, we are going to take a look back at the best players moved at the trade deadline in NBA history,

Major superstar players getting traded at the deadline is pretty rare, which makes the guys on the following list so special. It’s rare because rosters are filled up, there’s little cap space – if any – anywhere, and hence, little flexibility to pick up max contracts without having to make a ton of other smaller moves first.

Below, check out the best players traded at the trade deadline in NBA history, a list featuring various current or future Hall of Famers.

Carmelo Anthony

Kevin Durant

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant might be a better player all-time than Anthony but he still checks in at No. 2 on our ranking because Anthony was younger at the time of his trade with more of his prime left than Durant, who was traded last year from the Brooklyn Nets to the Phoenix Suns during his age-34 campaign.

The Suns haven’t quite looked like title contenders since Durant’s arrival through little fault of his own – though he did get injured and miss a lot of the 2022-23 regular season before returning for the playoffs – but they have been a good team, and there’s still a great chance this move pays off in spades for Phoenix eventually.

Durant and the Suns were eliminated in Round 2 of last year’s playoffs by the eventual champion Nuggets, though they fought valiantly, losing in six games with Durant averaging nearly 30 points and 10 rebounds in the series.

Ray Allen

James Harden

james harden
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden had a chance to work his way even higher up this list if the Philadelphia 76ers accomplished what they had the potential to do, and that was to win a championship.

Of course, we know now the Sixers would instead crash out of the playoffs in the second round yet again. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a contract dispute between Harden and long-time ally Daryl Morey led to Harden demanding a trade out of Philadelphia, too.

Ultimately, his wish was granted – he even got sent to the team he wanted to land with, the Los Angeles Clippers – while the Sixers recovered nicely behind Tyrese Maxey’s development into a star.

Nevertheless, Harden’s acquisition was a historically major one for Philadelphia and still deserves a spot on this list, as it’s rare to see a former league MVP get traded at the deadline.

Tim Hardaway

Tyrese Haliburton

tyrese haliburton
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most interesting trades in recent history saw the Indiana Pacers trade All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield, with more filler headed each way as part of the deal.

At first, many questioned the move on Sacramento’s part: How could you trade a second-year guard with as much promise as Haliburton and so much team control left on his contract for a non-superstar big man?

But at least so far, it seems to be working out just fine for both sides. Still, we put Haliburton higher up on the ranking of best NBA players acquired at the trade deadline because he is now coming off his second straight All-Star appearance and has the Pacers on track to make it back into the playoffs in his second year with the team.

Haliburton has the makings of a player who’s going to be considered one of the best point guards in the league for many years to come, a coup of an acquisition for Indiana.

Kyrie Irving

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

One of the biggest surprises in recent trade deadline history came when the Mavericks acquired Kyrie Irving at the 2023 deadline in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick and more second-round draft capital.

However, that move has yet to pay off for Dallas as the team wound up missing even the Play-In Tournament in 2022-23 while it sits in the eighth seed as we approach the 2023-24 trade deadline with a 28-23 record. Irving has been injured for big chunks of the past year-plus, leaving Luka Doncic where he was to begin with: lacking in star help.

Of course, Irving has the potential to take his game to another level come playoff time, so maybe this postseason will be different for the Mavericks.

Deron Williams

Domantas Sabonis

domantas sabonis
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Many questioned the Haliburton-for-Sabonis swap at the time, at least from the Kings’ perspective, but to this point, it still appears to be working out splendidly for both sides, as the former Gonzaga standout helped lead Sacramento to its first playoff appearance in 16 seasons last year, and has the Kings in prime position to reach the postseason again this year

An All-Star big man putting up huge numbers yet again this season, Sabonis was actually snubbed of the honor of All-Star in 2023-24 – one of the biggest snubs of the year – but has been excellent since joining the Kings, making him one of the best trade deadline acquisitions ever.

Let’s put it this way: Sabonis has been good enough for Sacramento that people can’t outright call the Sabonis-for-Haliburton swap a total one-sided fleecing, even if Haliburton is the superior player.

Larry Nance

Isaiah Thomas

Eddie Jones

Jason Kidd

Brad Miller

CJ McCollum

cj mccollum
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2022 trade deadline, the Portland Trail Blazers sent CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of a blockbuster deal, one of the biggest of that year’s deadline.

Over 26 games in New Orleans to close out that season, McCollum averaged 24.3 points and 5.8 assists, helping guide the team to the playoffs despite being without its best player, Zion Williamson.

McCollum is still with the Pelicans today, obviously, putting up impressive marks while guiding the team to playoff contention in the Western Conference.

Devin Harris

Rasheed Wallace

Mikal Bridges

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The focal part of the Durant trade that went back to the Nets was Mikal Bridges, a talented two-way forward who’s nearly on the All-Star tier, although he falls just under that level.

One year later, Bridges is still proving he’s more than just a role player, averaging 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a member of the Nets. However, is he good enough to be the best player on even a playoff-caliber team? That remains to be seen.

Even so, Bridges remains just 27 and could be a cornerstone piece for Brooklyn for years to come or become an excellent trade piece that would surely net the Nets – no pun intended – great draft capital if the team decides to blow things up and start anew.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype