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The 2021-22 All No-Trade Team
Amazingly there isn't a single player in the NBA who holds a full no-trade clause ... but as always there is still a handful of players that, for fine-print reasons, can veto trades this season only
Baseball was the first sport that sparked my fervent fandom in the 1970s, so I learned the term no-trade clause at a ridiculously early age. The concept came to life during that decade: MLBers with 10 years of service time and five with the same team were granted the ability to block trades.
In the NBA, no-trade clauses have always been rarer. They can be negotiated into new contracts by players who possess eight seasons of service time and four with the same team, but only into new contracts. Because star players often sign contract extensions before their eighth season — with the best of the best often able to sign extensions to those extensions — openings to add a no-trade clause to contract structures are scarce.
The most prominent recent example is Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who signed a five-year, $228 million contract extension in December 2020 that did not allow for the addition of a no-trade clause because Antetokounmpo didn’t go all the way into free agency. The new deal was an extension before the completion of Antetokounmpo’s previous four-year, $100 million rookie extension with the Bucks. Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who signed a four-year, $215 million extension in August and has never reached the open market since becoming a Warrior, is another.
Throw in the increased player movement we’ve seen over the past few seasons, with stars such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard switching teams in free agency and then extending contracts that could not by league law contain a no-trade clause, and here’s where we are: Not a single player in the NBA this season has a negotiated, full no-trade clause in his contract. Not one.
When I last assembled an All-No-Trade Team for ESPN during the 2016-17 season, three players (Carmelo Anthony, James and Dirk Nowitzki) held full NTCs. In 2015-16, there were six leaguewide.
Yet there is still a handful of players every season who, for one season only, hold veto power over trades because they signed a one-year contract in the offseason with the same team they played for in the previous season. These players are known leaguewide as One-Year Birds. They can still be dealt before the Feb. 10 trade deadline but must give their consent to be included in any deal, because they would forfeit Bird Rights for the 2022 offseason upon switching teams.
With trade season starting in earnest this week, when many of the free agents signed during the 2021 offseason become eligible to be moved Wednesday, I am bringing back the All No-Trade Team like I used to assemble in my ESPN days. With trusty assistance from the tireless @KeithSmithNBA, here are 21 players who, for the rest of this season, can keep themselves out of trades if they choose:
🏀 LaMarcus Aldridge (Brooklyn)
🏀 Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
🏀 Nicolas Batum (LA Clippers)
🏀 Bruce Brown (Brooklyn)
🏀 Hamidou Diallo (Detroit)
🏀 Dewayne Dedmon (Miami)
🏀 JaMychal Green (Denver)
🏀 Blake Griffin (Brooklyn)
🏀 Udonis Haslem (Miami)
🏀 Solomon Hill (Atlanta)
🏀 Frank Jackson (Detroit)
🏀 Cory Joseph (Detroit)
🏀 Frank Kaminsky (Phoenix)
🏀 Rodney McGruder (Detroit)
🏀 Mike Muscala (Oklahoma City)
🏀 Abdel Nader (Phoenix)
🏀 Raul Neto (Washington)
🏀 Victor Oladipo (Miami)
🏀 Bobby Portis (Milwaukee)
🏀 Austin Rivers (Denver)
🏀 Lou Williams (Atlanta)
Also: There are seven other players currently on NBA rosters who can’t be traded until next offseason because they are ineligible to be dealt before the Feb. 10 trade deadline. Six of them are recent recipients of contract extensions whose trade restrictions won’t be lifted until after Feb. 10: Atlanta’s Clint Capela, Denver’s Aaron Gordon, Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Washington’s Daniel Gafford and the Clippers’ Terance Mann. The other is DeMarcus Cousins, who signed a free-agent deal with Milwaukee on Nov. 30 and will not have been a Buck long enough to be included in a trade this season.
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