Courtesy of the latest dramas involving the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, talk of no-trade clauses in the NBA is a daily staple of the news cycle as the league's Feb. 23 trade deadline draws near.
The reality, though, is that only three players in the league possess an outright no-trade clause in their current contract ... half as many as last season.
Those are the headliners on ESPN.com's annual All-No-Trade Team, which we assemble every January to acquaint you with any player who possesses the rare (and usually temporary) power to block a deal if he wishes.
There are 19 players on the 2016-17 squad, in addition to the Big Three, once you account for the various folks who -- through fine-print measures in the league's labor pact -- have the privilege of saying they can't be traded this season without their consent.
Stress this season.
The aforementioned 19 players break down into three distinct categories:
1. What makes Melo, Bron and Dirk so special?
Regular readers surely know this lecture by heart by now. NBA players are only eligible for an outright no-trade clause in their contracts after spending eight seasons in the league -- at least four with the same team -- and only when the clause is specifically negotiated into a new deal as opposed to an extension to a previous contract that did not contain a no-trade clause.
Those three future Hall of Famers are the only players on the NBA map at present with the ability to check all of those boxes.
2. League rules dictate that any player who signs an offer sheet with a new team in restricted free agency, only to see that offer sheet matched by the incumbent team, can't be traded without his consent for one full year after the offer sheet was matched.
Johnson and Crabbe, in addition, can't be traded to the Brooklyn Nets until after that date even if they did consent, since they are precluded from being dealt to the team that tendered the offer sheet -- Brooklyn in both cases here -- for a full calendar year.
3. The final category is made up of 14 players on one-year contracts who are commonly referred to as One-Year Birds.
Such players, in other words, possess one-year deals and can't be traded without their consent because they've signed with the same team two seasons (or more) in a row and would have to forfeit their free-agent Bird rights if traded elsewhere before the end of the current season.
The league thus mandates that One-Year Birds, before they can be thrown into a deal, have to grant permission, which affords them a soon-to-vanish measure of clout on the Anthony/James/Nowitzki level that expires on Feb. 23 as soon as the deadline passes.
Atlanta: Kris Humphries
Cleveland: James Jones
Dallas: Deron Williams
Detroit: Beno Udrih
LA Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute
LA Lakers: Metta World Peace
Miami: Udonis Haslem
Milwaukee: Steve Novak
New York: Sasha Vujacic
San Antonio: Manu Ginobili
Washington: Marcus Thornton
Editor's note: We're all still learning things about the freshly negotiated and ratified labor agreement that will take hold July 1. But here's a morsel of good news for those of you (like us) who don't like change: It's status quo in the new CBA when it comes to no-trade clauses. Eight years of service time -- with at least four of those seasons coming with the team issuing the contract -- will remain the requirements.
* Orlando, according to league sources, remains focused on acquiring a proven scorer on the wing before the Feb. 23 trade deadline if the ever-elusive right deal presents itself. The corresponding expectation in league circles is that the Magic will try to move a big man to make that happen, with Nikola Vucevic continuing to rank as the most likely of Orlando's bigs to depart because Serge Ibaka is headed for free agency in July (which complicates trading him) and with Bismack Biyombo only in the first year of a four-year, $68 million deal bound to put some teams off. Vucevic, by contrast, is a proven scorer and rebounder whose comparatively modest $11.8 million salary will presumably offset some of the defensive concerns in circulation. But sources say Boston's talks with Orlando to date on the Vucevic front haven't progressed past the exploratory stage ...
* The simpler option for the reigning champions, as opposed to a Melo-sized blockbuster deal, might prove to be a smaller swap in which the Cavaliers absorb the salary of a veteran point guard into their $4.4 million Anderson Varejao trade exception that expires Feb. 20. Sources say one vet known to interest the Cavs -- one who possesses a salary that would fit into that exception -- is Utah's Shelvin Mack at $2.4 million. Mack, according to sources, is most definitely available. The Cavs, though, would be forced to use the $4.8 million trade exception they just created in the Kyle Korver deal (with an expiration date of Jan. 7, 2018) to absorb the salary of Denver's Jameer Nelson, who is said to be another Cleveland target but makes $4.5 million this season ...
* The long (and confusing) Mo Williams saga ended at last this week when the 76ers, after claiming Williams off waivers and immediately releasing him, resisted the urge to do it again. When Philly passed and Williams finally cleared waivers Thursday, it meant Denver will wind up saving $1.2 million in salary after all the twists and turns detailed in our story here. But the Nuggets had to acquire Williams twice -- once by trade and again by reclaiming him off waivers earlier this week -- to realize those savings. Denver also received $650,000 in cash from Atlanta when it first traded for Williams, who never intended to play this season but will have drawn paychecks from four teams (Cleveland, Atlanta, Denver and Philadelphia) by month's end.
Our dreams have been dashed.
We tried. We composed a video essay for NBA Countdown earlier this week to lobby on Joel Embiid's behalf. Yet we ultimately failed.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 26, 2017
Eastern Conference coaches, as I realistically feared from the start, couldn't bring themselves to put a rookie on the All-Star squad ahead of Paul Millsap -- or, let's not forget, fellow snub Melo -- when Embiid has missed 14 of Philadelphia's 45 games this season while averaging just 25.4 minutes per outing this season.
It would have been so much fun to see Embiid in the Big Boy Game in New Orleans on Feb. 19. It would have been historic, too. Thanks to our man Micah Adams from ESPN Stats & Info, we discovered that only four players have ever previously earned an All-Star nod averaging fewer than 25 minutes per game.
1. Yao Ming appeared in only five games in his final NBA season in 2010-11 and averaged just 18.2 minutes in that handful of appearances. Houston came into the season only planning to play him 24 minutes per game (and no back-to-backs) even if everything went right, but Yao was voted in as a starter anyway even as his body was forcing him to leave the game, all thanks to his immense popularity back home in China.
2. Alonzo Mourning was selected by the fans as an Eastern Conference starter in 2001 despite missing the entire season to that point due to the kidney condition that would ultimately force him to retire briefly in 2003-04.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, averaging 22.9 minutes per game as a 41-year-old in his swan song season, was selected as a West injury replacement for Magic Johnson for the 1989 All-Star Game.
4. Nearly 30 years ago, in what ranks as one of the more surprising All-Star selections we can remember, Portland Trail Blazers big man Steve Johnson was chosen as a Western Conference reserve. He had to miss the game due to an ankle problem that ultimately limited him to 43 games and 24.4 minutes per game for the season, with Johnson later telling The Oregonian newspaper in a 2009 interview that he "really made the All-Star Game from [his play] from the year before."