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Can NBA teams sign free agents after trade deadline?

Blake Griffin and LeMarcus Aldridge signed for the Brooklyn Nets via the buyout market.
Blake Griffin and LeMarcus Aldridge signed for the Brooklyn Nets via the buyout market.
ANALYST
Modified 04 Apr 2021
Feature

The NBA trade deadline for the 2020-21 season was on 25th March. What that effectively means is that NBA teams can no longer acquire players via trades with other teams.

The trade deadline saw a number of high-profile moves, with Victor Oladipo joining the Miami Heat, while Rajon Rondo and Lou Williams also exchanged teams.

However, that does not mean NBA franchises are done trying to improve their rosters. Teams can still sign midseason free agents who get into buyout agreements with their parent teams.

The player in question might get into such an agreement for a variety of reasons ranging from a breakdown of relationship with his team or because a trade could not be agreed with another team(s) before the trade deadline.

In this article, we'll explain the process by which NBA teams can sign midseason free agents via the buyout market.

Former Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond has joined the LA Lakers via the buyout market.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond has joined the LA Lakers via the buyout market.

Can teams sign free agents after the NBA trade deadline?

In a nutshell, yes, NBA teams are allowed to sign midseason free agents after the trade deadline is over.

Every year, multiple players mutually agree with their teams to part ways. These players are then waived, with their original teams agreeing to let them engage with other teams as 'unrestricted free agents'. In exchange, players agree to waive off the team’s liability with respect to their salary/contract.

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Their contracts are then taken up by another NBA team that have the necessary salary cap space to afford them.

Over the last few days, the likes of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge moved to the Brooklyn Nets via the buyout market. Blake Griffin reached a buyout agreement with the Detroit Pistons a few weeks before the trade deadline, while LaMarcus Aldridge reached his agreement just a few days later.

A similar situation arose with Cleveland Cavaliers and Andre Drummond. Drummond proceeded to join the LA Lakers as an unrestricted free agent.

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Every year, multiple teams enter the buyout market to snap away unrestricted free agents, with most of these moves involving playoff contenders, or as in the cases above, bonafide title contenders.

In conclusion, NBA franchises can sign free agents after the trade deadline via the buyout market.

Published 04 Apr 2021, 23:02 IST
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