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Who was the biggest trade in NBA history?

On July 31, 2007, Kevin Garnett traded the Wolves for the Celtics in the biggest trade ever. 11 months later, he won the championship ring.

On July 31, 2007, Kevin Garnett traded the Wolves for the Celtics in the biggest trade ever. 11 months later, he won the championship ring.
Jared WickerhamGetty Images

During the transfers window, it is never a bad idea to remember some of the more memorable deals from previous years. What is necessary and what is not in exchange for one player or another, how much does it cost to get a top-tier star and how many players and rounds of the draft do you have to give (or are you willing to give) to get sign someone? The latest offer from the Knicks for Donovan Mitchell (but curiously not for Kevin Durant, the most desirable star on the market in recent times) says it all: Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, extra salary and five first rounds, at least two unprotected. The Jazz, who want much more, have said no. Are they right or are they wrong?

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It’s not the first time that this has happened. Not even for a player as valuable as Durant - one that could win you the ring, who tried everything he could to leave. The leaks related to the Celtics are a good example of this - the offer, according to rumours, was for Jaylen Brown and Derrick White in exchange for the star. The Nets asked that Marcus Smart be included in the trade. In Boston, they were silent. There are those who say that they should have included Jayson Tatum in the transfer and keep everyone else. As far as the Celtics are concerned, their franchise is not for sale. Once again, are they right?

On 31 July 2007, the NBA was shook to the core. Kevin Garnett, a man who had spent 12 seasons and had played 927 games with the Timberwolves, left Minnesota to join the Celtics. In exchange, the Greens gave Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff plus money, a first-round pick by Boston from the 2009 NBA Draft, and a first-round pick by Minnesota from the same draft. they owned from the transfer between Ricky Davis and Wally Szczerbiak in 2006 unprotected. In other words: seven players in exchange for one - outrageous, but also the biggest trade in NBA history. Never have so many players have been included in a deal for a single player. And, at the moment, it doesn’t look that something similar will be repeated.

In context and within an absolute a posteriori rationalization, there is a certain logic to that transfer. Garnett, emotionally and sentimentally attached to the Timberwolves, asked for the transfer after three consecutive seasons without reaching the playoffs, something they hadn’t done since 2004, when they made it to the Western Conference finals after a titanic series against the Kings (4- 3 with a final victory at the Target Center) and fell to the Play Station Lakers (Kobe, Shaq, Payton and Malone) 4-2 with a number of injuries. The ascending dynamics of the then relatively young entity was tremendous, but in a way could be understood - a small market, barely 15 years of history after joining the NBA in the 1989 expansion, with a reference like Garnett who became the MVP in 2004. However, things didn’t go well, the team went under, Garnett wanted out... and left.

The Wolves’ situation was not easy. When Kobe asked for the trade that same summer and met with Jerry Buss and Phil Jackson, The Doctor explained it perfectly: “If I had a four-carat diamond, do you think I would trade it for four? a carat each? Well no, in a value we will never achieve a value equivalent to what you contribute to the team”. The Lakers owner and his boundless vision of the future in all aspects of life, was proved right. Kobe didn’t leave, but Garnett did, and no matter how many pieces the Wolves received in the transfer, including some very interesting ones like Al Jefferson, they never got back on their feet and didn’t return to the playoffs until 2018. It was a gargantuan crisis that they couldn’t resolve even with Rick Adelman on the bench, nor with a promising Kevin Love nor, of course, with Garnett who returned in 2015 to retire in the place he considered his home and from which he parted ways due to Glen Taylor’s management, or mismanagement as he saw it.

The Celtics won that ring. The green tide created that year was one of the most impressive defensive outfits in history, causing its rivals to post the worst field goal percentage in the entire league and, at the same time, the highest turnover average, unprecedented since records began. And all thanks to Garnett, the Best Defender and who came third in the voting for an MVP won by Kobe Bryant, defeated along with his Lakers in those finals, back in 2008. And all of this only serves us to ask ourselves the million dollar question. How much do you have to give for one of the best stars in the best league in the world? Is it possible to get something remotely similar in a transfer, or will you always lose out? The million dollar question. That’s where we are.


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