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The best deals made in the history of NBA free agency: LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash

The NBA’s free agents are on the verge of hitting the market on Thursday. Will one of the deals struck become an all time great free agency transaction?

LeBron James es elegible para firmar una extensión contractual con los Lakers de un año por 47 millones de dólares o dos años por 97.1 millones.
Jason Miller

The NBA Free Agency is a day away, and the league’s 30 franchises will be evaluating the pros and cons of bringing in the biggest stars on the market. There will be a mad scramble leading up to, during and after the opening of the market which begins Thursday, June 30th at 6 p.m. ET.

While uncertainty surrounds the moves that will be made over the next couple of days, one thing is for sure. There will be flops and there will be success stories that come out of this market. In this list we will highlights the all-time free agency success stories.

LeBron James to Miami, six years - $110.1 million

Not one. Not two. Not three. In his first day as a member of the Miami Heat LeBron James set some pretty lofty expectations for him, and his new teammates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the stage of the beguiling presentations we have seen in the league’s history.

Whille the Heat didn’t get their three or more titles that they pledged at the presentations, Miami took the league by storm in the four years LeBron was in South Beach.

They went to the finals in every year that the Miami Big Three was together, winning two titles against the Thunder in 2012 and against the Spurs in 2013. Individually LeBron won two NBA MVP’s, two Finals MVPs and was named to the NBA First-Team all four years.

His time in Miami came to an end at the end with a Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He would go on to make a splash in the next market later that year.

Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers, seven years - $120 million

The most dominant player to ever play the game joined forces with one of the league’s best players ever at the most history franchise ever. After four years in Orlando, Shaq hit the free agent market and was ready to stay put with the Magic after taking them to their first Finals in 1995. The franchise that drafted him didn’t show him the money he was looking for, and the Los Angeles Lakers came calling.

While he and Kobe eventually butted heads, they did team up to be one of the best front court/back court duos in NBA history. They won three titles and three Finals MVPs in three years from 2000-2002, and he also won MVP of the league in 2000.

Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, two years - $54.3 million

Did the Warriors need Kevin Durant? It’s tough to say now. But one thing is certain, with a championship team already stacked with great players, adding one more never hurts.

That’s what the Golden State Warriors in 2016 after reaching two straight NBA Finals and winning one of them in 2015. After losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers the next year, the Warriors front offices lured Durant to jump ship in the free agent market. Durant stated his desire to grow as a player, and after years of flirting with a championship in Oklahoma City he finally got one in his first season with Golden State. He and the Warriors would go on to win back-to-back titles and he was named Finals MVP in both.

He would sign on for another year with the Warriors, and they would make the finals, but lose out to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6.

Who knows if the Warriors would had the same success if Durant didn’t go to Golden State, but they made a big statement winning their second of four championships in this era with out Durant.

Steve Nash to the Phoenix Suns, six years - $65 million

At the age of 30, Steve Nash had established himself as one of the best point guards in the league, but the Dallas Mavericks were of the mindset that the Canadian’s best days were behind him.

They let him dive into the free agent market in 2004, and the Suns came calling with a long term package that the Mavs did not want to match.

Nash returned to Phoenix in 2004 after being drafted by the Suns eight years earlier. The Suns investment would immediately pay off as Nash took the reigns and carried the Phoenix to the Western Conference Finals in a year he would win his first of back-to-back NBA MVPs.

While Nash didn’t have the Finals success that LeBron or Shaq did, his impact in Phoenix was undeniable, and the Mavs must have been crushed thinking about what could have been.

LeBron James to the LA Lakers: four years - $154 million or back to Cleveland Cavaliers: six years - $110 million

You have to hand it to LeBron, where ever he goes, he wins. Say what you want about his loyalty to one team, or trying to create a legacy with one franchise. He has been the most successful drifter in the NBA’s history.

Take your pick as to which move we are talking about. James has moved around the league like a nomad, but championships have followed wherever he has gone. LeBron took the Cavaliers to the Finals against the Warriors in four straight years, winning one of those in 2016. LeBron was named the Finals MVP as the kid from Akron brought a title for the first time ever.

After losing the next two Finals to the Warriors, LeBron parted ways with his hometown team yet again and went west to join the Lakers. Two years later he took the Lakers from anonymity to an NBA Title as LA were champions of the bubble in 2020. He was named Finals MVP, as he was in his previous three championship seasons.

Although the Lakers struggled mightily this season, something tells you LeBron’s story in LA is not done. He will be going for his fifth ring next season.


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