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How NBA Trades Work – The Other Side of the Court is

  • NBA trade system is much more complicated than you think
  • What exactly is the salary cap?
  • Players don’t actually have a say in the trade process
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A detailed explanation of how NBA trades work. Image source: Chris Green (Chrisg21090 at en.wikipedia) [Public domain]

The NBA trade deadline is approaching in only two weeks. With this happening, you might be wanting to get a more clear idea about how NBA trade works. Probably most of the fans have experienced the trading processes by now. Either through fantasy leagues or other kinds of video games, the fans are getting a chance to dive deeper into the backstage of their favorite game. Since they had the chance to play the manager for a while now, the majority of the onlookers have a pretty good idea about the trading process.

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However, even the players who have been in the league for decades don’t fully understand how NBA trades work. The other side of the court is definitely a lot to process. It’s more math, financial planning, and analyzing the statistics than one would think. 

Salary caps: A way to keep the fair competition of the teams

Unlike soccer or MLB where you can just offer any amount of money to a star player if you want them on your team, there’s a salary cap in NBA trades. NBA officials have created this to protect the teams from just buying the championships. Imagine what would happen if the Lakers can spend three or four times as much as the Celtics can spend. There would certainly be no competition to watch. They would just offer the best players the most beneficial deals and get an all-star team. That way, the Lakers vs Clipper rivalry would be way more boring.

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To avoid this from happening, every year the officials set a salary cap on NBA trades based on the BRI or a basketball-related income. This amount is different each year based on the revenue from the tickets, merchandise revenue and basically any other income related to the game. Thanks to the growing interest of the media and an expanding number of fans the salary cap is increasing each year. Online sportsbooks in the USA have announced that the salary cap has reached 109.140 million dollars in the 2019-2020 season. 

So the salary cap exists, but does it really work?

Even with the salary cap, the Golden State Warriors in the 2017-2018 season has managed to build a super team. Almost all of the starting players were all-stars including Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant. With no surprise, they have swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals by 4-1. That was their third championship in the last four years. What’s more, is that it was the fourth time Cavaliers and Warriors were representing their conferences in the finals.  By that time, almost every fan must have been sick of the season games since it was obvious who was going to be in the finals. NBA odds at Bovada Sportsbook were all pointing towards the same direction.

This has happened because the NBA has a soft-cap policy. The cap system is more like a rough guideline about the team’s spending. Just consider the fact that only 9 out of the 30 franchises have spent under the cap in the previous season. There are several ways a team can get its way around this financial ceiling. One of the most obvious ways is to pay the luxury tax. Now I know that you just want to have an idea about how these NBA drafts work, so I won’t get into the math.

Watch out for the salary cap!

If you want to create a super team that rules 2020 NBA winner odds, but don’t have that space on your salary cap, you need to pay more than just the players’ salary. Warriors have paid around 32 million dollars on luxury tax last season, and Cavaliers have paid around 20 million. If the team keeps exceeding the salary cap, the amount of the tax on each dollar exceeds the cap increases.

There is no salary caps on your betting accounts!

NBA trading rights that benefit all- both the player and the team

Another way is the Bird rights, named after a player Larry Bird. In 1983 CBA or collective bargaining agent of the NBA called for the first salary cap. This was the same year Larry Bird’s contract ended with the Boston Celtics. He then signed a seven-year contract with his current team, which was more than the team’s spending on players. The CBA has agreed that if the player has played under the same team for three years the contract of that player can exceed the cap. Three years can be either consecutively or separately.

If a free agent has been playing under one team for three years and the team trades him, his Bird rights go with him to the next team. Also if a free agent has already signed for the same team for two years and signs for the third year, he gets a no-trade deal in his contract. This would protect him from losing his Bird rights and help in his future earnings. It’s common that the players don’t have a clear idea about how NBA trades work. That’s why it’s important that there are rules to protect the players.

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I want someone to look at me the way Curry looks at his salary. Source: Noah Salzman [CC BY-SA] / Wikimedia Commons

The case of Stephen Curry

Steph Curry is one of the great examples of how this right can greatly benefit the player. When his contract with Golden State Warriors ended in 2017, he renewed his contract with the same team. If he has not exercised his Bird rights, the best he could’ve gotten with the different team is around 160 million for four years. However, with this right, he has gotten a five-year deal with a maximum salary with an average 8 percent increase each year. This has resulted in him getting a 201 million dollars deal for a five-year contract.

How do NBA draft pick trades work

Now that we’ve gotten an idea about the system at large, let’s see how trade works in the NBA. As we’ve mentioned before, the way the US basketball trading system works is quite different from soccer or football. There are three main ways a team can acquire a new player. The first is by drafting a player who is at least one year out of high school. 

There are 450 active NBA players and they draft 60 more annually. Once the regular season is over, 16 teams will advance to the playoffs. Which team will go to the playoffs will be decided based on their records during the season. The other 14 teams would play a lottery to choose the order of their draft choices. Once they have gotten the pick, they would either hold it to use it on the drafting day. Most of the time a team would trade it with another team for a player or other benefits.

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LeBron was once just a high school kid who got picked. Source: US Air Force

What happens if several teams want the same player?

The teams choose promising players from either their university or national team. Once it’s clear that they would be in the drafting process, they start their draft training. If more than one team is interested in one player, the draftee will have the right to choose. He will have a chance to practice with the team and see if the team suits him or not. Most of the time, his agent would give him a trading system guide to help him make the best choice.

How does the NBA trade work?

Once a player signs with a team, he becomes the team’s asset. If a team wants to get a new player from another team, they have to match the value of him. That’s why you might’ve been confused when the Lakers gave almost half their team away for one player. A team can offer players, draft choices, money and even coaches to match the value of the player they want.

The trading season starts on July 1st and ends somewhere around the beginning of February. For this year’s trade, it’s on February 7th. Post-deadline trades are not allowed in order to provide competitive fairness to the teams. This year’s trade is going to be quite different since the teams’ are playing pretty similarly. Only a few teams have secured their places in the playoffs by now. So it would certainly be no surprise if some of the major deals happen on the deadline date. That makes it pretty interesting for online gambling sites in the USA.

Do players have a say on the NBA trades?

Most of the time, players would not get a say if the team has traded him to another team. The managers would try to get as little emotion in the way of the trading process as possible. That’s why sometimes the team’s trading choice would upset a player. Take Derrick Rose for an example. First draft choice in his year, he was the star player with a promising future. Some might say that he invented the rookie rights. This right allows a rookie player to get 25% of the overall salary cap when the expected minimum is 20 percent.

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We all know someone who was going to be the GOAT if it weren’t for those stupid injuries… Source: Wikipedia

Injuries ruin careers

However, when he was injured several times and missed 256 games, his team has decided to trade him. The teams started rejecting him. This must have been hard for a player who has won both Rookie of the year and MVP in just the first 3 seasons of his career. He has not hidden his disappointment and told the press that he has always wanted to play in his home city. Even though there are few exceptions in the NBA trades history, it’s unlikely that the player can refuse to be traded without a no-trade clause in his contract. It would hurt his reputation and lower his market value. So almost all of the time, if the player understands how the NBA trade works, he would just agree to the teams’ decision.

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