There has not been a trade in the NBA since Russell Westbrook was moved in July, which represents an unprecedented slow period for the league.
According to our research, this is actually the longest the NBA has been without a trade since 1968 – excluding seasons shortened by lockouts. In fact, for the first time ever in a non-lockout season, this is the first time there have been no trades in August, September, October or November.
We asked several front-office employees why they believe there has been such little movement this year.
“With so many new players on new teams, many teams are still trying to figure out their needs,” one NBA executive explained. “Look at how many stars changed teams. I think that is the main reason for the drought.”
Six players who earned All-NBA honors switched teams during the 2019-20 offseason. That more than doubled the previous record set in 1998 and also matched the total of the previous four offseasons combined. It also does not include top stars like Anthony Davis and Jimmy Butler, who did not make All-NBA team last season.
As we wrote last month, only 43.6 percent of players in the NBA returned to the same team this season that they were on for opening night last year. That was the lowest mark of any year during the 21st century.
While the massive shakeup across the Association obviously played a big role in the current trade drought, another NBA executive offered a different reason, pointing to “the fact that two-way contracts, in some scenarios, allow teams another avenue to supplement roster needs.”
For example, the Golden State Warriors have been decimated by injuries this season. So to replenish their roster, they have received 421 minutes from Ky Bowman and 241 minutes from Damion Lee. These two teammates lead all players on two-way contracts in playing time so far this season.
There are 35 players who are currently signed to two-way deals for an NBA team in 2019-20. While these contracts do not provide the major shakeup that a trade would provide, it does give immediate relief for rosters without teams having to worry about mortgaging their future.
HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy contributed reporting and Alberto de Roa contributed research to this article.