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What Happens When an NBA Player Gets Traded?

We have all heard the mantra that the NBA is first and foremost an entertainment business. One stark business side of the league is when players get traded to other teams so that their former franchise can improve and get better. It happens every single season. However, most people don’t really consider what actually happens when an NBA player gets traded.

What Happens When an NBA Player Gets Traded? When an NBA player gets traded, he gets a call from his agent or a member of the teams front office staff. The player is informed where he will be sent and has to travel down to that new city and establish a life there. He may also have to complete a physical examination in order for the deal to finalize. In most cases the player doesn’t get any input or prior warning as to the trade happening.

It’s incredibly difficult for the players who get traded because they are often forced to leave their entire lives behind in order to go into the new place. Many will have children in schools and have to decide whether to uproot them as well. New cities are tough to go to, especially after getting comfortable in your own life. Not to mention what happens when a player is traded to or from the Toronto Raptors, because a whole different country isn’t easy to get accustomed to, even if it is only Canada!

What’s It Like Before Getting Traded

The moments in between getting traded and not receiving the call from your agent can be very confusing and troubling for NBA players. A lot of players have shared their own personal experiences over the years. A lot of times these players are just following their usual routine, whether it’s taking a trip with the team or practicing in the gym. Then, out of nowhere they receive the call and are informed of the decision. For other players, they look on social media and suddenly see that they are traded before any official details even emerge. Players have talked about being woken up from a nap in the middle of the day with their phone blowing up from Twitter mentions and other texts. Immediately knowing there must be some substance to it but having no idea they had been officially traded until it was confirmed with them later on. Below former All-Star Jalen Rose talks about what it is like to be facing a trade in the NBA.

Changing Cities

We briefly spoke about this earlier but changing cities is probably the hardest part about getting traded as an NBA player. Tyson Chandler was asked about getting traded a few years ago, and he had a solid response. Saying, “I think people don’t realize how difficult it is, especially with the families, moving in the middle of the season.” He continued by talking about how the on-court stuff always seems to work itself out but the off-court routines really get thrown out of whack. Some players only get about one day to pack up their things and get out of the town, and if any of you have moved for unexpected reasons, you understand how little notice being traded in the NBA can be. Some players have talked about their experiences and mentioned that they had to practically live out of a suitcase while their stuff shipped over. Also, we can’t forget about those guys that get traded to Toronto. They have to somehow get all of their stuff over to a different country in a very short span while still focusing on basketball and getting acclimated to their new teammates and often a new climate. As Chandler said, families drastically change this experience. You never want to get up and leave a city when you have young kids in school with new friends. Getting traded and making this whole move could influence their lives just as much as your own. It’s a difficult situation to be involved in, no matter how good you are on the court.

Does Their Mindset Change After Getting Traded?

For most players, their mentality does change a little bit after getting traded. Guys want to be involved on a team and have an opportunity to contribute to their organization. Sometimes, when a player gets traded, they have a greater chance at performing better. This could motivate some players when going from a bad team to a championship contender. While simultaneously crushing other guys who are on an undefeated team before getting traded to a franchise with a season record of 2-24. You have to understand your new teammates and realize that the coaching is very different as well. The mentality really does change for every player, especially for the role players. Ed Davis said it best, talking about how role players are so interchangeable that it’s hard to have confidence in yourself and find a role on a new team after getting traded.

Can Players refuse Being Traded?

There isn’t currently a single player in the NBA that has a strict no-trade clause in their contract, but franchises usually give certain players the option of where to be sent too. This usually happens when a player has been so good and loyal to a franchise. The organization sits down with them and allows them to choose a few spots that they would like to play, it also gives them some type of power to veto a specific trade to a destination they don’t want to go to. However, a player isn’t able to simply deny getting traded so that he can stay on the same team. Most of the time the general manager would simply ship them off anyways. However, some players who re-sign with their current team on a one-year deal could sometimes have a no-trade clause for that singular season. It just doesn’t happen all too often in the league. So, even if a player wants to stay on the team they are on, they can’t do anything to get out of the trade, unless of course they fail the physical. Although, even if a player fails his physical, I don’t believe the organization will allow him to play for them nor would they stop shopping him in the trade market. All it would do is delay the inevitable.

Below is a short video compiling some NBA players reacting to being traded.