Once a year, basketball aficionados await what’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting days of every league campaign. No, it’s not the opening night of the season we’re talking about. Nor are we referring to the Christmas Day games or the start of the playoffs.
What we’re talking about is the NBA trade deadline.
Eagerly checking HoopsHype and Twitter on that exciting day has become an annual tradition for those who follow the NBA closely, and once the transactions start rolling, workplace productivity grinds to a halt.
Due to somewhat recent tweaks made to the 2017 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the trade deadline is actually earlier now than it’s previously ever been.
Now, the NBA trade deadline is exactly 10 days before the All-Star Game, meaning it will always fall on a Thursday. What’s more, the exact cutoff time for trades is at 3 pm EST. Sometimes, deals appear to come through after that hour, but that’s only because trades can be agreed upon right before the deadline without being officially announced. The announcements may then come after 3 pm EST, but rest assured, the trade came before the deadline.
In exact terms, because we know the dates and locations of the next three All-Star Games, we also know the dates of the next three trade deadlines. They fall as follows:
- 2018-19 NBA Trade Deadline: Feb. 7, 2019
- 2019-20 NBA Trade Deadline: Feb. 6, 2020
- 2020-21 NBA Trade Deadline: Feb. 4, 2021
After that, the exact dates of future trade deadline are currently unknown, but it can be accurately surmised that they’ll fall in early February.
Originally, according to the most recent CBA, the trade deadline was supposed to be on the 17th Thursday of every season, which came after the All-Star break.
However, a press release in the summer of 2017 announced the change to the earlier date:
“In addition, the Board of Governors approved moving the trade deadline from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game. With the new placement of the trade deadline, teams will be able to settle their rosters before the All-Star break and avoid the disruptions that result from players joining new teams just as practices and games are beginning to resume following the All-Star break.”
Officially, the reason for moving the trade deadline so far before the All-Star Game was so that players who got dealt could use the break to settle into their new cities, and so teams could have their rosters already settled heading into the second part of every league year.
However, another important factor for the change was the now-infamous 2017 DeMarcus Cousins trade, which saw the talented-but-enigmatic big man get dealt from the Sacramento Kings, the team who drafted him, to the New Orleans Pelicans. A trade of that magnitude was newsworthy enough, but couple it with the fact that it occurred during the 2017 All-Star Game, in which Cousins was participating (he ended up playing fewer than three minutes that night), and the league had to step in to avoid such brutal awkwardness from ever happening again.
Now, we have our early February trade deadline for the foreseeable future.