From Dwight Howard to James Harden, the NBA’s biggest trades over the last 12 years

The Nets’ trade for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry lives on in shame.Mary Altaffer/AP Images

  • NBA trades always seem to be getting bigger, with more players, assets and moving figures.

  • Over the past 12 years, a number of superstars have switched teams and created blockbuster deals.

  • We’ve looked at nine of the biggest trades since 2010 in terms of sheer size and parts involved.

February 2011: Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony smiles at his inaugural press conference with the Knicks.

Carmelo Anthony in 2011.Kathy Willens/AP images

Knicks received: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams, Corey Brewer

Get nuggets: Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Kuofos, Eddy Curry, 2012 second-round pick (Quincy Miller), 2013 second-round pick (Romero Osby), 2014 first-round pick (Dario Saric), 2016 first-round pick -Swap (Jamal Murray)

This is how it looks now: A shrug. The Knicks made the playoffs three times with Anthony, but won only one playoff series. The partnership lasted six years, with Anthony acting as a tent pole for the organization until it became clear that both sides needed to move on. The Nuggets, on the other hand, were a brave, Starless playoff team that won many regular-season games but never made much noise in the postseason.

August 2012: Dwight Howard to the Lakers in a four-team blockbuster

Dwight Howard holds up his Lakers jersey during his 2012 inaugural press conference.

Dwight Howard in 2012.Reed Saxon/AP images

Lakers received: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark

Gain Magic: Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, 2013 second-round pick (Romero Osby), 2014 first-round pick (Dario Saric), 2017 first-round pick (De’Aaron Fox), 2017 second-round pick (Wesley Iwundu), 2018 second-round pick (Rodion’s Kurics)

Get nuggets: Andre Iguodala

76ers received: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson

This is how it looks now: Better leave it unsaid. Howard’s first season in LA was a disaster as he clashed with Kobe Bryant while the Lakers were never gelled. Howard left the next year. The Magic entered a decade-long period of rebuilding and mediocrity, making the playoffs twice but never winning a series. Bynum never played for the 76ers, while the Nuggets pulled out a stellar season from Andre Iguodala before going free.

July 2013: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry hold up Nets jerseys during a press conference in 2013.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry with the Nets in 2013.Mary Altaffer/AP Images

Get nets: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, DJ White, 2017 Second Round Pick (Aleksandar Vezenkov)

Celtics received: Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, 2014 First Round Election (James Young), 2016 First Round Election (Jaylen Brown), 2017 First Round Election (Jayson Tatum), 2018 First Round Election (Collin Küster)

This is how it looks now: A raid for the Celtics. Garnett and Pierce looked creaky in Brooklyn on a star-studded veteran team that never won anything and split after two years. The Celtics, on the other hand, used Brooklyn picks to build their core of Brown and Tatum. The deal became a cautionary tale not to protect draft picks.

July 2013: Andre Iguodala to the Warriors

Andre Iguodala leans forward watching a game in 2013.

Andre Iguodala in 2013.Michael Perez/AP Images

Warriors get: Andre Iguodala, Kevin Murphy

Get nuggets: Randy Foye, 2018 second-round pick (Thomas Welsh)

Jazz received: Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Brandon Rush, 2014 first-round pick (Rodney Hood), 2016 second-round pick (Tyrone Wallace), 2017 first-round pick (Josh Hart), 2017 second-round pick (Alpha Kaba)

This is how it looks now: Sweet for the warriors. To make room to land Iguodala from the Nuggets, the Warriors wisely involved the Jazz, sending them high-paying players and future draft picks to their troubles. It proved to be a smart move as Iguodala became a central part of Warriors championship runs from 2015-19, even winning Finals MVP in 2015.

June 2017: Chris Paul to the Rockets

Chris Paul holds up a Rockets jersey at his 2017 inaugural press conference.

Chris Paul in 2017.David J. Phillip/AP Images

Get Missiles: ChrisPaul

Clippers get: Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hillard, 2018 first round pick (Omari Spellman)

This is how it looks now: OK! Paul essentially joined the Rockets on a free hand, but chose to stay in the last year of his contract so he could be traded and make more money later. The Rockets almost made it to the finals with Paul the first year, but they traded him after two years. Still, it turned out to be a surprising success for the Clippers, who spent two seasons building a tough, hard-nosed playoff team. The deal didn’t hurt either team.

June 2019: Anthony Davis to the Lakers

Anthony Davis smiles during a Lakers media session.

Anthony Davis in 2019.Ringo HW Chiu/AP Images

Lakers received: Anthony Davis

Pelicans get: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, 2019 first-rounder (De’Andre Hunter), 2022 first-rounder (Dyson Daniels), 2023 first-rounder, 2024 or 2025 first-rounder

Wizards get: Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, 2022 second round pick (Kennedy Chandler)

This is how it looks now: worth the effort. Davis was the second star the Lakers desperately needed, and he helped win a championship in his first season in LA. The Pelicans, on the other hand, received a move that led to a star in Ingram, as well as plenty of design capital that will help them with future moves.

July 2019: Paul George to the Clippers

Paul George dribbles the ball.

PaulGeorge.Nikki Boertman/AP Images

Clippers get: PaulGeorge

Thunder received: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, 2021 first-round pick (Tre Mann), 2022 first-round pick (Jalen Williams), 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick

This is how it looks now: That’s better work for the Clippers! Kawhi Leonard told the Clippers he would sign with them as a free agent if they landed George, so the Clippers did what was necessary. Worth it for a championship shot, but Gilgeous-Alexander has already become a star and the Thunder now have a treasure trove of picks that could really hurt the Clippers down the line.

January 2021: James Harden to the nets

James Harden laughing on the pitch in 2022.

James Harden.Eric Gay/AP Images

Get nets: James Harden

Get Missiles: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodion’s Kurucs, 2021 first-round pick swap (unexercised), 2022 Nets first-round pick (Tari Eason), Cavs first-round pick (MarJon Beauchamp), 2023 first-round pick swap, 2024 first -Round pick, 2025 first round pick swap, 2026 first round pick, 2027 first round pick swap

Get pacemaker: Caris LeVert

Cavaliers received: Jarrett Allen, Bull Prince

This is how it looks now: Oops! The Nets pledged their future to Harden, who quizzed a year later. The Rockets aren’t good right now, but they’ll benefit from draft picks from a Nets team that’s quickly collapsing. Even the Cavs have a franchise center in Allen!

July 2022: Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves

Rudy Gobert stands with his hands on his hips during a game.

Rudy Gobert.Nick Wass/AP Images

Wolves receive: Rudy Gobert

Jazz received: Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Balmaro, Walker Kessler, 2023 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick, 2027 first-round pick, 2029 first-round pick (top five protected)

This is how it looks now: A newcomer! The trade is only days old, but Wolves went all-in to win the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Gobert’s influence is evident and he will help Wolves win more games and maybe even a playoff series. But it’s a tremendous amount of draft capital for a player whose influence is being diminished in the playoffs.

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