NBA Trade Rules

The NBA Trade Deadline is always on the 20th of February.  Players who are on an active roster may be traded if they are not injured by the date of the trade deadline.

Salaries cannot be combined with trading draft picks, teams cannot combine more than three million dollars in cash and players to acquire one player or six million total, and compensation for all outgoing players is based on their salary unless there are some exceptions.

The NBA Trade Rules do not apply to trades with players and draft picks.  They only apply to the inclusion of Cash and Players in a trade.  

How do trades work in the NBA

In the NBA, teams usually trade players in order to get a player that can help them win now.  The team that is receiving the player(s) is usually giving up a lot, such as draft picks or other players on their team.  

The NBA Trade Rules state that teams cannot combine more than $3 million worth of cash and player contracts to acquire a single player or $6 million overall.

This means that teams are limited as to how much they can offer another team in a trade.  For example, if Team A wants to trade Player A to Team B for Player B, Team A can only offer Team B $3 million worth of cash and player contracts.

Cash can be used to pay the salary of a player, so if Team A wants to trade Player A for $4 million worth of cash to Team B, it is acceptable.  

However, this is not advisable because if Team B were to waive Player A right after they acquired them, Team A would be left with $4 million dollars cash that they cannot use on another player.

Do players have to be traded together or can they be traded separately?

Players can be traded together or separately. The team that is trading the player(s) will usually offer some of their players to the opposite team in order to acquire more talent.  

This is because some teams have certain types of players that are on their current roster, so they trade for a player with a different type of skill set.

How are trades determined?

Trades are determined on what one team would like to get in return for an outgoing player.  Let’s say Team A wants Player B.  

They can either offer Player A and some cash or nothing at all, if they would like to get Player B without having anything taken from them in return.

Can a player refuse a trade from happening?

Yes, a player can refuse a trade from happening. There have been cases where players have refused to be traded to a certain team because they do not want to leave their current team or they do not think the trade is fair.

However, a player cannot refuse a trade from happening if they are not under contract. If the contract has expired and the player is still playing for that team, then there is no way to make them leave or play for another team.

Why would a team want to make a trade happen?

When a team trades, it usually happens because the team is looking to find a way to win now. One example of this would be when an NBA team trades for LeBron James. He can take them all the way to the championship.

What does waived mean in NBA?

Waived means that the team has decided to release the player and they are no longer part of the team. There are a few ways in which a player can be waived.

The most common way is when a player is waived before the start of the season. This means that the team has decided not to keep the player on their roster for the upcoming season.

Another way a player can be waived is when they are injured and cannot play for the team anymore. The team would then waive them and they would no longer be able to play for any other NBA team.

When a player is waived, the team that they are being waived to must give them a certain amount of time to decide whether or not they want to be with the team.

If another team does not have any free roster spots available, then the player will continue playing for their original NBA team.


The NBA Trade Rules are in place to help maintain fairness and competitive balance among the teams.

They dictate how much a team can offer another, what happens when players refuse trades, and how player contracts work with trading. In general, the rules exist to decrease the likelihood that one (or more) elite teams will dominate for too long without any competition or challenge.

These rules can be tweaked, but the NBA is largely unwilling to change them. The league wants superstars and good teams in order to boost television ratings and ticket sales.

Even when a team is “trading” away a superstar nearing the end of his career for multiple role players or picks, they are keeping competitive balance in mind.

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