Can A Player Transaction Take Place? – A Visual Examination

Most NBA fans who are interested in understanding the intricacies of the NBA salary cap are – rightly – directed to Larry Coon’s excellent FAQ on the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  It is an unbelievable source of information and should be the first stop when armchair General Mangers want to understand the rules regarding trades and free agent signings.

However, it recently occurred to me that many people learn better through a visual presentation of data rather than purely through lists of text.  I searched the web to see if anyone had tried to take the information about player transactions and put it into pictorial form – and I couldn’t find any attempts.  So, utilizing some pioneer spirit, I’ve taken it upon myself to try to do just that.  What follows is my first attempt, one that will probably be updated and/or improved at some point:

The chart can be downloaded in Word format for Word 2007

It can also be downloaded in Word format for earlier versions of Word (1997-2003)

Finally, it can be viewed as a PDF document


I will continue to work to make more options available for viewing

The chart is designed to help you answer this question – Can my team add this player (or these players) to the roster? Essentially, the chart attempts to walk you through the process of determining whether or not a specific player transaction is legal under the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The end result should be either a green-colored box telling you that the transaction is permitted or a red-colored box that lets you know that the transaction is not permitted.  In order to maneuver through the chart, though, you need to know certain things:

If the player transaction is a free agent signing, you will need to know:

  1. How much money is being offered to the free agent.
  2. The amount of the salary cap (for the 2010-11 season, this amount is $58,044,000).
  3. What the minimum salary amount is for that player.  Consult the chart of minimum salaries on Larry Coon’s FAQ for this information.
  4. What the team salary figure will be after the signing is made.  This can be determined by looking at the current team salary amount in the Team Salary spreadsheet and adding the amount of the free agent signing.
  5. Which exceptions are available to a team if it is over the cap.  Available exceptions can also be determined by looking at the current Team Salary spreadsheet.

If the player transaction is through a trade, you will need to know:

  1. The amount of the salary cap (for the 2010-11 season, this amount is $58,044,000)
  2. Whether or not a team over the cap holds trade exception credits from a previous trade.  Available trade exceptions can be found listed in the current Team Salary spreadsheet.
  3. The player salary amounts for all players involved in the trade.  All players leaving your team (if any) are described as ‘outgoing salary’ in the chart.  Players being received by your team are considered as ‘incoming salary’ in the chart.  This information can be found in the current Player Salary spreadsheet, noting the following:
  • Use the amount in the “Cap Hit” column for their incoming or outgoing amount unless otherwise directed
  • Some players are considered Base Year Compensation players and their salary amount appears in a magenta background.  Please check the “Notes” column for their outgoing salary amount.
  • Players in the 4th year of their Rookie Scale contract who have signed extensions might be subject to Poison Pill Player status.  Check the “Notes” column for these players to see if their incoming salary amount needs to be adjusted.
  • Some players have a trade bonus (trade kicker) that will increase their outgoing salary amount.  Please check the “Notes” column to see if any trade bonus amount needs to be accounted for.
  • Remember that any trade has to be evaluated separately by each team involved in the trade.  In other words, each team must have a successful run through the chart in order for the trade to be declared legal under CBA rules.

A final note on trades: For trades in which multiple players are added to your team, the chart will direct you to first evaluate whether the players can be added as individual transactions before their salaries are added together into one transaction.  The yellow-colored boxes serve to provide information on trades of this sort.

Please provide me with comments, criticisms and evaluations of this chart. As I said earlier, this is my first attempt at something like this and, with everything else on this site, it is open for improvement.  I appreciate any constructive suggestions you might have, either as comments or by sending me an e-mail or twitter (see right hand column for contact information).

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