The February trade deadline has always been a time of "hope peddling" in the NBA, as franchises try to seize the opportunity to change their fortunes and convince their fan bases that with the consummation of a deal, better times lie ahead.
For some NBA franchises, this comes in the form of a brand-name trade, netting marquee players who ostensibly will take their teams to the promised land; for others, it is the proverbial reset button, a time to change course and reposition themselves for success somewhere farther down the line. Often, these two philosophies converge as trade partners, as a team on the rise seeks to plunder the roster of a team heading back to the drawing board.
Since 2008, there have been several examples of trade-deadline deals that have delivered immediate success to some, and the promise of a brighter future to others.
Here are my picks for the best deadline deals of the past five seasons, defining it as any trade consummated in the month of February (March for the lockout season of 2011-12).
1. Year: 2008 | Teams: Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies
Lakers received: Pau Gasol and a 2010 second-round pick
Grizzlies received: Rights to Marc Gasol, filler contracts (Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and Aaron McKie), first-round picks in 2008 (became Darrell Arthur) and 2010 (Greivis Vasquez) and cash
Unequivocally, this deal serves as the gold standard for what two teams would want out of a trade. The Lakers received a superstar who would take them over the top, cement them as contenders and help deliver an immediate Finals appearance in 2008 along with two subsequent championships in 2009 and 2010. The Grizzlies received a young talent who would eventually blossom into an All-Star center, assets to acquire more talent (the 2008 pick was traded to Sacramento for a 2009 pick that became Arthur; the 2010 pick was Vasquez) and immense salary-cap relief.