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Player Movement 201


NBA

An introduction to trades in the NBA


With the NBA Draft happening only once a year and free-agency movement clustered around the off-season, trades are the main player or asset acquisition mechanism for many teams. These assets take the form of under-contract players, future draft picks, draft rights or cash considerations.


Trades are straightforward when they involve only players, who effectively swap teams. However, draft picks can be valuable assets as well. Title contenders may be willing to exchange future prospects for current NBA players who can help them win today, while younger teams may be willing to stockpile picks in building up their franchise. Nowadays, teams sometimes safeguard themselves against missing out on a franchise-changing superstar by trading protected picks, which will be deferred to the next draft if the pick falls within the lottery for instance.


Draft rights can also be traded. These are the rights to players who have been selected by NBA teams, but who have been signed for various reasons. Today, these are often prospects ‘stashed’ in top overseas leagues, to gain experience from quality competition. The rights to a player can be traded to another team, although these rights hold no monetary value. NBA teams sometimes include cash considerations in trades, although these do not affect the salary cap. They are sometimes added as ‘sweeteners’ or to make trades more balanced. 


Although two-team trades are more common and straightforward, multi-team trades can also happen. Most teams operate near or over the salary cap, and thus some degree of salary-matching has to occur in trades. This can sometimes be difficult to achieve, resulting in package deals for more than just two players. Teams over the cap may have to use exceptions to complete trades, for instance in using Traded Player Exceptions, which are given when a team deals away a higher salary than it receives in return.
An introduction to trades in the NBA


With the NBA Draft happening only once a year and free-agency movement clustered around the off-season, trades are the main player or asset acquisition mechanism for many teams. These assets take the form of under-contract players, future draft picks, draft rights or cash considerations.
Trades are straightforward when they involve only players, who effectively swap teams. However, draft picks can be valuable assets as well. Title contenders may be willing to exchange future prospects for current NBA players who can help them win today, while younger teams may be willing to stockpile picks in building up their franchise. Nowadays, teams sometimes safeguard themselves against missing out on a franchise-changing superstar by trading protected picks, which will be deferred to the next draft if the pick falls within the lottery for instance.


Draft rights can also be traded. These are the rights to players who have been selected by NBA teams, but who have been signed for various reasons. Today, these are often prospects ‘stashed’ in top overseas leagues, to gain experience from quality competition. The rights to a player can be traded to another team, although these rights hold no monetary value. NBA teams sometimes include cash considerations in trades, although these do not affect the salary cap. They are sometimes added as ‘sweeteners’ or to make trades more balanced. 


Although two-team trades are more common and straightforward, multi-team trades can also happen. Most teams operate near or over the salary cap, and thus some degree of salary-matching has to occur in trades. This can sometimes be difficult to achieve, resulting in package deals for more than just two players. Teams over the cap may have to use exceptions to complete trades, for instance in using Traded Player Exceptions, which are given when a team deals away a higher salary than it receives in return.