Celtics

Understanding trade rules and restrictions: What Celtics can and can’t do this season

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One of the most complicated parts of the NBA for fans is the ins and outs of team building during the offseason. There are complex rules about what a team can and can’t do with certain players, how much a team can offer a free agent, what happens when a team goes into the luxury tax and much more.

I write a lot about the particulars of these rules, but one of the common requests I’ve received at BSJ is to simplify an explanation of these tricky CBA rules and terms and how they apply to the Celtics. Over the upcoming month, we will take a weekly look at some of the common phrases and rules I used that are involved in the collective bargaining agreement and try to make them easier to understand so it’s easier to break down the options the Celtics or another team has with their players in any offseason. Today, we start to cover trade rules. 

There are two types of trades in the NBA world. One is the simple kind (simultaneous). The other (non-simultaneous) usually involve trade exceptions, which we will get to in another post. For now, we will stick to a basic trade

What is a simultaneous trade?

It’s a deal that takes place in one swoop. It’s dependent only on the salary of the players involved in the deal and whether the teams involved are over the tax or not.

What are the salary restrictions in a simultaneous trade?

There are three different categories for non-tax teams, with tighter restrictions for each amount of money included in the deal.

Small salary trade: Team A sends out 0 to $6.533 million in salary. Team A can receive 175 percent of what they take out, plus $100,000.

Example: The Celtics could trade Daniel Theis and his $5-million salary and take back 175 percent of his salary ($8.75 million) plus $100,000 so the most they could take back is $8.85 million for him. That could be the salary of just one player or multiple players.

Mid-size salary trade: Team A sends out $6.533 million to $19.6 million in salary. Team A can receive the outgoing salary amount plus $5 million in return.

Example: The Celtics could trade Marcus Smart ($12.55 million) in salary and receive up to $17.55 million in return for him with one player or multiple players.

Big salary trade: Team A sends out player(s) making $19.6 million or more in salary. Team A can receive 125 percent of the outgoing salary plus $100,000.

Example: The Celtics could trade Gordon Hayward ($32.7 million) and receive up to $40.975 million in return for him in multiple salaries from players, based on the 125 percent number plus $100,000.

Is it tougher for tax teams to make a trade?

Yes, the rules for them or more restrictive when it comes to total amounts. Tax teams have to abide by the Big salary trade rules (only can take back 125 percent of outgoing salary in trade plus $100,000) in all deals.

This limited trade possibilities for the Celtics last year when they were a tax team, but since they will not be in the tax for this year, it should give them more flexibility to operate.

Do the Celtics have any trade restrictions involving their current players?