Trade kickers are contractual clauses that pay players a bonus when they’re traded, and they represent one of the tools teams have to differentiate their free agent offers from the deals competing clubs put on the table. NBA teams combined to include trade kickers in 11 new free agent contracts this summer, comprising more than a third of the trade kickers currently on the books across the league.
They’re often used to woo stars, like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan, both of whom have trade kickers worth 15% of their new deals. It seems unlikely that either of them will be traded anytime soon, but their kickers offer further deterrence against a trade as well as the possibility that their maximum-salary contracts will become even more lucrative than they already are. Neither Aldridge nor Jordan would see their bonuses if they were traded this season, since they can’t make more than the maximum salaries their contracts already call for, but if they’re traded in subsequent years, when the maximum salaries are projected to shoot skyward, their kickers would come into play.
Trade kickers aren’t the exclusive purview of the NBA’s most well-paid players. The agents for Alan Anderson, Matthew Dellavedova and Brandan Wright all negotiated trade kickers into the relatively modest deals those players signed this past offseason. Dellavedova wields the double hammer of a trade kicker and the ability to veto trades, making it highly improbable he gets moved this season.
Sometimes a trade kicker is included in an offer sheet that a team makes to a restricted free agent in hopes that the bonus will dissuade the player’s original team from matching. That appears to have been the case with Enes Kanter, who signed an offer sheet with the Trail Blazers that included a trade kicker. In Kanter’s case, the ploy didn’t work, as the Thunder matched anyway.
Most trade kickers are worth 15%, the highest percentage allowed. The trade kicker that Tyreke Evans is unusual, as it calls for him to see either a set amount ($1MM) or 15% of the value of his contract, whichever is less.
Some players with trade kickers were involved in swaps over the summer. They can be traded again, but they won’t receive any extra money if that happens, so they’re not listed here. Below is a list of every NBA player with an active trade kicker, listed alphabetically, with the details of the kickers in parentheses. Players who signed deals this summer are marked with an asterisk.
- *LaMarcus Aldridge, Trail Blazers (15%)
- *Alan Anderson, Wizards (15%)
- Carmelo Anthony, Knicks (15%)
- Bojan Bogdanovic, Nets (15%)
- Kobe Bryant, Lakers (15%)
- *Jimmy Butler, Bulls (5%)
- Vince Carter, Grizzlies (15%)
- *Matthew Dellavedova, Cavaliers (15%)
- Luol Deng, Heat (15%)
- Tyreke Evans, Pelicans (lesser of 15% or $1MM — so, the bonus would be $1MM until midway through the 2016/17 season)
- *Danilo Gallinari, Nuggets (15%)
- *Marc Gasol, Grizzlies (15%)
- Pau Gasol, Bulls (15%)
- Eric Gordon, Pelicans (15%)
- Blake Griffin, Clippers (15%)
- Gordon Hayward, Jazz (15%)
- Kirk Hinrich, Bulls (15%)
- Dwight Howard, Rockets (15%)
- Andre Iguodala, Warriors (15%)
- Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers (15%)
- *LeBron James, Cavaliers (15%)
- *DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (15%)
- *Enes Kanter, Thunder (15%)
- Nikola Mirotic, Bulls (15%)
- Chandler Parsons, Mavericks (15%)
- Chris Paul, Clippers (15%)
- J.J. Redick, Clippers (5%)
- Derrick Rose, Bulls (15%)
- Jeff Teague, Hawks (10%)
- Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers (5%)
- *Brandan Wright, Grizzlies (15%)
- *Thaddeus Young, Nets (15%)
The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.