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Can NBA contracts be voided?

NBA contracts can be voided or terminated. NBA contracts are controlled by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the NBA’s Uniform Player Contract that flows from it. Article vi (6) of the CBA deals with ‘Player Conduct’ and section 16 of the Uniform Player Contract deals with ‘Termination’. These sections lay out the standards expected of an NBA player under contract and what recourse a team would have to void or terminate their contract if they breach them.

Both the CBA and the Uniform Player Contract are dense legal documents that are worded to cover a lot of bases, either specifically, or broadly depending on the requirement. We have dug in below to highlight some of the likely scenarios where an NBA player could find themselves facing contract termination.

Before we dive in we have linked to the full and most uptodate NBA CBA effective as of July 2023 here. The Uniform Player Contract can be found within the appendix of the CBA linked above.

Can an NBA player’s contract be terminated or voided?

 We have included the fill text from section 16 of the NBA Uniform Player Contract. This text will be included in every single NBA player’s contract. This section deals with termination and lays out the main reasons an NBA team may have to look to void or terminate a player contract early.

NBA Uniform Player Contract


(a) The Team may terminate this Contract upon written notice to the Player if the Player shall:

(i) at any time, fail, refuse, or neglect to conform his personal conduct to standards of good citizenship, good moral character (defined here to mean not engaging in acts of moral turpitude, whether or not such acts would constitute a crime), and good sportsmanship, to keep himself in first class physical condition, or to obey the Team’s training rules;

(ii) at any time commit a significant and inexcusable physical attack against any official or employee of the Team or the NBA (other than another player), or any person in attendance at any NBA game or event, considering the totality of the circumstances, including (but not limited to) the degree of provocation (if any) that may have led to the attack, the nature and scope of the attack, the Player’s state of mind at the time of the attack, and the extent of any injury resulting from the attack;

(iii) at any time, fail, in the sole opinion of the Team’s management, to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability to qualify to continue as a member of the Team; provided, however, (A) that if this Contract is terminated by the Team, in accordance with the provisions of this subparagraph, prior to January 10 of any Season, and the Player, at the time of such termination, is unfit to play skilled basketball as the result of an injury resulting directly from his playing for the Team, the Player shall (subject to the provisions set forth in Exhibit 3) continue to receive his full Base Compensation), less all workers’ compensation benefits (which, to the extent permitted by law, and if not deducted from the Player’s Compensation by the Team, the Player hereby assigns to the Team) and any insurance provided for by the Team paid or payable to the Player by reason of said injury, until such time as the Player is fit to play skilled basketball, but not beyond the Season during which such termination occurred; and provided, further, (B) that if this Contract is terminated by Exhibit A A-19 the Team, in accordance with the provisions of this subparagraph, during the period from the January 10 of any Season through the end of such Season, the Player shall be entitled to receive his full Base Compensation for said Season; or

(iv) at any time, fail, refuse, or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any other manner materially breach this Contract.

If we look at each of the 4 sub sections one by one.

i) This section deals with the basics. Representing themself in a way that doesn’t draw negative attention to the franchise or the NBA, keeping themself in the required physical shape to play NBA basketball and following team training practices and rules.

ii) This section deals with violence against other members of the NBA community.

iii) This section is more complicated. It states at any time, fail… to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability to qualify to continue as a member of the Team. However, this is not as straightforward as it is written here. It ties into several other sections of the CBA which enforce the guaranteed aspect of the players contract. The team would have to prove that the players loss of ability to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability was caused by the players inattention to his contractual obligations. Such as receiving an injury, taking part in unsanctioned activity or repeatedly failing to follow team training guidelines.

iv) This final subsection lays out a general clause that if the player at any time, fails, refuses, or neglects to render his services hereunder or in any other manner materially breach this Contract. Again this is an activation clause that is fueled by several other sections of the CBA and not a reason for termination on its own. For example, if a player was deemed to be withholding services the team would have to meet the criteria laid out in the CBA’s Article 11 Section 3. You can learn more about players withholding services by reading our article here.

What player conduct can lead to an NBA contract being terminated?

As an overview we have pulled the list of subsections covered by the NBA’s CBA Article iv (6) which covers ‘Player Conduct’.

6.1 Games.

6.2 Practices.

6.3 Promotional Appearances.

6.4 Mandatory Programs.

6.5 Media Training, Business of Basketball, Anti-Gambling Training, and System Rules Training.

6.6 Charitable Contributions.

6.7 Unlawful Violence.

6.8 Counseling for Violent Misconduct.

6.9 Firearms and Other Weapons.

6.10 One Penalty.

6.11 League Investigations.

6.12 On-Court Conduct.

6.13 Off-Court Conduct.

6.14 Motor Vehicles.

6.15 Player Convictions and Other Discipline Involving Alcohol or Controlled Substances.

6.16 Player Arrests.

6.17 Joint NBA/NBPA Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse.

6.18 Trades.

6.19 Player Involvement with Gaming Companies.

6.20 Player Involvement with Cannabis Companies.

6.21 Gambling by Former NBAGL

This list includes sections such a Gameswhich lays out basic conduct expected of players at NBA games. It also includes sections such as “Firearms and other weapons” which NBA players are much less likely to fall foul of and if they do, the consequences would be more severe, such as the potential termination of their contract with the NBA.

6.7 Unlawful Violence.

The stated punishment for this infringement is contained within the subsection itself,

“When a player is convicted of (including by a plea of guilty, no contest, or nolo contendere to) a violent felony, he shall immediately be suspended by the NBA for a minimum of ten (10) games.”

However in more serious cases the punishment could far exceed a 10 game ban and potentially lead to the players contract being terminated.

6.9 Firearms and Other Weapons.

There has been recent history with this one. Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies has recently seen his team and the NBA itself take action against his behavior regarding firearms. Morant received a 25 game ban for conduct detrimental to the league. The sub-section itself prohibits NBA players possessing firearms at any NBA related location, including when traveling to any NBA-related business. It also requires players who legally own firearms to provide proof of this to the league ahead of each NBA season starting.

6.15 Player Convictions and Other Discipline Involving Alcohol or Controlled Substances.

In addition to any other discipline imposed by the NBA for such conduct, any player who is convicted of (including by a plea of guilty, no contest, or nolo contendere to) driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, driving under the influence of a controlled substance (if that controlled substance is not a Prohibited Substance) or any similar crime shall be required to submit to a mandatory evaluation by the Medical Director of the Anti-Drug Program. After that mandatory evaluation, the Medical Director may require the player to attend up to ten (10) substance abuse counseling sessions.

No player shall use any Marijuana Product (defined below) while he is physically present at a facility or venue owned, operated, or being used by a Team, the NBA, or any Team- or League-related entity. Any violation of this Section 15(b) shall subject the player to discipline as is reasonable under the circumstances. With respect to discipline imposed by the NBA and/or the Team, the One Penalty rule set forth in Article VI, Section 10 of this Agreement shall apply.

It is unlikely that any single incident involving alcohol or controlled substances alone would lead to the player’s contract being terminated. The NBA has provisions for support and counseling among other measures aimed at helping the players recovery and rehabilitation. If repeated breaking of these rules is proven, the player may find themselves facing contract termination.

6.16 Player Arrests.

This section is based heavily on the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ basis of all good legal systems. The wording specifically is worth including:

A Team shall not impose discipline on a player solely on the basis of the fact that the player has been arrested. Notwithstanding the foregoing, (a) a Team may impose discipline on a player for the conduct underlying the player’s arrest if it has an independent basis for doing so, (b) nothing herein shall permit a Team to discipline a player for his failure to cooperate with a Team’s investigation of his alleged misconduct if he has a reasonable apprehension of criminal prosecution, and (c) nothing herein shall prevent a Team from precluding a player from participating in Team activities without loss of pay to the extent it otherwise has the right to do so.

In essence a team cannot take action solely on the basis of a player being arrested. However if it has reason to do so, it could sanction the player for the conduct that led to the arrest. A player doesn’t have to cooperate with a team or league investigation if they feel it may prejudice any criminal investigation. This is common practice to wait until any legal proceedings are concluded before starting an investigation. The team also has the right to exclude the player from team activities as long as they do not withhold the player’s pay in any way. Again, a standard practice to suspend an employee on full pay until facts are clear.

6.17 Joint NBA/NBPA Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse.

This is another subsection that has sadly had some light of day in recent times within the NBA. Miles Bridges was handed a 30-game suspension as a result of a 2022 domestic violence incident involving the mother of his children.

The rules Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse. governing this are covered by Exhibit F of the CBA. It is a focus by the NBA and the NBPA to recognise the complexity of these issues and have appropriate measures in place to protect all parties involved.

While the policy is focused on rehabbing and working to find a healthy solution. Exhibit F explicitly states that in some circumstances termination of a players contract could be the right option.

Based on a finding of just cause, the Commissioner may fine, suspend,

or dismiss and disqualify from any further association with the NBA and its

teams a player who engages in prohibited conduct in violation of this Policy.

Repeat offenders will be subject to enhanced discipline.


NBA players are forbidden to wager on the outcome of any NBA games or activity. This is covered by Article 35(f) of the NBA Constitution.

Dangerous Activities

There is a long list of stated activities that an NBA player would be in breach of contract if they took part in.

Participation in activities prohibited by Paragraph 12 of the Contract (as such Paragraph may be modified by Exhibit 5), which includes, among other things, engaging in any activity that a reasonable person would recognize as involving or exposing the participant to a

substantial risk of bodily injury including, but not limited to;

  • Sky-diving
  • hang gliding
  • snow skiing
  • rock or mountain climbing
  • water or jet skiing
  • whitewater rafting,
  • Rappelling
  • bungee jumping
  • trampoline jumping
  • Mountain Biking
  • Fighting, boxing, or wrestling
  • using fireworks
  • participating in any activity involving firearms or other weapons
  • riding on electric scooters or hoverboards
  • driving or riding on a motorcycle or moped
  • driving or riding on a four-wheeling/off-roading of any kind
  • riding in or on any motorized vehicle in any kind of race
  • operating an aircraft of any kind
  • engaging in any other activity excluded or prohibited by or
  • under any insurance policy which the Team procures
  • participating in any game or exhibition of basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or other team sport or competition without the advanced written permission of their team.

Sustaining an injury that threatens a players on court performance while doing any of these activities could very well lead to the players contract being voided.