Basketball NBA 3-Team Trade

A 3-team trade in basketball is when three different teams work together towards a deal to trade players, draft picks, or cash. 3-team trades can involve any combination of the three teams trading with each other. This type of trade is common since it gives a team more leverage when a third party is involved in the deal.

Salary Caps

Some trades may not be possible because of salary cap limitations. A 3-team trade is a way to get around salary caps. It is common in the NBA for 3-team trades to happen as a result of two teams negotiating. A third team usually asks to join the trade. That can be beneficial for all parties as there are more assets to choose from and many more trade combinations.

Example of a 3-Team Trade

3-team trades can get complicated and many combinations and parameters are involved in real-world trades. Below is a simplified example of a 3-team trade.


Team A wants a Center from Team B and nothing from Team C.

Team B wants a Draft Pick from Team C and nothing from Team A.

Team C wants a Point Guard from Team A and nothing from Team B.


Team A gets the Center from Team B.

Team B gets the Draft Pick from Team C.

Team C gets the Point Guard from Team A.

Real NBA 3-Team Trade

A recent example of a 3-team trade in the NBA was a deal involving the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Washington Wizards. Cleveland was rebuilding and looking to trade veterans for young players or draft picks, while the Bucks were looking to get experienced players to help in their soon to come playoff run. Washington was looking to make their salary sheet smaller. The three teams participating in a 3-team trade to get what they wanted.