5 of the Biggest Trades at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline

Daniel Ahasic
4 min readMar 17, 2023

A pair of superstars — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — and several other high-impact players switched teams during the days leading up to the 2023 National Basketball Association (NBA) trade deadline on February 9. One of the busiest deadline weeks in NBA history kicked off about a week prior when it was reported that Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving requested a trade. Irving, whose contract expires at the end of this season, couldn’t come to an agreement with the Nets on a contract extension.

Brooklyn dealt Irving to the Dallas Mavericks a couple of days later and, on the morning of the trade deadline, shipped Durant to the Phoenix Suns. Durant, who had previously requested a trade in the off-season, signed a four-year, $198 million extension with the team before the 2021–22 season.

There were 12 trades league-wide in the last 24 hours before the deadline and a handful more in the days prior. Only two teams, including the Chicago Bulls, didn’t make a single trade. Here’s a look at five of the most notable transactions.

Mavericks Acquire Kyrie Irving

Dallas dealt Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick, and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029 for Irving and Markieff Morris on February 5. It’s believed the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Phoenix Suns all presented strong offers to the Nets for Irving. The Lakers, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, offered Russell Westbrook and first-round picks in 2027 and 2029. Reporter Marc Stein, however, reported that the Nets, under the direction of team owner Joe Tsai, didn’t want to send Irving to his preferred destination, which was the Lakers.

Along with Luka Doncic, Irving gives the Mavericks one of the most dynamic and talented guard duos in the league. Brooklyn, meanwhile, gets a quality point guard in Dinwiddie and a solid role player in Finney-Smith. Dinwiddie spent six seasons with the Nets from 2016–17 to 2020–21 and averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. Finney-Smith, a 6-foot-7 forward, spent his entire seven-year career with the Mavericks. He averaged 9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game with Dallas this season before the trade.

Kevin Durant Traded to Phoenix

The Nets received a massive haul for Durant as Phoenix sent forwards Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges, and Jae Crowder, in addition to four first-round picks and a 2028 pick swap to Brooklyn for the 13-time All-Star. Phoenix also received forward T.J. Warren as part of the deal.

Johnson, selected 11th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2019 NBA Draft, averaged 10.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 200 career games with the Suns. Bridges, named to the 2021–22 All-Defensive team, was averaging a career-best 17.2 points this season before the trade. Crowder, an 11-year veteran, has been out all season with an injury.

Durant, a former MVP, is one of the best pure scorers in the NBA. He was averaging 29.7 points in 39 games with Brooklyn before the trade. He joins a star-studded team in Phoenix that reached the NBA Finals last season.

D’Angelo Russell Returns to LA

Although the Lakers weren’t able to acquire Irving, the team did upgrade at the point guard position and add depth to its lineup via a three-way trade involving the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves. Los Angeles received D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt, while Utah acquired Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, and the Lakers 2027 first-round pick. Minnesota received Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Mike Conley, and three second-round picks.

Vanderbilt and Beasley were important rotation players for Utah this season, but Russell was the key to the deal for the Lakers. The 26-year-old former All-Star averaged 17.9 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 54 games with Minnesota this season. He was drafted by the Lakers second overall in 2015 and averaged 14.3 points in 146 games with the team.

Knicks Add Josh Hart

The night before the deadline, the New York Knicks acquired Josh Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Cam Reddish, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Svi Mykhailiuk, and New York’s 2023 first-round pick, top 14 protected. If that pick is among the top 14 in the upcoming NBA Draft, Portland instead receives four future second-round picks.

Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, gives Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau depth on the wing and is known as a high-energy player with strong defensive skills. He averaged 11.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4 assists in 64 games with Portland over parts of two seasons.

Raptors and Spurs Swap Centers

The Toronto Raptors addressed a major need in protecting the rim by acquiring center Jakob Poeltl from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for center Khem Birch, a protected first-round pick in 2024, and two future second-round picks. Toronto drafted Poeltl ninth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft and traded him to San Antonio in 2018 as part of a package for Kawhi Leonard. A 7-foot-1 center from Austria, Poeltl averaged 8.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game through five seasons in San Antonio.

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Daniel Ahasic
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Daniel Ahasic is an experienced firefighter who has worked in the industry for more than two decades.