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How the Wizards and Kings broke the Trade Machine in Ramon Sessions-Andre Miller trade

According to ESPN's Trade Machine, the Wizards shouldn't have been able to trade Andre Miller for Ramon Sessions, so how did it happen?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

During Thursday's coverage of the NBA trade deadline, there was a confusing moment on SportsCenter, when Tom Penn ran the Ramon Sessions-Andre Miller trade through ESPN's Trade Machine:


But it's been 24 hours, and despite the ESPN Trade Machine's insistence, the trade appears is going through, even though the Machine is correct: Miller can't be traded for Sessions straight-up. So how did the Wizards and Kings make this deal work?

Well, it's similar to last year's Warriors-Lakers trade, where the Warriors were able to package MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore in a trade to get Steve Blake, even though Brooks had been involved in a trade just a month before. Mark Deeks broke down how the Warriors were able to maneuver around the NBA rules to get the deal done in that situation:

On the surface, this is prohibited by the inclusion of Brooks. A fairly well-known rule states that players acquired by trade cannot be traded again for two months after their initial acquisition unless traded on their own, which Brooks seemingly isn't here. Having been acquired in the aforementioned Crawford trade on January 15, it appears Brooks cannot be traded again alongside Bazemore in this way.

This rule, however, is often misunderstood. Specifically, it actually states that players cannot be traded within two months of acquisition if their salary is being aggregated with that of another. It is a common misconception that players privy to this rule cannot be dealt in multi-player trades. In actuality they can, as long as the trade is structured as separate, parallel trades in which the relevant player's salary is not aggregated. Because of the Warriors's use of a TPE to absorb Blake, Brooks's salary is not being used in this way, and thus he is able to be sent out in the trade despite the presence of Bazemore.

The same thing is at work here. As weird as it sounds, even though this was a one-for-one player deal, it was actually two separate trades, according to CSN Washington and Truth About It. They were able to pull it off because both teams had trade exceptions that allowed them to move players without receiving a player in return. So here's how the two parallel trades actually worked:

Thanks to this trade maneuvering, the Wizards get two additional benefits. One, the Wizards have a $4.7 million trade exception they can use to acquire someone in a trade this offseason, like they did to acquire Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair last summer. Two, they've got a little extra cap space right away, since they were able to get Sessions, who makes less than half of what Miller makes this season, without matching Miller's salary. The extra cap space won't do much, since the Wizards likely won't sign anyone for more than the veteran's minimum for the final roster spot, but now you know.