We are going to see the deadline soon and generally it can't hurt to have a thread with all the trade rules. If anyone knows any other rule, let me know so I can add to my list. The ones below I know were correct at some point in the last few years but if anything might have changed, you can give me a heads up.
A team cannot just take and trade an unrestricted free agent to the team of their choice. The free agent has to want to go that team, has to agree to the trade and fully work out contract terms with that team. So before any trade to a team could be worked out, the free agent would have to negotiate and agree on a deal with the destination team. In essence this is the equivalent of a no trade clause. The free agent is just that, and can choose to go or not go to a team.
If a team signs a free agent or a rookie, that player cannot be traded till the 15th of December. So we can’t sign a free agent from another team and immediately trade the player.
In trades, if the teams exchanging players are over the cap, then current year salaries exchanged must be within 15pct plus 100k dollars of each other. So if a team trades a player who makes $1m per year, we can take a player, or players, whose total salaries in the current year equal $1.25m. That breaks down as $1m plus 15pct of $1m (150K) plus 100k. Rights to players or draft picks who are unsigned do not add any monetary consideration to the totals.
If one or both of the trading teams are under the cap, they may receive a player up to the amount of their cap room without giving up equal salaries. If a team is at or over the cap, they must adhere to the above rules
If you acquire a player in a trade, you may trade that player straight up for another player immediately. If you wish to package that player with another and make a trade, you must wait 60 days.
In a sign and trade deal, the deal must be for at least 3 years, and the first year MUST be guaranteed, the next 2 or more years do not have to be guaranteed.
If a player is part of a sign and trade, and that player receives more than a 20pct increase in salary, that player is considered a base year player. When a player is considered a base year player, the team can only take back salaries equal to 1/2 of the current year salary of the base year traded, or 120pct of the previous year salary (whichever is higher)* if that player is traded to a team at or over the cap. If the player is traded to a team under the cap, base year does not apply. People usually say BYC Player which stands for base year compensation.
The reason for this rule is to prevent teams with a players bird rights (the ability to pay a player any amount up to the max) from offering a player an inflated deal with only 1 year guaranteed in order to get a higher priced player from a team that may be trying to dump salary.
So for instance, if we wanted to do a sign and trade with a player whose salary jumped from 4mm to 8mm dollars, we would only be credited for 4.8mm in salary for that player in the trade. We would then add the 15pct plus 100k to the 4.8mm, meaning we would be able to take back a player making $5.62mm. This would make it impossible to do a 1 player for 1 player deal. We would have to make the deal bigger or bring in more teams in order to make the deal work.
Making up the base year trade penalty is why you see trades get very big when there is a player included who is receiving a big raise.
There are 3 exceptions available to teams that are over the cap. (If a team is under the cap, they may not use these exceptions.)
The mid-level exception. This allows teams to sign a player to a 6-year deal with a starting salary that is the average salary of the entire league. If the player is your own player, you can offer up to 12.5pct increases. If the player is from another team, you can offer 10pct increases. Increases are based on the first year of the contract. So a 5mm dollar contract with a 10pct increase, increases 500k per year. A 12.5pct increase would be 625k per year.
The 1.6mm dollar exception. This can be a 2-year contract only and a team can not use this 2 years in a row. If you use it one year, you do not have it available the next.
The minimum salary exception. A team can sign as many minimum salary players as they have roster slots for.
8th and most important
99pct of deals that you read about were never proposed, and 99pct of the deals that are proposed never happen.