For NBA teams lacking the cap room to make impact additions to their roster this offseason, traded player exceptions represent one tool available to accommodate that sort of acquisition.
As we explain in our glossary entry, traded player exceptions are created when a team trades away a single player without immediately taking salary back in return. The club then has up to one year in which it can acquire one or more players whose combined salaries amount to no more than the traded player’s salary (plus $100K).
That means sizable traded player exceptions created during the 2017 offseason are on track to expire in the coming weeks or months, so teams will have to use them or lose them during the 2018 offseason. Trade exceptions generated during the 2017/18 regular season prior to the February deadline will be available through the offseason and into the 2018/19 season.
The full list of available traded player exceptions can be found right here, but here are a few notable TPEs worth keeping an eye on during the coming offseason:
Portland Trail Blazers
Value of traded player exception: $12,969,502
Expiry date: 7/25/18
Created when they traded Allen Crabbe to the Nets.
The Trail Blazers already have more than $110MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for 2018/19, and that figure doesn’t include a potential new contract for Jusuf Nurkic. So unless they’re able to significantly cut costs elsewhere, it may not be realistic for the Blazers to use their $13MM trade exception to take on another sizable contract.
Still, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey talked earlier this offseason about feeling as if Portland has been too “protective” of some of its assets, including its trade exception. So it sounds like he’ll explore possible uses for it, even if the club ends up not finding a viable deal.
Value of traded player exception: $12,500,000
Expiry date: 2/1/19
Created when they traded Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans.
The Bulls have been in an odd spot from a cap perspective for the last year, having carried a variety of exceptions that technically made them an over-the-cap team even though their players salaries have never exceeded $99MM. Chicago will have another opportunity to dip below the cap this offseason, and it seems likely that the club will do so, which would mean forfeiting this exception.
Value of traded player exception: $11,800,000
Expiry date: 7/13/18
Created when they traded DeMarre Carroll to the Nets.
The Raptors, who also have a $6,125,440 exception left over from last July’s Cory Joseph deal, are in a similar spot to the Blazers. While their TPEs are good tools to improve the roster in theory, the Raptors have a potential luxury-tax bill to worry about. As such, adding salary without sending out any in return probably isn’t practical for Toronto, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these exceptions expire.
It’s worth noting that are ways for the Raptors – and other teams on this list – to roll over at least one significant TPE for another year. For instance, let’s say Toronto dealt a player like Norman Powell for someone making about $10-11MM in 2018/19. In that scenario, the Raps could acquire the incoming player with the Carroll TPE and create a new exception worth Powell’s salary.
Los Angeles Clippers
Value of traded player exception: $7,273,631
Expiry date: 6/28/18
Created when they traded Chris Paul to the Rockets.
The Clippers have less than two weeks to use this exception, created in last June’s CP3 blockbuster. This limits their options, since many deals won’t be made until the new league year begins in July. I think this exception is a good bet to go unused.
Value of traded player exception: $7,000,000
Expiry date: 1/29/19
Created when they traded Boban Marjanovic to the Clippers.
With nearly $112MM in guaranteed money on their 2018/19 cap, the Pistons have a little more flexibility than teams like the Blazers and Raptors, but not by much. For instance, Detroit likely wouldn’t be able to use its full mid-level exception and acquire a $7MM player using this TPE. However, if the Pistons can’t find a player they like on the free agent market worth a mid-level investment, this exception could provide an alternate path to adding a bench piece.
Value of traded player exception: $5,811,114
Expiry date: 8/22/18
Created when they traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.
There are a ton of moving pieces in play for the Cavaliers‘ offseason, so this modest exception will get overlooked. Still, it could be a useful tool to try to acquire help for LeBron James if he stays — or to help accommodate some roster reshuffling if he departs.