Mere minutes were left before the deadline in 2011 when the title-contending Boston Celtics and hungry Oklahoma City Thunder surprised the league by swapping Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, cash and a 2012 first-round draft pick (eventually Fab Melo) for Kendrick Perkins (pictured) and Nate Robinson. Both needs were obvious. Boston had to beef up its options on the perimeter if it was going to combat LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, badly needed a physical defensive presence for a long playoff run. With their new pieces, Boston lost in the conference semifinals and OKC fell in the conference finals.
Miami acquires a killer crossover (Feb. 22, 1996)
When the Miami Heat traded Bimbo Coles and Kevin Willis for Tim Hardaway and Chris Gatling, general managers around the NBA probably shook their heads. Pat Riley stole one of the league’s most dynamic point guards, and everyone knew it. Despite missing the entire 1993-94 season with a knee injury, it was clear Hardaway still had plenty of basketball left, and he made two All-Star games in a Heat uniform to prove it. The Warriors gave him up for next to nothing.
Derick E. Hingle
The unofficial death of '7 Seconds or Less' (Feb. 6, 2008 — 15 days before deadline)
By trading Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for a glacial 35-year-old Shaquille O’Neal (pictured), Phoenix Suns general manager Steve Kerr (temporarily) murdered his franchise’s reputation as one of the fastest teams in the league. It was truly sad to see (even if only four teams averaged more possessions per 48 minutes after Shaq was acquired). The Suns were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs and didn’t make the postseason the following year before O’Neal was shipped to the Cleveland Cavaliers in June 2009.
NBAE/Getty ImagesGarrett Ellwood
Golden State establishes order (March 13, 2012 — two days before deadline)
This quietly stands as one of the most significant overall trades of the past five years and came ahead of a deadline that was a month late due to the NBA's lockout. Had the Milwaukee Bucks never traded Andrew Bogut (pictured) and Stephen Jackson to the Golden State Warriors for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown, Stephen Curry quite possibly would have never been given the opportunity to become the Steph Curry we know today. A healthy Bogut is a game changer. The former No. 1 overall pick settles everything down, letting all his teammates fall into a natural order. He’s the anchor of a top-five defense and the second- or third-most valuable player on the best team in the league. Ellis and Curry weren’t able to co-exist for obvious reasons, and this deal allowed everything to turn out for the better.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
A Hall of Fame switcheroo (Feb. 20, 2003)
Trades that involve Hall of Fame players are fun, even if one is just a teensy bit past his prime. The Seattle SuperSonics dealt a 34-year-old Gary Payton (pictured), plus Desmond Mason, to the Milwaukee Bucks for Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie, Ronald Murray and a 2003 first-round draft pick that eventually turned into Luke Ridnour. It’s safe to say Seattle won this trade. Payton -- added to get the Bucks over the postseason hump -- left Milwaukee five months later as a free agent after a first-round playoff exit, and Allen went on to new heights with the Sonics.
NBAE/Getty ImagesAndrew D. Bernstein
Knicks trade entire team for Carmelo Anthony (Feb. 22, 2011 — two days before deadline)
Back in 2011, the New York Knicks were desperate to pair Amar'e Stoudemire with another star, so they impatiently surrendered several valuable pieces — Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, cash, a 2012 second-round pick, a 2013 second-round pick and a 2014 first-round pick to the Denver Nuggets — for Carmelo Anthony (pictured). The Knicks got Chauncey Billups and a bunch of other spare parts to balance cap space in a massive three-team deal that included 12 players total, but Anthony was the centerpiece -- and that hasn't worked out too well for New York.
NBAE/Getty ImagesSam Forencich
The Clippers save Cleveland (Feb. 24, 2011)
This was a brutal trade for the Los Angeles Clippers and quietly an organization-saving flip for the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers. To get out from under Baron Davis’ sizable contract, L.A. was happy to package its 2011 first-round pick with Davis (pictured) for Jamario Moon and Mo Williams. That draft pick eventually turned into three-time All-Star Kyrie Irving. If this deal is never made, the Cavs are probably still a lottery-bound laughingstock. LeBron James doesn’t think twice about returning home, and Kevin Love is a Boston Celtic or Phoenix Sun. Everything eventually turned out OK for the Clippers, but in a vacuum this should be considered one of the worst deadline deals in history.
Getty ImagesJed Jacobsohn
The Rockets shoot for a star (Feb. 14, 1995)
Clyde Drexler was an eight-time All-Star when the Rockets traded Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola and a 1995 first-round pick (Randolph Childress) to land him and Tracy Murray. He was also 32 years old and shooting 42.8 percent from the field. But Houston knew it needed a bit more firepower to defend its championship, and Drexler allowed the Rockets to do so, upping his shooting to 50.6 percent while still averaging more than 20 points. He retired three years later, but not before making two more All-Star Games.
NBAE/Getty ImagesBrian Drake
Detroit feeds its need for Sheed (Feb. 19, 2004)
This is the gold standard for elusive deadline deals that actually affect the championship. It was a three-way blockbuster involving the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons, where Atlanta received Chris Mills, Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura and a 2004 first-round pick (Josh Smith), Boston got Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, and a 2004 first-round pick (Tony Allen) and Detroit landed Rasheed Wallace (pictured) and Mike James. Wallace had been traded from Portland to Atlanta just 10 days earlier. Detroit went on to win the title that year but fell in The Finals against the San Antonio Spurs the following season. Wallace was clearly Detroit's missing piece.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY SportsRaj Mehta
Kobe gets a sidekick; the Grizzlies get a new Gasol (Feb. 1, 2008 — 20 days before deadline)
This deal changed everything: Kobe Bryant’s legacy, Pau Gasol’s public perception, pro basketball in Tennessee and so on. At the time, the trade was a travesty. L.A. got one of the game’s best 7-footers just as he entered his prime for Kwame Brown (arguably the biggest draft bust in NBA history), Javaris Crittenton (a future alleged murderer), two first-round picks that ultimately yielded nothing and, of course, said 7-footers younger brother, Marc. The Lakers made three straight trips to The Finals — winning two — after this deal was made, and Pau stayed with the franchise for seven (mostly) successful seasons. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies evolved into one of the league’s best teams, with Marc Gasol serving as the biggest reason. At the time of the deal, Marc was viewed as more of a roster filler than the cornerstone big man he became.