There's a very real possibility that one or both of James Harden and Russell Westbrook at some point in the near future, despite insistence from the Rockets that neither guy is going anywhere if the franchise's requirements in a deal aren't satisfied.
This would mean that one or two practical locks for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame — both have a 99.9 percent Hall of Fame probability according to Basketball Reference — could be moved in one season. It's not unheard of for Hall of Famers to get dealt away from a certain team, though, as you'll soon find out from the list below. Whether it was before they had blossomed into the talent they'd eventually be remembered for, or during their prime, or after their best years were behind them, these nine legends were all parts of trades during their NBA careers.
All stats and trade information retrieved from Basketball Reference.
Traded by the Seattle SuperSonics with a 1989 first-round draft pick to the Bulls for Olden Polynice, a 1988 second-round draft pick and a 1989 first-round draft pick.
Pippen, right after the Sonics took him fifth overall in the 1987 draft, was shipped off to Chicago, who immediately reaped the benefits. In his rookie season, Pippen played in nearly every game and became a starter by the time the playoffs rolled around. By year two, he was a key starter and had emerged as the next-best option after Jordan. By year three, he was an All-Star, and by year four, he was an NBA champion.
Polynice, who was the eighth overall selection in that same 1987 draft class, became a starting center at his peak throughout the 90s but never quite lived up to his top-10 pick status. He stayed in Seattle until a 1991 trade sent him to the Clippers in addition to two other first-round picks, and the Sonics got notable draft bust Benoit Benjamin in return. Considering the Sonics were one of the best teams in the NBA throughout the early 1990s, one can only wonder how they might have fared with Pippen lining up alongside Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.
Traded by the Charlotte Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.
In one of the worst mistakes an NBA team has made throughout league history, the Hornets decided to part ways with their No. 13 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft in exchange for proven big man Vlade Divac, who had averaged a very respectable 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game over the past three seasons. And while Divac immediately helped to bolster the Hornets' lineup — they went 54-28 in 1996-97 and 51-31 in 1997-98 — they didn't re-sign him past two seasons.
Bryant, on the other hand, doesn't need much of an explanation. The Black Mamba is one of the best players in NBA history, winning five rings with the Lakers and earning 18 All-Star elections over the course of his 20-year career.
Traded by the Detroit Pistons to the New York Knicks for Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives.
Fresh off of three All-Star campaigns for the Pistons, in which he averaged 17.5 points and 12.3 rebounds to go along with excellent defense, Dave DeBusschere had established himself as one of the best forwards in basketball. However, his time in Detroit hadn't let to much success — the Pistons came in last place in two out of those three years — and they sent him off to the Big Apple. With the Knicks, DeBusschere continued his high levels of production, earning All-Star recognition in each of his five full seasons with the team and winning two NBA titles on perhaps the greatest roster Madison Square Garden has ever witnessed.
Bellamy was good for the Pistons in the 109 games he played there before he was dealt again, this time for a complete nobody in John Arthurs. Komives was solid if a little unexciting, and Detroit's (mostly) losing ways continued until the Bad Boys era of the 80s.
Traded by the Portland Trail Blazers with Tracy Murray to the Houston Rockets for Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola and a 1995 first round draft pick.
An aging Drexler's numbers seemed to be on the gradual decline, as, though his scoring contributions remained high, his efficiency went down. From 1989 to 1992, The Glide shot a 48.6 percent clip from the field. From 1992 to midway through the 1994-95 season, that figure fell to 42.8 percent.
But after going to the Rockets, that number surged up to over 50 percent for the remainder of the regular season and gave Houston an extra jolt, specifically in the playoffs, where they eventually swept the Orlando Magic for the franchise's second consecutive Finals victory. Drexler averaged 20.5 points per game to go along with 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists throughout the 22 playoff games. He retired after the 1997-98 season.
The Blazers, on the other hand, misfired with the draft pick they received (Randolph Childress turned out to be the pick), but remained competitive for the remainder of the 1990s. Though they got close, they were never able to win a Finals in that span.
Kevin McHale and Robert Parish
Golden State Warriors trade Robert Parish and a 1980 first-round draft pick (Kevin McHale was later selected) to the Boston Celtics for a pair of 1980 first-round draft picks.
Trading the first overall pick in the NBA Draft is always a risky proposition, but it worked out quite nicely for the Celtics in 1980. The Warriors selected Joe Barry Carroll with the No. 1 overall selection, adding Rickey Brown at No. 13 with the other pick they received.
The Celtics, in addition to Parish, selected McHale with their new draft pick, and the rest is history. One of the greatest frontcourt duos in NBA history, McHale and Parish won three rings together alongside Larry Bird in Boston, making the bold first-round draft trade a favorable decision for Red Auerbach.
Traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom, a 2006 first-round draft pick and a 2007 second-round draft pick.
A one-for-five trade was appropriate considering both the literal size and metaphorical hugeness of a player like Shaq. But still, the Heat have to be considered the winners here, considering they brought home the franchise's first Finals victory in just the second year after the trade was complete, with Dwyane Wade and Shaq forming quite the dynamic duo together alongside several other proven veterans.
Immediately after dealing Shaq, the Lakers finished with a paltry 34-48 record, though the return of Phil Jackson soon brought them back on their feet, and they won two consecutive Finals at the conclusions of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, neither of which included Butler or Grant.
Shaq was involved in either deals further down the road, but not of this magnitude.
Traded by the Utah Jazz to the Atlanta Hawks for John Drew and Freeman Williams.
It's weird enough that Wilkins finished his NBA career off with stints for the Clippers, Celtics, Spurs and Magic. But imagining him throughout his career in a Jazz jersey would have been stranger still. Luckily for the Hawks, they swooped in and took the Jazz's third overall 1982 draft selection before Utah could see what an impact player he'd quickly become.
Wilkins became a starter as soon as he stepped on the floor in Atlanta, winning the scoring title in just his fourth season and becoming a regular on the All-Star team. Just two seasons later, the Jazz drafted John Stockton, and the year after that, selected Karl Malone. Imagine how much damage that trio would have done.
Traded by the Atlanta Hawks to the New Orleans Jazz for Bob Kauffman, Dean Meminger, a 1974 1st round draft pick, a 1975 1st round draft pick, a 1975 2nd round draft pick, a 1976 2nd round draft pick and a 1980 3rd round draft pick.
Talk about mortgaging your future. The Jazz, then in New Orleans, threw the entire kitchen sink at the Hawks in order to secure the explosive Maravich, fresh off of two All-Star campaigns. It was the first move the franchise had ever made, one which Andy Larsen recalls as having been made "before hiring a coach, bringing in a front office, having a stadium to play in, or even naming the team."
Did it work out? Not exactly. Maravich was great as usual, but the absolute haul the Hawks got in return featured two Hall of Fame players — David Thompson and Alex English, neither of which were actually drafted by Atlanta — and the Jazz got off to a rough start out of the gate, never finishing over .500 until the 1983-84 season, after Maravich was gone.
Traded by the San Francisco Warriors to the Philadelphia 76ers for Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Shaffer and cash.
Philadelphia basketball brought back its biggest hero, helping the 76ers to win a Finals just three years into his second stay in the City of Brotherly Love. Coincidentally, it came against the San Francisco Warriors.
Dierking only stayed in Golden State until the end of the 1964-65 season, later posting solid numbers for the Cincinnati Royals. Nuemann finished out his career in San Francisco, and was solid if unexceptional. Shaffer, who was an All-Star in his second season in 1962-63, never played for the Warriors, instead opting to join a truck company and forfeiting a very promising basketball career. The cash? $150,000, an amount that probably didn't equal the greatness of Chamberlain and what he brought to the table.