Multiple Factors Slowing Down NBA Trade Market

The rumor mill was relatively quiet at the start of NBA trade deadline week on Monday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who suggested to colleague Bobby Marks in the latest Woj Pod podcast that teams are a bit underwhelmed by what’s available on the market.

“There’s a bit of a logjam. There’s a bit of a sense of, I would almost say, ‘Is this all there is?'” Wojnarowski said. “I think a lot of GMs who want to get better – some have the assets to do it, some don’t necessarily have as many – are looking around going, ‘I just don’t see many guys out here who move the needle for us.'”

Wojnarowski still expects a busy deadline day on Thursday, perhaps with two or three trades completed on Tuesday or Wednesday. However, he’s not convinced that many of the deals made this week will involve difference-making players, noting that there haven’t been many recent conversations about presumed trade candidates such as Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon, Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, and Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic.

“I think we’re going to have trades and pieces are going to move around,” Woj said. “… We may see a lot of player number seven through 11, seven through 12 on rosters, second-round picks, a lot of those changing hands over the next 72 hours.”

Of course, a handful of major trades have been made since the 2023/24 season began, with players like James Harden, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam on the move. Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday were traded just ahead of training camp. In addition to the fact that some of this season’s top trade candidates have already been dealt, there are several other factors contributing to the slow development of the trade market.

One of those factors, according to Wojnarowski, is the continued impact of the play-in tournament, which has given teams more avenues to qualify for the postseason and has created more buyers than sellers during the season. Of the few sellers, some have set very high asking prices for their players, particularly the ones on multiyear deals. Meanwhile, many prospective buyers don’t have the assets or the flexibility to make significant deals, with three-quarters of the tradable future first-round picks controlled by just 11 teams.

A belief that the 2024 draft class is weaker than average may also slow down the trade market. “Nobody’s excited” about this year’s draft, according to Wojnarowski, so a team may be less inclined to move a useful veteran if the return package is headlined by a ’24 draft pick.

The new rules introduced in the league’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement are another wild card in play as teams seek potential deals. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the more strict salary-matching rules for teams above either tax apron appear to be creating challenges for some front offices — those teams aren’t permitted to take back more than 110% of the salaries they send out in a trade. Under the previous CBA, it was 125%.

As previously noted, several of this season’s bigger-name trade candidates are also under contract for multiple seasons, affording sellers the opportunity to be patient if they don’t get offers they like this week. Fischer points to Atlanta and Dejounte Murray as one example, suggesting the Hawks could be in a better position this offseason to land the type of first-round compensation they’re seeking for Murray, since more teams will be able to move more picks at that time. The Lakers, for instance, could move up to three future first-rounders this summer, but can only trade one this week.

The more punitive restrictions facing tax apron teams after the end of this season has also made certain clubs hesitant to take on sizable long-term contracts or to trade for a third player on a maximum-salary deal, especially if that player isn’t an All-NBA caliber talent, per Tim Bontemps and Marks at That’s one reason why interest in Bulls guard Zach LaVine was so tepid even before the team announced he’d be undergoing season-ending foot surgery.

With over 48 hours to go until Thursday’s 2 pm CT deadline, there’s still time for the trade market to roar to life, but it certainly doesn’t sound like we should expect a repeat of 2023’s deadline, when stars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving changed teams.

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