Brooklyn Nets: Best trade in team history with Philadelphia 76ers

Shaquille O'Neal (L)of the Los Angeles Lakers keeps the ball away from Keith Van Horn (C) and Todd MacCullouch (R) (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
Shaquille O'Neal (L)of the Los Angeles Lakers keeps the ball away from Keith Van Horn (C) and Todd MacCullouch (R) (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /

Despite the fact that they play in a division with some of the older, more historic franchises in the sport, the Brooklyn Nets, even dating back to their days as the New Jersey Nets, have established quite the intriguing rivalry with the Philadelphia 76ers, as the two teams have often been good at the same time.

Be it the Drazen Petrovic days in the early 90s, Allen Iverson’s prime against some title-contending Nets squads in the early 2000s, or the current rivalry between Doc Rivers’ squad and Brooklyn’s superteam, these two franchises have often butted heads. However, they have rarely traded together.

While John Calipari should get shamed for passing on Kobe Bryant for Kerry Kittles, he did manage to swindle the 76ers and land one of the best power forwards in Nets history, as a draft-day trade in 1997 helped New Jersey land Utah star Keith Van Horn. 

The Nets acquired Van Horn, the No. 2 overall pick in 1997, in a package that sent two first-round picks, No. 7 and No. 21 in that year’s draft, to Philly along with former No. 4 pick and Ohio State star Jim Jackson. The trade helped the Nets land not one, but two contributors on a team that would make it to the NBA Finals.

The New Jersey Nets robbed the 76ers in the Keith Van Horn trade.

Essentially, this deal was Jackson and Thomas for Van Horn and Harris. Montross played just 20 games in Philly, McLean had just nine games with New Jersey, and Cage was on the end of the bench for two seasons. Parker didn’t become an NBA regular until joining Toronto in the mid-2000s.

Jackson averaged 14.3 points per game in his 14-year NBA career, and he was fresh off playing the best basketball of his career, but he only played 48 games in Philadelphia before he was dealt to the Golden State Warriors. Jackson would play for an astounding 12 teams in his career, but Philly was just a brief stop.

While Thomas, a 6-10 forward with handles and a jumper, looked like a Hall of Famer, he never topped 14.7 points per game in a season. Thomas would spend two uneven seasons in Philly before embarking on a very long, weird career that lasted 13 seasons and included stops with the Bucks, Clippers, and Knicks.

Meanwhile, the Nets would add two players that pushed Byron Scott and New Jersey to the Finals in 2001-02, with Harris sticking around for their second conference title the following year. While Jason Kidd was the showstopper, both of these players played vital roles on the squad.

Van Horn spent the early parts of his career proving he was a high-level scorer, as he averaged 19.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on 43/35/84 shooting splits during his first four seasons. While the emergence of Kidd cut into his offense, Van Horn’s 14.8 points per game were good enough to make him the team’s tertiary gunner.

Van Horn was traded after the first title run. Ironically, he went to the 76ers, who gave New Jersey the great Dikembe Mutumbo in order to get Iverson some more scoring around him. Mutumbo was far from his Defensive Player of the Year self, but he helped New Jersey get back to the Finals (though he didn’t do much against Tim Duncan).

Harris would play in 456 games over seven seasons in New Jersey, averaging 7.7 points per game and shooting 34% from beyond the 3-point line. For nearly a decade, Harris was a reliable presence off the bench, though his performance against the Lakers and Spurs in the Finals was uneven.

The Nets in the early 2000s were the dictionary definition of running into a buzzsaw, as their plans to take home the title were foiled by Shaq and Kobe in their primes one year and an absurdly talented Duncan in the next. Still, those were some quality teams, and Van Horn and Harris played big roles in their success.

Sean Marks wasn’t the only GM to fleece some rivals in trades.