Every NBA player who becomes eligible to be traded on Dec. 15 ahead of NBA trade deadline

We are two weeks from Dec. 15, which marks the unofficial countdown to the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline. The majority of free agents signed this past offseason become eligible to be traded, and although teams are still evaluating their rosters, internal dialogue has begun. Teams are discussing what works and what potential changes (some minor) they need.

There hasn’t been a trade in the NBA since Oct. 6, but at the moment, the big focus is in Philadelphia, where the future of disgruntled guard Ben Simmons could lead to a domino effect across the league if the former No. 1 overall pick is indeed traded.

To get a better sense of the 2021-22 trade market, we have broken down the entire player pool into three categories below: expiring contracts, long-term deals and players still carrying trade restrictions.

We’ve organized these tables by player role (franchise centerpiece, All-Star, starter, reserve, etc.), salary and years remaining on their contracts. You can use these tables when attempting to determine which trades are possible across the league — especially because 29 out of the 30 teams don’t have salary-cap space (only Oklahoma City has room) and will need to trade salaries that match within 125%, 175% or $5 million.

Teams such as the Celtics ($17.2, $9.8 and $5 million), Magic ($17.2 million), Pelicans ($17.1 million), Nets ($11.5 and $6.3 million), Thunder ($11.3 million and $9.6 million), Mavericks ($10.9 million), Clippers ($8.3 million) and Jazz ($8.5 million) have large trade exceptions and can can acquire a player without sending back salary because of a previously created trade exception.

Expiring contracts

Because each of these 88 players is in the last year of his contract (or holds an option that could make him a free agent this summer), there is a risk that the acquiring team could lose the player in free agency.

However, there has been a seismic shift on teams taking more of a chance on “rental players” in the past three seasons.

Jordan ClarksonMarcus Morris Sr., Derrick Rose and Norman Powell were in the last year of their respective contracts and traded to playoff teams.

The four players had an immediate impact on their new teams and were re-signed after entering free agency.

Beyond the on-court benefits they got, the Jazz, Clippers, Knicks and Trail Blazers took advantage of the signing rights they acquired in the trades — full Bird for Clarkson and Powell, non-Bird for Morris and early Bird for Rose — to exceed the cap and retain a player they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to add in free agency.

That same thinking also applies to the Cavaliers acquiring Jarrett Allen. Cleveland was not projected to have cap space in 2021 to sign Allen but acquired his Bird rights and exceeded the cap to sign him to a five-year, $100 million contract. Allen was recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and the Cavaliers are in the thick of the play-in race in the East.

Multiyear contracts

The list of 194 players who have two or more years left on their contract is top-heavy with franchise cornerstones, All-Stars, top starters and starters.

Out of the 50 players who earn more than $15 million, only Kevin LoveDanilo GallinariEric Bledsoe and Eric Gordon are categorized as key reserves or rotation players.

Trade restrictions

No player in the NBA has a no-trade clause in his contract. However, that doesn’t mean everyone is free to be traded. Of the 444 players currently on rosters, 159 have some type of lingering restriction. Here is that list, with an explainer below:

  • Signing: The majority of players who signed a contract in the offseason have a Dec. 15 trade restriction. The Jan. 15 restriction is for free agents who signed a contract with their previous team (with either Bird or early Bird rights) with a pay increase of at least 20% over the previous season. For free agents like the Celtics’ Jabari Parker, who signed after Sept. 15, the restriction is three months after they signed their contract. ·
  • One-year Bird rights: This restriction applies if a free agent signs a one-year contract and will have Bird rights with his current team when he becomes a free agent. A player can still be traded but must consent to the deal. If he does, the Bird rights do not transfer to his new team.
  • Extension: Depending on the type of extension, a player becomes trade-ineligible for six months or one year. However, because of the condensed offseason, the restriction for extensions are now shortened.
  • Poison pill: For players still on their rookie deals before an extension kicks in, the NBA counts their fourth-year salary as outgoing money and the average of the extension amount and last year of their rookie contract as incoming money. One example: Robert Williams III would count as $3.7 million in outgoing salary for the Celtics but $10.3 million for an acquiring team.

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