One of the surest signs of how the NBA has changed over recent decades has been the date Dec. 15. Long simply a date on the calendar in the NBA schedule, Dec. 15 has become the date fans recognize as the unofficial opening of trade season.
On Dec. 15 each year, players signed in free agency become trade eligible, which typically accounts for a majority of the league. There are exceptions — and more on that to come — but this date more or less represents when teams can get serious about trade discussions, even if deals are rarely completed in December.
For the Lakers, who becomes available to be traded on Dec. 15, who has restrictions that stretch further in the season and who can’t be traded at all? Let’s take a look at each of those categories.
Eligible to be traded Dec. 15
The Lakers have only had a few players even eligible to be traded at all before Dec. 15, that being their rookies in Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis, sophomore Max Christie and LeBron James. Everyone else is under a trade restriction of some sort.
For most players on the roster, that is lifted on Dec. 15. Specifically, Gabe Vincent, D’Angelo Russell, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes, Cam Reddish all can now be traded. All but Russell is a player who joined the team in free agency this summer.
Russell’s deal is an interesting one. Because he signed a two-year deal with a player option in the second season, he would have had a no-trade clause. However, he waived that no-trade clause — likely for a bit more money from the Lakers — and re-signed with the team.
Eligible to be traded Jan. 15
Two Lakers will not be eligible to be traded for another month in Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura because each of them re-signed this summer on a deal that was at least a 20% increase in their salary from last season.
The difference between them and D’Lo, who also re-signed this summer, is that Russell did not have that 20% increase in his salary and, in fact, signed for significantly less money per year.
The Lakers have a number of contracts that are in the $10 million to $17 million range, including Reaves and Rui. It means they could swap out players with more than they could move the Russell Westbrook contract last season, for example, but it does mean chasing a player on a big contract — like a Zach LaVine — is going to have to wait until mid-January if it happens at all.
Not eligible to be traded this season
Two more Lakers are not eligible to be traded at all this season, both of whom signed long-term extensions heading into the season. Anthony Davis can not be traded for one year because he signed a maximum extension in early August. That also is going to mean he won’t be in trade talks at the start of next off-season, but there is no question on him being traded anyway.
The other player who has a restriction due to signing an extension is Jarred Vanderbilt. His four-year extension signed on Sep. 15 brought with it a six-month restriction on being traded. That would make him eligible to be traded on March 15, which is well after the trade deadline.
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