No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA. Only four of the most decorated players have them — Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki. Garnett retains his no-trade power even though he waived it this summer to facilitate his move to the Nets. It’s much more common that a player will gain a de-facto no-trade clause through a quirk in the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Bird rights, Early Bird rights and Non-Bird rights are all mechanisms that allow teams to go above the salary cap to retain their own players. Trades usually have no effect on those rights, but that’s not the case with players on one-year contracts. A team that acquires a player on a one-year deal via trade can’t use any form of Bird rights to re-sign that player the following offseason. The player often stands to lose financially in such a case, so the NBA allows players on one-year contracts to block trades. Despite this, some players allow trades to go through anyway, as Marreese Speights did last year when the Grizzlies sent him to the Cavaliers.
The no-trade rule includes players signed to two-year deals that include a team or player option on the final year. For the purposes of the no-trade rule, option seasons don’t count until they’re exercised, and options on non-rookie scale contracts generally aren’t exercised until the end of the season, well past the trade deadline.
Clubs retain Bird rights on players they re-sign even if they had renounced their rights before re-signing them. In other words, a player’s “Bird clock” doesn’t reset if a team renounces his rights, as long as he re-signs with that team. For instance, Jannero Pargo spent last season with the Bobcats, who renounced his rights this past summer before signing him to a new one-year contract. Pargo will be eligible for Early Bird rights next offseason, even though the Bobcats renounced his non-Bird rights this summer. So, the ‘Cats would need his consent to trade him this year.
Similarly, the Mavericks waived Bernard James this summer and re-signed him, but, just as with Pargo, his “Bird clock” did not reset, so the Mavs can’t trade James and his new one-year contract without consent.
This rule is also one reason why teams will often tack a non-guaranteed season onto the contract of an end-of-the-bench player they sign at midseason. Partial seasons count toward Bird eligibility just as much as full seasons do. Also, non-guaranteed seasons don’t function like option seasons, so their existence doesn’t invoke the trade-consent rule.
There’s one other situation that would require a team to have a player’s consent before trading him. A restricted free agent who signs with a new team only to have his original team match the offer sheet has the power to veto trades during the first year of his deal. Jeff Teague of the Hawks, who signed an offer sheet with the Bucks in the offseason, is the lone player who falls under the rule this year.
One additional note: No player signed this offseason can be traded until December 15th, at the earliest.
Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of players who can block trades this season. All these players gained their veto power based on the Bird rights stipulation unless otherwise noted:
- Jeff Teague (matched offer sheet)
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
- Kobe Bryant (no-trade clause)
New Orleans Pelicans
New York Knicks
Oklahoma City Thunder
Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs
- Tim Duncan (no-trade clause)
ShamSports was used in the creation of this post.