In a pair of previous articles, we took a closer look at the trade restrictions placed on two groups of players who signed free agent contracts this past offseason. The smaller of the two groups featured players who can’t be traded by their current teams until March 3, having re-signed on contracts that met a set of specific criteria. The other offseason signees we examined aren’t eligible to be traded until February 6.
In addition to those two groups, there are a few other subsets of players who face certain trade restrictions this season. They either can’t be traded until a certain date, can’t be traded in certain packages, or can’t be traded at all this season.
Listed below, with the help of information from ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), are the players affected by these trade restrictions. This list, which we’ll continue to update throughout the season as needed, can be found on our desktop sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features,” or in our mobile menu under “Features.”
Players who recently signed as free agents or had their two-way contracts converted:
In a typical NBA league year, a player who signs a free agent contract becomes trade-eligible either three months after he signs or on December 15, whichever comes later. That means a player who signs on September 22 would become trade-eligible on December 22.
Similarly, players who have two-way pacts converted to standard contracts can’t be dealt for three months after that happens.
Because the NBA’s calendar this season is compressed, these trade rules have had to be adjusted. Instead of applying to players who signed after September 15, the “three-month” rule applies to those who signed after December 15, according to Marks. And instead of those players being ineligible to be dealt for three months, the exact date their restrictions lift is determined by a mapping table supplied by the league.
Here are the affected players, along with the dates their trade restrictions lift:
- Paul Watson (Raptors)
Players who sign free agent contracts or have their two-way deals converted to standard contracts after January 9 this season won’t become trade-eligible prior to the 2020 trade deadline (March 25). That means the following players can’t be traded this season:
- Alex Len (Wizards)
Players who recently signed veteran contract extensions:
In a normal league year, a player who signs a veteran contract extension can’t be dealt for six months if his new deal increases his salary by more than 5% and/or puts him under contract for more than three total years (including his current contract). An extension that meets either of those criteria would exceed the NBA’s extend-and-trade limits.
That six-month window has been adjusted downward for this season, based on a mapping table provided by the league. However, all but one of the veteran players who signed extensions exceeding the extend-and-trade limits in 2020/21 still won’t be eligible to be moved before this year’s deadline.
It seems safe to assume these players won’t be on the move anytime soon anyway, but here’s the breakdown:
Trade-eligible as of March 18:
- LeBron James (Lakers)
Ineligible to be traded before this season’s deadline:
Players who were recently traded:
Players who were recently traded can be flipped again immediately. However, unless they were acquired via cap room, they can’t be traded again immediately in a deal that aggregates their salary with another player’s for matching purposes.
For instance, having acquired Victor Oladipo from Indiana on January 17, the Rockets could turn around and trade Oladipo and his $21MM salary right away for another player earning $21MM. But if Houston wanted to package Oladipo and Dante Exum ($9.6MM) to land a player making $35MM, the team would have to wait for a little while to do so.
(Note: The Rockets could immediately package Oladipo and Exum in the same trade if the structure of the deal doesn’t require their salaries to be aggregated. For instance, Houston could trade Oladipo and Exum for a single player earning $21MM, since only Oladipo’s salary would be required for matching purposes.)
Typically, a player who has been dealt can’t have his salary aggregated in a second trade for two months, but that window has been shortened this season to account for the compressed schedule and is based on the mapping table provided by the NBA.
Here are the dates when players traded this season can once again have their salaries aggregated in a second trade:
- James Harden (Nets)
- Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
- Dante Exum (Rockets)
- Rodions Kurucs (Rockets)
- Caris LeVert (Pacers)
- Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
- Taurean Prince (Cavaliers)
- Kevin Porter Jr. (Rockets)
Any player who is traded after February 2 (without being acquired via cap room) won’t be eligible to be flipped before the trade deadline in a second deal that aggregates his salary with another player’s.
Note: Only players on standard, full-season contracts are listed on this page. Players who sign 10-day contracts can’t be traded. Players who sign two-way deals typically can’t be traded for 30 days after signing, though that window has been adjusted downward for the 2020/21 season.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.