The ultimate goal for every NBA franchise is to win a championship.
In the current age, two superstars of All-Star or All-NBA calibre talent is what it takes to lead a team to the mountaintop.
While a majority of the core of the Golden State Warriors current dynasty was assembled by making the most of a number of solid draft picks through great player development, even this dynasty reached new heights after signing one of the league's best talents during free agency.
This formula has held true for a number of teams in the league.
Since the Bulls dynasty ended in 1998, almost every championship team except for the San Antonio Spurs needed a big free agent signing to spark their title run. Let's take a look back at the most impactful free agent signings in recent years…
2016 - Kevin Durant to the Warriors
Everybody knows the huge impact this signing had on both the Warriors and the league as a whole.
A 73-9 Warriors team that fell victim to the only 3-1 comeback in the NBA Finals would sign one of the best players in the league in the 2016 offseason.
Since then, KD and the Warriors have made it to three straight Finals, winning back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. During each of the two championship runs, the former league MVP was named Finals MVP.
For the 2019 offseason, the superstar has opted out of his $31.5 million player option for the 2019-20 season to become a free agent.
2014 - LeBron James to the Cavaliers
After four successful seasons in Miami, where he and the Heat won two championships, LeBron James returned home to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason of 2014.
Playing alongside Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (2014-17), James and the Cavaliers advanced to the Finals in each of the four years after his return.
More importantly, in his second stint with the franchise, LeBron delivered on the promise of bringing a championship to the state of Ohio, doing so in historic fashion, by leading the Cavaliers to the only 3-1 comeback in Finals history.
After four more years with the franchise, James signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.
2010 - LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Heat
While these were technically sign-and-trade moves made by the Heat, the cost doesn't matter when you win the prize.
The Heat advanced to the NBA Finals in each of the four years that they had James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the roster. In what was the greatest four-year run of their franchise, the trio played a huge role in the Heat's titles in 2012 and 2013.
While LeBron returned to the Cavs in 2014, Chris Bosh remained with the Heat but would never again complete a full season with the franchise due to health complications stemming from blood clots.
The two-time champion mentioned that he would retire from the sport when the Heat raised his jersey to the rafters on March 1, 2019.
2004 - Steve Nash to the Suns
In Mike D'Antoni's revolutionary 'seven seconds or less' system, Steve Nash would fit perfectly as a floor general.
After signing the Canadian as a free agent in 2004, the Suns would enjoy their second-greatest six-year run in franchise history.
They were unable to conquer the West but in the six seasons from 2004-2010, the Suns registered five 50-plus win seasons and advanced to the Western Conference Finals three times (2005, 2006, 2010) in five postseason appearances.
After failing to make the postseason in 2011 and 2012, the Lakers traded for Nash to form a super team with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.
2002 - Chauncey Billups to the Pistons
After playing for four teams in the first five seasons of his NBA career, Chauncey Billups seemed to have found a fit with the Detroit Pistons.
In signing a five-year deal with Detroit in 2002, he became a crucial cog in a unit that rolled to the franchise's second-most successful six-year run.
From 2002-08, he led the team and their physical defence to six straight Conference Finals appearances.
Twice (2004 and 2005) during that span they conquered the East to advance to the NBA Finals. While the Pistons upset the highly-favoured Lakers in 2004 in five games, they fell short in agonizing fashion to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the 2005 Finals.
Billups was traded to the Denver Nuggets at the beginning of the 2008-09 season where he would impact the franchise immediately, leading to the Denver Nuggets to their first Conference Finals appearance since 1985.
1996 - Shaquille O'Neal to the Lakers
By signing the 7-foot-1 center to a mammoth seven-year deal in 1996, Lakers' General Manager Jerry West had another dynasty set in his eyes for the historic franchise.
Although the championships didn't come immediately, when the Lakers did break through the West, Shaq and a young Kobe Bryant capitalized.
The duo led the Lakers to four Finals appearance in five years, including three straight championships (2000-02).
After an upset loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat. In 2006, the centre increased his tally of championships from three to four as a member of the Heat.
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