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Lamar Odom was recently acquired by the Los Angeles Clippers in a four-team trade including the Clippers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and Utah Jazz. I also see multi-team trades in the NFL.

Why would a team choose to become involved in a multi-team trade? On the surface, the details of a trade involving more than two teams become confusing.

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    they also happen in baseball as well, though not as often and for very similar reasons. – wax eagle Jul 13 '12 at 17:39
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The main reason for a team to involve itself in a trade is to acquire a benefit in one of these areas:

  • Cap relief - getting rid of one or more contracts or acquiring shorter/expiring contracts
  • Draft picks - a team facilitating a trade can obtain one or more draft picks
  • Talent - a team may have one or more players that it wishes to obtain or it may need to redistribute talent/clear up playing time.

A recent example is the three team trade involving Golden State, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. The original trade involved only two teams, with Golden State trading Dorrell Wright to Philadelphia for an overseas player to obtain cap relief - essentially a salary dump. New Orleans wanted to obtain salary relief, and so joined the trade by sending Jarret Jack to Golden State and getting the overseas player in return. Each team got something from this transaction:

  • Philadelphia obtained a good small forward, improving front court depth
  • Golden State obtained a good backup point guard, improving back court depth
  • New Orleans got cap relief and cleared the way for their first round pick, Austin Rivers, to play more

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