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NBA Cult Classics: The Best Trade Ever Made by the Phoenix Suns

Once upon a time the Suns dealt for Johnson from the Celtics.  This trade just missed the cut.
Once upon a time the Suns dealt for Johnson from the Celtics. This trade just missed the cut.

A brilliant trade can turn the fortunes of a franchise.

Sometimes the impact is felt right away. The incoming talent arrives with fanfare and conviviality. There are other trades of a more subtle variety. An opportunity or change of scenery catapults the career of a previously obscure or struggling player. Still others merely set the table for future moves. The first domino to fall in a fortuitous sequence.

Trades come in all varieties, and the Suns have a past littered with successful (and inauspicious) transactions. The focus here will be to highlight the deals made by the Suns that outshone the rest. The current administration would do well to take a cue from their predecessors and make some magic of their own.

Flip the script for a brief review of five trades that left indelible marks on the franchise history of the Suns and vote on which is the best ever.

Please vote - results will be tabulated for feature story on Wednesday.

1. The trade: The Suns send Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry to the Philadelphia 76ers for Charles Barkley.

The skinny: Very rarely does a player of Barkley's caliber become available during his prime. Barkley won the MVP in the 1992-93 season and led the Suns to their second trip to the NBA Finals.

2. The trade: The Suns send Larry Nance, Mike Sanders and a 1988 first round pick (Randolph Keys) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kevin Johnson, Mark West, Tyrone Corbin, a 1988 first round pick (Dan Majerle), a 1988 second round pick (Dean Garrett), and a 1989 second round pick (Greg Grant).

The skinny: KJ, Majerle, and West were integral components of a fabulous era of Suns basketball which saw the team win no less than 53 games in a season for the next seven years.

3. The trade: The Suns send Michael Finley, Sam Cassell, A.C. Green and a 1998 second round pick (Greg Buckner) to the Dallas Mavericks for Jason Kidd, Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer.

The skinny: Kidd would lead the Suns to three 50+ win seasons during his four+ years with the team (one year was a shortened season). Kidd cemented himself as a bona fide star during his tenure in Phoenix.

4. The trade: The Suns send Steve Nash to the Dallas Mavericks for Pat Garrity, Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells, and a 1999 first round pick (Shawn Marion).

The skinny: Nash leaves. Enter the Matrix. Marion would play a pivotal role in the 7SOL era of Phoenix Suns basketball as the team won at least 54 games in four straight seasons.

5. The trade: The Suns send Anfernee Hardaway, Stephon Marbury and Cezary Trybanski to the New York Knicks for Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Maciej Lampe, Milos Vujanic, a 2004 first round pick (Kirk Snyder) and a 2010 first round pick (Gordon Hayward).

The skinny: Nash returns. This deal freed up the cap space needed to sign Nash as a free agent in the off season. Nash wins two MVP awards and the Suns reach the Conference Finals three times in six years.