Trends Involving Three-Team, Four-Team Trades

The volume of trades in the NBA has been relatively light so far this season, with only four moves having taken place since opening night. None of the trades that have taken place since July 1st, the official start of the 2015/16 season, have involved more than two teams, either. That’s in sharp contrast to 2014/15, when 10 three-teamers took place, more than any season to date in the 2010s.

Still, the 2014/15 season was the second in a row that passed without a four-team trade. The last four-teamer was the blockbuster August 2012 deal that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers, with the Sixers and Nuggets involved as well. That one didn’t turn out all that well for any of the four teams, as the Lakers seriously underwhelmed the following season, the Sixers were never able to put Andrew Bynum on the floor, the Nuggets only had one season with Andre Iguodala and the Magic still haven’t reached the playoffs in the wake of the deal.

It would probably be a stretch to say that’s the reason no four-team trade has taken place since, though identifying a clear-cut explanation is difficult. The long-term effects of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, which imposed greater tax risk for teams and made it more difficult for taxpayers to match salaries and engineer sign-and-trades, probably has to do with it, and the rising salary cap may well play a role, too. The NBA recently placed a greater emphasis on making sure trades involving three or more teams feature a legitimate exchange between all of the teams, and not just a draft pick that has little chance of being conveyed or a draft-and-stash prospect who’s almost certain never to play in the NBA. Still, none of this had a chilling effect on the number of three-team trades last season.

In any case, here’s a look at the number of three- and four-team trades since the 2010/11 season. For more details on each transaction, click the team names.

2015/16

  • Three-team trades: 0
  • Four-team trades: 0

2014/15

2013/14

2012/13

2011/12

2010/11

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