3) Players can be traded from the minute a team's season ends, up until the start of the moratorium (so for lottery teams, that's mid April until the end of June.) This is how draft night trades are allowed to happen. However, players can only be traded if they're not going to be free agents that summer, or if they have no options that would allow them to become so. If they have an option, player or team, then that option must be exercised concurrent with the trade, and thus the player will not be a free agent. Teams can bypass this by making the final year an unguaranteed season, rather than an option year. This is how Erick Dampier was traded. It is also how Ryan Gomes was traded before free agency started.
All but two of those [unguaranteed contracts] are for the minimum salary. Dampier is the significant one that isn't, and it is a mere matter of time until Charlotte waives him. (They seem to be waiting to hear about a brilliant deal that Dampier's contract with facilitate, unaware or unwilling to accept that Dallas would have taken such a deal if it existed.)
- The magical, mystical, my-God-this-is-such-a-unique-contract-and-a-history-making-trade-chip Erick Dampier unguaranteed contract DUST chip thing - I hate unnecessarily abbreviations almost as much as I like hearing myself talk - was used last month in an underwhelming trade that brought Tyson Chandler to Dallas, while sending the non-expiring contracts of Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera the other way. Bizarrely, Charlotte preferred this Chandler deal to a prospective one that would have sent him to Toronto, even though this trade saw them taking on significant salary for players they won't (or shouldn't) play. John Hollinger summed up the deal thusly:
I'd like to congratulate Michael Jordan on being the first executive in history to avoid saving money in a salary dump. Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca have one year left at a combined $14.1 million, while Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll are owed a combined $17.1 million over the next three years. Throw in cash (presumably the maximum allowable $3 million) from Dallas, and they managed to break even while giving away their starting center for two guys who will occupy seats 11 and 12 at the end of the bench. Strike up the band.
Erick Dampier — Even when he was overpaid and apathetic, Dampier was a productive NBA player. Last year for Miami, however, Dampier seemed to have aged quickly. The one time defensive anchor was no longer anchoring anything, and that doesn’t leave much in the tank.
Note: Non-US teams that the player
has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in
that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not
the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where
no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League
split in Japan.