Memorable star-for-star trades in NBA history prior to Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan swap

Jay Asser 00:39 20/07/2018
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Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson go head-to-head after being traded for one another.

It’s not often a trade goes down in the NBA in which two stars are being exchanged for one another. Usually, the team surrendering the star receives a package headlined by young players, draft picks or a combination of both.

That wasn’t the case in the swap between the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, as Kawhi Leonard was traded for DeMar DeRozan (and lesser pieces).

Leonard only played in nine games this past season, but is a Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. While not on Leonard’s level, DeRozan isn’t too shabby himself as a four-time All-Star and All-NBA Second Team member this past season. There’s a chance the trade works out for both teams immediately.

That got us thinking of other memorable star-for-star trades in NBA history. The list isn’t very long, but here are some of the more notable ones.

Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas

Okay, so the real crown jewel in this trade for the Cavaliers was Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round draft pick, but they still got a player in Thomas who – albeit somewhat damaged goods – had just finished fifth in MVP voting. Making this swap even spicier was the fact that the Celtics and Cavaliers had just met in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups

Both players were on the backside of their careers, especially in Iverson’s case, but at the time this was considered a swap of two premier guards. While Iverson would return to Philadelphia after finishing out a sub-par season in Detroit, Billups averaged 17.9 points and 6.4 assists to help lead the Nuggets to a 54-win campaign and a berth in the Western Conference Finals.

Tracy McGrady for Steve Francis

McGrady was at the height of his powers when the Magic shipped him to the Rockets, having won back-to-back scoring titles and establishing himself as one of the greatest players of that era. Despite forming a one-two punch with Yao Ming, McGrady and the Rockets never got past the second round of the playoffs during his time there. Francis, meanwhile, wouldn’t make another All-Star team.


Jason Kidd for Stephon Marbury

Kidd and Marbury were both in the prime of their careers when this blockbuster went down, with the former a four-time All-Star and the latter a 20-plus point scorer. Kidd would go on to lead the Nets to two straight Finals appearances during a successful run, while Marbury would continue to put up numbers for a middling Suns team before being sent to the Knicks less than three years later.

Chris Webber for Mitch Richmond

This trade couldn’t have worked out much better for the Kings, who nabbed a franchise player in Webber for someone about to hit the final years of his career in Richmond. Sacramento would reach the playoffs the next eight years and come so close to knocking off the Lakers, while the Wizards received diminishing returns from Richmond over three seasons.

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