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Bradley Beal and a Brief History of the NBA’s Full No-trade Clause

Only 10 players in NBA history have received a full no-trade clause in their contracts. Here’s the story of the NTC, from David Robinson to new Suns star Bradley Beal.

The Phoenix Suns agreed to acquire three-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards on Sunday in a deal dictated by Beal’s rare full no-trade clause.

As part of Beal’s new five-year, $251 million contract prior to the 2022-23 season, he also received something only nine other players in NBA history got: Full and complete control over determining his next team if Washington ever decided to trade him. To be eligible for a no-trade clause by NBA rule, a player has to complete eight years of service time and at least four seasons with the team he re-signs with.

Of the 10 total players with this ultimate power, only two others besides Beal have actually waived it to approve a trade elsewhere.

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NBA Players to Receive A No-Trade Clause

David Robinson: The Admiral got one when the San Antonio Spurs took him first overall in 1987. He not only negotiated a no-trade clause but also worked his contract to ensure he’d be paid the average between the highest and second-highest salaries in the league when he finished his naval service in 1989. The Admiral spent all 14 of his Hall of Fame seasons with the Spurs, winning a title and MVP, and earning 10 All-Star appearances.

John Stockton: The NBA’s all-time assist leader had to play 12 seasons with the Utah Jazz before getting his NTC upon signing a three-year, $15 million deal prior to the 1996-97 season. Of course, the legendary point guard never had to use this clause in a 19-year career with the Jazz in which he made two Finals appearances.

Kobe Bryant: Kobe received his clause when he signed a seven-year, $136.4 million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers prior to the 2004-05 season. While former Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Kobe requested a trade prior to the 1999-00 season and there was a proposal on the table to send him to the Detroit Pistons for Grant Hill, the more famous request came in 2007 when Bryant publicly asked out. He was nearly dealt to Detroit again, this time for a package that reportedly included Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, but Kobe invoked his no-trade clause to veto the deal. Of course, Kobe spent his entire career in purple and gold, winning five championships, an MVP, and garnering 18 All-Star nods.

Dirk Nowitzki: Dirk’s four-year, $80 million contract extension with the Dallas Mavericks prior to the 2010-11 season got him a no-trade clause and some peace of mind. It clearly paid off, as Dallas won the championship in that first season after he signed his deal. Dirk spent his entire 21-year career with the Mavs, winning an MVP and appearing in 14 All-Star games.

Tim Duncan: He thought about leaving the Spurs earlier in his career, but in 2012 took a pay cut to ensure he’d stay in San Antonio, signing a three-year, $30.1 million extension. He spent all 19 seasons of his all-time great career in Texas, winning five titles, two MVP awards, and making 15 All-Star games.

Kevin Garnett: KG was the first and second player to actually waive his full no-trade. He obtained his NTC upon signing a three-year, $36 million extension with the Boston Celtics prior to the 2012-13 season. One season later, he agreed to be traded along with Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal for five players and four first-round picks that ended up becoming Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and a pick sent to Cleveland in 2017 for Kyrie Irving. In 2015, KG waived his clause again to be traded to his original Minnesota Timberwolves, retiring with the team a year later.

Dwyane Wade: Wade wanted some assurances prior to the 2014-15 season after LeBron James returned to Cleveland. So his two-year, $31.1 million deal to stay with the Miami Heat got him a no-trade clause. After two years with his hometown Chicago Bulls and a year playing with LeBron in Cleveland, the two-time NBA champ returned to the Heat for the final two years of his epic career.

Carmelo Anthony: Melo brokered his powerful no-trade clause when he inked a five-year, $124 million contract extension with the New York Knicks in 2014. By the time 2017 hit, both player and team knew this marriage had come to an end. He waived his clause prior to the 2017-18 season in a trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Freedom, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick that became starting center Mitchell Robinson.

LeBron James: LBJ didn’t get a no-trade clause until 2016 when he signed a three-year, $99.8 million extension to remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers. While he’s now on the third team in his GOAT-level career, King James interestingly enough currently doesn’t have an NTC with the Lakers. He does have a 15% trade kicker, meaning any team acquiring him for next season would have to pay the 38-year-old more than $53 million next season. LeBron isn’t going anywhere unless he says so.

Six years after Anthony waived his NTC, Beal flexed his muscles and orchestrated the deal to Phoenix. There’s a decent chance we may never see another no-trade clause in the NBA ever again. Certain players on Bird-Rights contracts who would lose those rights upon a trade — and the chance to be re-signed for more money under league rules — have no-move clauses for one year in those rare scenarios. But the rare, full no-trade autonomy may soon become fully extinct.

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