Front-Office Insider: Breaking down trade restrictions

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, analyzes trade restrictions and their effect on the league.

The date when 125 free agents signed this summer are eligible to be traded is Dec. 15, but don’t expect a flurry of trades once the restriction is lifted.

Though the flexibility of making a trade now increases, teams in the past have been reluctant to change their roster once the free-agent restriction date is lifted.

Since 2012, only four trades have occurred after Dec. 15.

Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas in 2014 in what was deemed a blockbuster at the time, Corey Brewer was traded to Houston and Anthony Tolliver was sent to Detroit in 2014, and the 76ers acquired Ish Smith last Christmas Eve.

There are several factors why teams are reluctant to change their roster just six weeks into the season.

They are still in the evaluation period and are not ready to make significant changes.

Also, a trade that could be on the table soon after Dec. 15 would likely be available in mid-January or near the trade deadline Feb. 23.

And teams such as the Nets and Mavericks, who could be sellers in February, will only see the value of their players increase as the deadline nears.

While the majority of players signed this summer are now free to be traded, there are still more than 50 players who have some type of trade restriction. There are also 28 additional players who were traded within the last year who cannot be acquired by the team for which they last played.

Here is a look at the restrictions that are still in place.

Jan. 15 restriction
This applies to a player who signed as a free agent using the Bird or early Bird exception and received a raise greater then 20 percent of their previous contract.

There are 21 players who have this trade restriction, including the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan.

DeMar DeRozan cannot be traded until Jan. 15. (AP)
DeMar DeRozan cannot be traded until Jan. 15. (AP)

Post-Sept. 15 signing
The general rule of thumb is that free agents signed in the summer cannot be traded for three months from the signing date or Dec. 15 – and in some cases Jan. 15.

For the 11 players signed after Sept. 15, each has a different date for when they would be eligible to be traded.

In the case of Metta World Peace, the Lakers’ veteran cannot be traded until Dec. 23 because he signed his contract Sept. 23.

Renegotiation restriction
Russell Westbrook and James Harden, two early season MVP candidates who renegotiated their contracts this summer, are not eligible to be traded for six months from the date of their signings.

No-trade clause
Though rare, players who have played eight years in the NBA and with their current team for at least four years are eligible to negotiate a no-trade clause contract in their contracts.

The Cavaliers’ LeBron James, the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki are the only players with no-trade clauses.

For James, the seven years he played in Cleveland before he signed with Miami for the 2010-11 season are credited to his second stint with the Cavs.

The no-trade clause does carry over to a new team if a player consents to a trade.

One-year Bird restriction
Players who signed one-year contracts and will have early Bird or Bird rights at the end of the season cannot be traded without permission.

If Warriors guard Ian Clark, for example, were to consent to a trade, his early Bird rights for next summer would be eliminated and his new team would only be allowed to use cap space or an exception to sign Clark.

The Clippers’ Luc Mbah a Moute, who signed a two-year contract, also would qualify for this restriction.

Because Mbah a Moute has a player option for the second year, the NBA treats the contract like a one-year deal.

There are currently 15 players who have the one-year Bird restriction.

Matched offer-sheet restriction
Portland’s Allen Crabbe and Miami’s Tyler Johnson signed offer sheets this summer with the Brooklyn Nets. Because their teams matched the offer sheets, they cannot be traded without their consent for one year from the date when their contracts were signed.

Crabbe and Johnson also cannot be traded to Brooklyn until after July 10.

‘Poison pill’ restriction
The “poison pill” restriction impacts eight players and teams that agreed to rookie-scale extensions before Oct. 31.

Because each player is still operating under his rookie-scale contract – the new contract doesn’t start until next season – the NBA takes the average of all the years in both contracts when determining the trade value of a player.

While there is no date restriction and the player does not have to consent to a deal, there are trade limitations.

For example, the Trail Blazers’ C.J. McCollum has a current contract worth $3.2 million, and the Trail Blazers are allowed to receive only $4.9 million (150 percent plus $100,000) of incoming salaries in a trade.

The acquiring team, for cap purposes, must have $21.8 million (average salary of current contract and rookie extension plus $100,000) to send to Portland.

Carmelo Anthony has a 15 percent trade bonus in his contract. (AP)
Carmelo Anthony has a 15 percent trade bonus in his contract. (AP)

Trade bonus
Like the “poison pill” restriction, players who have trade bonuses negotiated into their contracts will see the value of the contracts change if they’re traded.

Carmelo Anthony has a 15 percent trade bonus in his contract.

If Anthony were traded Dec. 15, New York would owe the All-Star $10.7 million with the acquiring team taking on an additional $5.35 million and a $5.35 million cap hit over the next two seasons.

The 15 percent pertains to the amount remaining on Anthony’s current contract.


Jan. 31: Ryan Kelly
One-year Bird: Kris Humphries
Poison pill: Dennis Schroder

Jan. 15: Tyler Zeller
Trade bonus: Al Horford
Insider info: The trade bonus for Horford is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary.

March 8: Spender Dinwiddie
Trade bonuses: Bojan Bogdanovic and Jeremy Lin

Jan. 15: Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams
Poison pill: Cody Zeller

Jan. 27: R.J. Hunter
Trade bonus: Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic

Jan. 15: LeBron James and J.R. Smith
No-trade: James
One-year Bird: James Jones
Trade bonus: James and Kyrie Irving
Insider info: The current trade bonus for James is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary.

Jan. 15: Dirk Nowitzki
Feb. 17: Jonathan Gibson
No-trade: Nowitzki
One-year Bird: Deron Williams
Trade bonus: Harrison Barnes
Insider info: The current trade bonus for Barnes is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary.

Feb. 16: Alonzo Gee
Trade bonus: Danilo Gallinari

Jan. 15: Andre Drummond
One-year Bird: Beno Udrih
Trade bonus: Drummond
Insider info: The current trade bonus for Drummond is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary.

Golden State
One-year Bird: James Michael-McAdoo, Anderson Varejao, Ian Clark
Trade Bonus: Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala
Insider info: The trade bonus for Durant is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary. Because the Warriors owe a first-round pick to Utah this year, Golden State cannot trade a first until 2019.

Dec. 23: Kyle Wiltjer
Jan. 9: James Harden
Trade bonus: Harden
Insider info: The trade bonus for Harden is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary.


L.A. Clippers
Jan. 15: Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford
One-year Bird: Luc Mbah a Moute
Trade bonuses: Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick

L.A. Lakers
Dec. 21: Thomas Robinson
Dec. 23: Metta World Peace
Jan. 15: Tarik Black
One-year Bird: World Peace
Trade bonus: Black

Jan. 15: Mike Conley Jr.
Trade bonus: Vince Carter, Marc Gasol, Brandan Wright

Jan. 15: Tyler Johnson
Matched offer sheet: Johnson
One-year Bird: Udonis Haslem
Trade bonuses: Johnson and Dion Waiters

Jan. 15: Miles Plumlee
One-year Bird: Steve Novak
Poison pill: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Poison pill: Gorgui Dieng

New Orleans
March 10: Reggie Williams
Trade bonuses: Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans
Insider info: The trade bonus for Davis is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary.

New York
Jan. 15: Lance Thomas
One-year Bird: Sasha Vujacic
No-trade: Carmelo Anthony
Trade bonus: Anthony

Oklahoma City
Feb. 4: Russell Westbrook
Poison pill: Victor Oladipo
Trade bonuses: Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter
Insider info: The trade bonus for Westbrook is voided because the salary and bonus would exceed the maximum salary.

Jan. 15: Evan Fournier



Jan. 15: Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless
Matched offer sheet: Crabbe
Trade bonus: Crabbe


San Antonio
Dec. 26: Nicolas Laprovittola
Jan. 15: Manu Ginobili
One-year Bird: Manu Ginobili
Trade bonuses: LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee, Kawhi Leonard

Jan. 15: DeMar DeRozan

Poison pill: Rudy Gobert
Trade bonus: Gordon Hayward

Jan. 15: Bradley Beal
One-year Bird: Marcus Thornton

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