What are the smartest trades an NBA manager has made?

As a Celtics fan myself, I will have to say the Paul Pierce and KG trade with the Nets made by the mastermind, Danny Ainge back in 2013. #InAingeWeTrust

Now as for the details:

On July 12, 2013, the Brooklyn Nets officially announced they had acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and their unprotected first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The Celtics also received the right to swap first-rounders with the Nets in 2017.

(ESPN)Forsberg/Mazzeo: The legacy of the Celtics-Nets blockbuster

Now at the time I was infuriated when I saw this trade. We had given up 2 legends for benchwarmers and a crap load of picks. (I didnt understand the value of these draft picks). We were just coming off a season where we were one win away from the finals. Now all we were left with was Rondo and role players.

From the Nets side, it seemed like a reasonable trade. They had good starters and entered win-now mode so they decided to pursue two experienced veterans. Unfortunately for the Brooklyn Nets, they were unable to capitalize.

Now fast forward just 2 years, Rondo has been traded but the Celtics after acquiring Isaiah Thomas, are now in the Playoffs. They have drafted a future superstar in Marcus Smart. Now lets look at present day.

The Celtics are just 2 games behind first place in the East. They have drafted another athletic wing in Jaylen Brown who is just a rookie right now.

They own the rights to the Nets pick of the 2017 draft which will definitely be the #1 overall (In a very talented draft) since the Nets are easily the Worst Team in the NBA. These picks have also put them in position for trades for superstars to make the elite contenders. (Examples- Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Demarcus Cousins but none of them happened but were possible.) The Celtics will certainly be elite championship contenders in 1–2 years.

Unfortunately for the Nets, they will struggle for a long time. Danny Ainge deprived them of their draft pick so even when they are the worst team in the NBA, they receive no compensation.

Easily the best move I have ever seen.

I may have made some mistakes, feel free to correct me in the comments.

Well to name a few:

Kawhi Leonard + 42nd Pick (Davis Bertans) for George Hill

James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward, Daequan Cook for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, two first-round picks and a second-round pick

Dirk Nowitzki for Robert Taylor

Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac

Scottie Pippen for Olden Polynice

I would vote for the Kobe Bryant trade.

On draft night, 1996, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Charlotte Hornets agreed to a deal. The Lakers would trade big man Vlade Divac to the Hornets for the Charlotte’s draft pick: 13th overall.

The Lakers instructed the Hornets to take Kobe Bryant with the pick, a high school phenom from Pennsylvania. On July 1, the deal was officially completed and Kobe Bryant was sent to the Lakers.

Now let’s compare Kobe’s prime stats with Divac’s prime stats.

Age 27:

Kobe: 35 ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg.

Divac: 13 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 apg.

Age 28:

Kobe: 32 ppg, 6 rpg, 5 apg.

Divac: 13 ppg, 9 rpg, 4 apg.

Age 29:

Kobe: 28 ppg, 6 rpg, 5 apg.

Divac: 10 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg.


You can clearly see that Kobe’s stats were way better than Divac’s for his prime and for his career.

Also, Divac only played 2 seasons for the Hornets before leaving for the Kings.

The Lakers obviously won this trade, as Kobe led them to 5 championships and developed into on of the top players of all time, while Divac only played 2 years for the Hornets and was a just-above-average player at best.

I think we should look at deals that at the time seemed very good, and ended up being very good. This would rule out anything from Kobe for Vlade, to Kawhi for Hill. At the time these deals weren’t as huge as they seem now. If you ask me a smart trade as a GM is one that you get a very good player, for next to nothing, and your team is noticeably better. A good example would be the Gretzky deal to the Kings, (I know this is NHL but it’s a good example). I think that in coming years, we will see the Cousins deal as one that was smart. I think you can put the Chris Paul deal in here, because everyone knew how good he was when the deal was made, and it immediately made the Clippers a contender. I don’t know….just something to consider rather than just looking at deals for young players who turned into superstars right?

Masai Ujiri (former GM of Toronto Raptors, now President of Operations) made one of the smartest trades of all time when in 2013 he managed to dump off Andrea Bargnani to New York in exchange for… well it doesn’t even matter. The key thing is he got rid of Bargnani.

(The trade was for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and a 2016 1st Round Draft Pick. Toronto later used 2016 1st Round 9th pick to pick up Jakob Poeltl, but we’ll see how well he end’s up doing.)

The Pels recently acquiring Boogie Cousins for Buddy Hield and a bag of peanuts was pretty good in my opinion. Of course things haven’t panned out very well yet but basically in theory trading an All-Star and possibly the best offensive center in the league for some average role players and potentially low picks (with the addition of Boogie to the team the Pels was predicted to make the playoff) was pretty outrageous all things considered.

Trades related to Harden and Kawhi in my opinion are just looked at as genuis in hindsight but not actually that out of norm at the time of trade. No one could have predicted that they would grow to be superstars as they currently are.