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A no-trade clause is an amendment to a contract, usually relevant in American professional sports, wherein a player may not be traded to another club. Sometimes this clause is implemented by the club itself, but the vast majority are requested by the athlete and his or her sports agent. In many cases, these no-trade clauses are limited, where a club may be limited to trading the athlete only at certain times, or only to a certain team or geographical area.
No-trade clauses are found in most sports in the United States, including Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and some minor leagues around the country. Many European leagues, mostly professional soccer and basketball, also implement these contract amendments.
Each league usually has its own rules regarding these clauses; for example in the NBA, no-trade clauses can only be negotiated into contracts when a player has at least four years of service for the team he's signing the contract with and at least eight years total in the NBA. Other leagues have other varying rules, for example in MLB the "Ten and Five" rule gives most every player limited control on his tradability once he meets the ten and five criteria, which means the player has played in the league ten seasons and with the current team for at least five. In the NHL, these rights have been blamed for the lack of trades that have been pulled off in recent years, with critics citing examples where "done deals" were blown up by "selfish players."
Often the no-trade clause is waived by the players themselves, usually in order to play for a contending team. In one dramatic case in 2001, Tampa Bay Devil Rays first baseman Fred McGriff mulled over waiving his rights for nearly a month before ultimately accepting a deal which sent him to the Chicago Cubs. In 2007, Kobe Bryant was willing to waive his own rights with the Los Angeles Lakers in order to be dealt to either the Phoenix Suns or the Chicago Bulls, but in this case Bryant's own pickiness as far as where he would like to play limited the Lakers' ability to move him and eventually no trade was made at all. Darryl Sittler's no-trade clause protected him from being moved, when owner Harold Ballard and manger Punch Imlach wanted to get rid of or reduce Sittler's influence on the team; a few years later Sittler waived the clause when relations between him and Ballard deteriorated. Dany Heatley demanded a trade from the Senators at the end of the 2008–09 season, and a deal was in place to send Heatley to the Edmonton Oilers on June 30 but Heatley refused to waive his no-trade clause (the Oilers had missed the playoffs for 3 straight seasons), so he was traded to the San Jose Sharks instead.
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