Ranking the 10 biggest trades in Warriors franchise history

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Thomas Neumann
·6 min read
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Trades in the sports world provide juicy storylines for the media and fans alike.

We debate which team got the better end of the deal and predict the consequences of the transaction years from now.

With that in mind, Warriors Wire combed through the history books to determine the team’s most significant player swaps of all time. The Warriors have made hundreds of transactions over the decades — some pedestrian, some momentous, and a few blockbusters. Kevin Durant, Latrell Sprewell and Joe Barry Carroll are just a few of the notable players traded by the Warriors.

Below, we present our subjective ranking of the 10 most significant trades in Warriors franchise history.

Warriors-Rockets - Dec. 9, 1987

Sleepy Floyd Warriors
Sleepy Floyd Warriors

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Warriors trade: Joe Barry Carroll, Eric "Sleepy" Floyd (pictured above). Warriors acquire: Ralph Sampson, Steve Harris. The skinny: This was a deal involving two former No. 1 overall picks (Carroll and Sampson). But neither player would come close to returning to his peak form. As it turned out, Floyd was the only player among the four in the deal who played more than one full season with his new team, remaining with the Rockets through the 1992-93 season. ''We have made a decision to make a change in the basic structure of the Golden State Warriors,'' Warriors executive Don Nelson said at the time. ''We are not satisfied with the direction of our team.''

Warriors-Knicks - Oct. 22, 1982

Bernard King
Bernard King

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Warriors trade: Bernard King (pictured above). Warriors acquire: Micheal Ray Richardson, fifth-round draft pick in 1984. The skinny: On the surface, it was a fairly even swap of an All-Star small forward (King) for an All-Star point guard (Richardson). But it turned out to be a one-sided deal. King would keep playing at an All-Star level for New York, leading the league with 32.9 points per game in 1984-85 and eventually earning induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Richardson, however, battled drug abuse and only played in 33 games for the Warriors.

Warriors-Knicks - May 7, 1971

Cazzie Russell
Cazzie Russell

(Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports)

Warriors trade: Jerry Lucas. Warriors acquire: Cazzie Russell (pictured above). The skinny: Here's a swap of star players hailing from rival colleges. Lucas was a seven-time All-Star out of Ohio State, and Russell was a former No. 1 overall pick out of Michigan. Although Lucas was bound for the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Warriors got the better end of this deal. Lucas was four years older than Russell, and his play began to decline with the Knicks. Russell earned an All-Star selection in his first season with the Warriors and twice averaged more than 20 points per game in the Bay Area.

Warriors-Nets - July 7, 2019

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors trade: Kevin Durant (pictured above), protected first-round draft pick in 2020. Warriors acquire: D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham. The skinny: This deal would rank much higher on our list if it weren't a sign-and-trade deal to facilitate a de facto free-agency move. The Nets were to receive the Warriors' first-round draft pick in 2020 if it fell outside the top 20. After the Warriors trudged through an injury-riddled season in 2019-20, that pick officially morphed into a second-round choice in 2025.

Warriors-Knicks - Jan. 21, 1999

Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Warriors trade: Latrell Sprewell (pictured above). Warriors acquire: John Starks, Chris Mills, Terry Cummings. The skinny: Sprewell was coming off a 68-game suspension for choking Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo, so Golden State didn't exactly have a lot of leverage in making this particular deal. Sprewell helped lift the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999 and earned an All-Star selection in 2001. None of the players Golden State received in return would provide notable production in a Warriors uniform.

Warriors-Celtics - June 9, 1980

Robert Parish
Robert Parish

(AP Photo/Jon Chase)

Warriors trade: Robert Parish (pictured above), first-round draft pick (No. 3 overall) in 1980 draft. Warriors acquire: Two first-round draft picks (Nos. 1 and 13 overall) in 1980 draft. The skinny: The Warriors dumped a future Hall of Famer in Parish and botched the subsequent draft picks by selecting Joe Barry Carroll at No. 1 overall and identifying Rickey Brown at No. 13. Carroll earned the nickname Joe Barely Cares in six-plus apathetic seasons with the Warriors, and Brown never played a major role in three seasons for Golden State. Boston, on the other hand, drafted another future Hall of Famer with the No. 3 overall pick: Kevin McHale.

Warriors-Bulls - Sept. 3, 1974

Nate Thurmond Warriors
Nate Thurmond Warriors

(Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Warriors trade: Nate Thurmond (pictured above). Warriors acquire: Clifford Ray, cash, first-round draft pick in 1975. The skinny: Chicago believed it was getting the missing piece to a championship in Thurmond, but the 33-year-old actually was just beginning to decline from his prime. Instead, with Ray as the team's leading rebounder, the Warriors went on to win the 1975 NBA championship.

Warriors-Raptors - June 24, 1998

Antawn Jamison
Antawn Jamison

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Warriors trade: Draft rights to No. 5 overall pick Vince Carter. Warriors acquire: Draft rights to No. 4 overall pick Antawn Jamison (pictured above). The skinny: In an unusual move, Golden State and Toronto swapped adjacent picks for the University of North Carolina teammates. Both players would enjoy long, productive NBA careers, but Carter would outshine Jamison by earning All-Star status in eight consecutive seasons from 1999-2000 through 2006-07.

Warriors-Bullets - Nov. 17, 1994

Chris Webber
Chris Webber

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Warriors trade: Chris Webber (pictured above). Warriors acquire: Tom Gugliotta, three first-round draft picks (1996, 1998 and 2000). The skinny: After just one season in the Bay Area, Webber decided he'd had enough of coach/executive Don Nelson. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 draft forced a trade to Washington, and the Warriors were fortunate to get a serviceable power forward and three first-rounders in return. After just 40 games, Gugliotta was flipped to Minnesota for Donyell Marshall. Webber would last four seasons in Washington before being shipped to Sacramento. The Warriors eventually used the first two draft picks on Todd Fuller (1996), Vince Carter (1998, although traded for Antawn Jamison on draft night). The other first-rounder was sent to Chicago as part of a three-team deal that brought Larry Hughes to Golden State.

Warriors-76ers - Jan. 15, 1965

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain

(AP Photo)

Warriors trade: Wilt Chamberlain (pictured above). Warriors acquire: Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Shaffer and cash. The skinny: The Warriors, looking to unload Chamberlain's $75,000 salary, consummated the deal on a staircase in Stan Musial's restaurant just hours after the NBA All-Star Game in St. Louis. One of the greatest basketball talents of all time, Chamberlain was still in his prime, winning his sixth consecutive NBA scoring title that season. He went on to lead the 76ers to their first championship in 1967 and enjoyed a successful stint with the Lakers beginning in 1968. Neumann would be a decent contributor for the Warriors, averaging 13.5 points in three seasons with the team. But Dierking only played 30 games with the Warriors, and Shaffer never did suit up for the team. This was a salary dump for the Warriors, who were on their way to a 17-63 record just a year after reaching the NBA Finals.

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