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Do NBA Players Have a Choice in Trades?

Trades in basketball are inherent to the NBA. Without them, it is difficult to think of any NBA team. Franchises progress adding new players that frequently turn out to be pivotal for success.

Do NBA players have a choice when traded? If there is a no-trade clause activated in the contract of an NBA player, then the latter has the right to reject the request for being traded to another team. Otherwise, there are no possibilities of turning down a trade. 

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When we talk about elite players, most likely they will have such a term in their contracts. In this article, we will further talk about how trades are executed and when players can turn down offers from other teams.

What Does No-Trade Clause Mean?

No-trade clause is a rare occurrence that is activated for players, who have 8 or more years of experience playing in the NBA and 4 years in one team. That means a player should be at a veteran level to be considered for a no-trade clause. Such a deal is rarely included in contracts and it has been activated several times. Basically, players can veto their trades, when there is a no-trade clause meaning that even if teams are willing to sell them, athletes will be able to stay in their respective clubs. 

Examples of No-Trade Clause

There have been several cases when a no-trade clause was activated in the NBA. We will have a look at some of them, when players decided to remain in a team.

Carmelo Anthony

When Melo was playing for the Knicks in his contract, there was a condition of a no-trade clause. And when the time came he decided to activate this clause. Perhaps a hefty contract was one of the main reasons why he went for this move. Phil Jackson extended his contract and included this term in the deal. Eventually Carmelo Anthony still moved to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but things were pretty complicated prior to the transfer.

LeBron James

A friend of Carmelo Anthony and now teammates, one of the greatest players of all time, LeBron James was also eligible for activating a no-trade clause when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However the situation was not as complicated as we have seen above in the case of Melo.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett is considered one of the greatest power forwards in the history of the NBA. It was a no-trade clause that enabled him to be transferred to the Boston Celtics back in 2007 and then to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013. In 2015 he returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves with his consent.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki is one of the rare players that spent his entire career playing for only one team and that is the Dallas Mavericks. For all the work he has done for the team, in the last years of his career, a contract worth $50 million dollars for 2 years was activated alongside a no-trade clause. Mark Cuban, the wonder of the Mavericks, perhaps wanted the German player to retire for his team and Nowitzki did the following. 

Why Players Might Oppose the Trades?

While some players might have a limited choice when they are traded to different teams there are several reasons why they might be opposed to switching teams. We will review some of them below.


Some players, especially when we are talking about stars, have hefty contracts with their teams meaning they do not want to “lose” a team for new ones. Salary plays a major role of course and with new teams, such contributions could be diminished. Because of that, they go on to stay for their old teams to maintain the previous salary.

Tough Situation

A tumultuous situation in new teams is another reason why players might opt for turning down a deal. Sometimes the situation in new teams could be so turbulent that it could affect the overall career of a player. When they are used to playing for old teams, new challenges could harm their careers. 

Deals that Players Rejected

We were talking about situations where players turned down offers purely for subjective reasons. However, there have been cases where athletes declined big contracts from their teams and ended up regretting it, thinking they would earn more during free agency. We will have a look at some of them.

Latrell Sprewell

Latrell Sprewell was a prominent figure alongside Kevin Garnett in the Minnesota Timberwolves. As his performance was very good, the team actually decided to grant him a contract worth $21 million for 3 years. However, Sprewell rejected the deal, saying it was not enough to secure his family. He did not manage to sign another contract after the 2004-05 season and his career came to an end.

Shabazz Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad was considered one of the best prospects when he came to the NBA. He had a powerful season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and due to his performance, the team offered him a $40 million contract over 4 years. Muhammad declined because the reason he would earn more during the free agency. However, he was not able to find a suitable option for him and when he returned to the Timberwolves once again, the club only offered him a minimum contract. Even though he accepted the offer, he was not a part of a starting line-up and eventually he left the team and the NBA afterwards. 

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