In the National Basketball Association (NBA), a trade is a transaction that involves the movement of players from one basketball club to another. While players are the primary trade assets, draft picks and/or cash considerations can also be included, or be the basis for the trade to take place. The trade could involve either the swapping of players along with draft picks and/or cash considerations, or only draft picks (protected or otherwise).
Trades can only be made within specific time windows of a calendar year. The NBA’s trade deadline falls on the 16th Thursday of the season (this date is normally in the month of February) at 3 PM, Eastern Time. In the rare event that a regular season calendar is shortened by a lockout, the deadline is suitably postponed - in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 NBA regular season, the trade deadline was on the 15th of March, 2012.
For a trade to be made, the size of the exchanged contracts have to be within 15 percent of each other plus 100k. A player can immediately be traded on to another team, but if the new team wishes to package the player with another, they have to wait 60 days to formulate and execute such a trade.
The NBA allows teams to sign-and-trade a player, i.e, trade the player after signing him to a contract within the stipulated rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). There is no limit to how many players may be traded in exchange for one - it is only limited by the size of the team’s roster (teams are allowed to have 15 players on their active roster on full contracts and 1 player on a two-way contract between the NBA and the G-League). Chris Paul, for example, was the subject of an 8-players-for-one deal, while in 2007, Kevin Garnett was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics in exchange for 7 players.