Why are more teams involved in an NBA trade?

Last summer, Damian Lillard expressed his determination to leave the Portland Trail Blazers and this player’s desired destination was the coastal city of Miami. However, clearly, Portland cannot easily lose their star like that, they need a commensurate price. The message sent from Portland is very clear: They do not want Tyler Herro and if the Miami Heat want to push this pitcher away, they must find a third party to participate in the deal.

After all, we all know Damian Lillard is not coming to the east coast but instead to the Milwuakee Bucks, where he will join “Demigod” Giannis Antetokounmpo to create the most fearsome duo in the NBA.

Tyler Herro continues to stay with the Miami Heat and is having the best season of his career so far: 26.2 points per game and a three-point shooting rate of up to 43.2%. Damian Lillard came to the Bucks in a deal between three parties including: Trail Blazers, Bucks and Suns. The Trail Blazers see an opportunity to bring back pick 1 of the 2018 NBA Draft, Deandre Ayton. In the opposite direction, Phoenix Suns also targeted Jusuf Nurkic and Grayson Allen. From here, a million-dollar deal between three parties took place: Damian Lillard went to the Bucks, Deandre Ayton landed in Portland and the Phoenix Suns acquired the services of Nurkic and Grayson Allen.

Another three-way trade just broke out as James Harden left Philadelphia. However, James Harden’s story is different from Damian Lillard’s, as all three teams including the 76ers, Thunder and Clippers all aim for future goals. All three had exchanges about picks instead of taking players right away for the time being.

In recent years, exchange deals between many teams have gradually become a trend in the entire NBA. According to Yahoo Sports, in just four seasons from 2019 to 2023, each year there was an average of 8 transfers between three or more teams. This number is almost double the previous low: From 2009 to 2019, there were only an average of 4.5 such transfers each year. 

Regarding this issue, an NBA director said that every team wants to have an advantage in the transfer sessions: “Everyone wants to achieve success in this battle. Sometimes doing deals like this helps more teams get there sooner.” 

Many members from the NBA organizing committee believe that this trend was born because teams are becoming more “skilled” and more creative in transfer work.

“It seems like the NBA has a lot more good strategic thinking now than it did 15 years ago,” said an executive from the West . Everyone is finding the best solution for their team.”

Today, information networks are also a factor promoting the development of these deals. Team leaders have plenty of space to chat with each other, and scouts often contact each other before the match. From here, the problems that teams encounter in transfer work can also be resolved more easily, especially when there are more than two people sitting at the negotiating table.

However, deals like this can make traditional transfer teams difficult. They always wonder why they have to give their opponents more time to change a deal that both sides have agreed to. They fear that this will cause the effort they invested in the deal to go down the drain after a long period of negotiations.

However, at present, things are different. All teams have 24 to 48 hours to change the terms of the deal. In cases where a third party is involved, the delay in the agreement can be extended up to 72 hours.

An example of the timing issue is the deal between Portland and the Knicks in February 2023. According to internal sources, there were arguments between the two teams when the 76ers and Charlotte appeared. This “crowding” caused the deal to stall and all four teams were upset.

There are a number of rules that complicate these types of deals: The third or fourth team involved in the transaction will not enjoy the full benefits of a traditional transfer. For multi-team transfers, each team must have transaction activity with at least 2 of the total participating teams. In addition, they also have 3 methods to transfer: Players, picks or 1.1 million USD. Sources said that regulation is also the reason why the Clippers had to send OKC $1.1 million to meet the tournament’s requirements.

The NBA has also placed restrictions on players transferring. For example, clubs are not allowed to transfer players 50 years of age or older – even though it sounds pointless and impossible. In general, to be exchanged, players will have to be on the NBA’s athlete list for the last 9 years. For three-way exchanges, players will need to have been on the roster for at least five years or be named to the All-EuroLeague First or Second roster.

Next season will be more difficult for teams to bring in All-stars, new financial regulations will partly prevent teams in terms of salary and taxes. That’s also the reason why the Bucks, Clippers and Celtics quickly brought in stars this year. The wave of exchanges between three or four teams will certainly grow stronger in the future as this will be a way to help teams balance financial issues.

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