Five Most Valuable NBA Traded Player Exceptions

An NBA team can create a traded player exception when it sends out a player’s salary in a trade without taking back the same total salary in return — or without taking back any salary in return. A traded player exception, which we explain in more detail in our glossary entry, can be used within the next year to acquire a player via trade or waiver claim.

Most traded player exceptions – even sizeable ones – go unused, but that’s not always the case. Earlier this offseason, for instance, the Grizzlies created a $25MM trade exception in their Mike Conley deal with Utah. Memphis later used the Conley TPE to take on Andre Iguodala‘s $17MM salary, then used the remainder to acquire Josh Jackson ($7MM). That exception has less than $800K left on it now, so the Grizzlies probably won’t use it again, but it’s proven extremely valuable this summer.

While most of the trade exceptions currently available around the NBA will simply expire once the year is up, it’s worth keeping an eye on the most valuable TPEs to see if they might come in handy for teams during the 2019/20 league year.

Here are the top five most valuable TPEs, most of which could be used to acquire a player earning more than the full mid-level exception:

  1. Golden State Warriors: $17,185,185 (expires 7/7/20): Since they’re hard-capped for the rest of the 2019/20 league year, the Warriors are extremely unlikely to make use of this exception – created in the Andre Iguodala trade – before next summer. However, when the new league year begins next July, this exception could be an interesting tool for the over-the-cap (but no longer hard-capped) Warriors to make a deal during the 2020 offseason.
  2. Dallas Mavericks: $11,825,694 (expires 2/7/20): Initially worth $21MM+, this Harrison Barnes trade exception was nearly cut in half when Dallas used it to acquire Delon Wright. It’s still valuable enough to potentially come in handy before the 2020 trade deadline though. The Mavericks are far enough below the luxury tax line to acquire a salary worth $11.8MM and still stay out of tax territory.
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder: $10,389,997 (expires 7/10/20): Besides stockpiling draft picks in their trades of Paul George, Jerami Grant, and Russell Westbrook this summer, the Thunder also created a pair of robust trade exceptions. This one was generated in the George deal. Unfortunately, since Oklahoma City appears committed to sneaking below the tax line in 2019/20, the odds of the club using this exception are slim — it could potentially come in handy next July before it expires though.
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder: $9,346,153 (expires 7/8/20): If the Thunder‘s odds of using one trade exception are slim, their odds of using both are microscopic. This TPE was generated in the Grant deal with Denver.
  5. Miami Heat: $6,270,000 (expires 2/6/20): Like the Warriors, the Heat are hard-capped, so unless they can somehow shed salary within the next several months, this exception – created in February’s Wayne Ellington deal – will simply expire without being used.

The rest of the NBA’s available traded player exceptions can be found right here.

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